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Black History

South Carolina's African-American history stretches back to the 1600's when enslaved Africans first arrived in the Carolina Colony. They played a major role in the cultivation of rice and cotton in the state, working long hours in harsh conditions. About one-third of the nation’s slaves came through Charleston, SC. See S.C. Black History Chronology - Part 1 of 4: The Arrival through the End of Slavery

Not much detail is recorded about the history of African American in Clarendon county prior to the Civil War. About the only records available are census data that record the number blacks that were enslaved during the first 150 years of the state's existence.
For example:

South Carolina Census Figures
 Census 1790 1820 1840 1860
Free White 140,178 237,390 259,084 291,300
Slaves 107,094 258,475 327,038 402,406
Free Colored 1,801 6,826 8,276 9,914
* See S.C. African American History and S.C. Census

According to U.S. Census data, the 1860 Clarendon County population included 4,378 whites, 8,566 slaves, and 151 free colored people. See RootsWeb.

On the other hand, the 20th century records a number of major historical events that occurred in which the courageous actions of the black community in Clarendon county had a significant impact on the equitable treatment of fellow African Americans and people of all races across South Carolina and the United States. 

Briggs vs. Elliott 

The NAACP first attempted unsuccessfully, with a single plaintiff, to take legal action in 1947 against the inferior conditions African American students in Clarendon county experienced under South Carolina’s racially segregated school system. By 1951, community activist Rev. J.A. DeLaine, convinced African American parents to join the NAACP efforts to file a class action suit in U.S. District Court. This class action case, Briggs vs. Elliott (Board of Education), was named for Harry Briggs, Sr. 


Nineteen members of this congregation were plaintiffs in the case of Harry Briggs, Jr., vs. R. W. Elliott, heard in U.S. District Court, Charleston, in 1952.  The court found that the schools designated for African Americans were grossly inadequate in terms of buildings, transportation and teachers' salaries when compared to the schools provided for whites. The court order to equalize the facilities was virtually ignored by white school officials after it was issued.

In Briggs vs. Elliott, the court refused to abolish racial segregation in S.C. schools. However, the ruling set the stage for Briggs to be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it was combined with four other desegregation cases, including Brown v. Board.This ultimately led to the U.S. Supreme Court´s 1954 landmark decision, desegregating public schools - Brown vs. Board of Education.

In 1965, integration of a few token black students into formerly all-white Clarendon county schools began.  In 1970, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit mandated complete desegregation, many white students left the public schools to enroll in private, all-white academies such as Clarendon Hall.

Liberty Hill Colored School - See U.S. Slaves Blogspot

Rev. J. A. DeLaine, was the principal of Scotts Branch school, also known as the Liberty Hill colored school. He played a key role in  encouraging parents to sign the petition demanding improvements in the schools and services provided for African American students.  Rev. DeLaine and his family suffered dearly. Both his home and his church were burned to the ground. He was harassed with death threats and eventually left town. He finally relocated to upstate New York where he founded the DeLaine-Waring African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church. Rev DeLaine died in 1974. 

The Legacy of Summerton - Interesting article published in Newsweek Magazine in 1994, summarizing progress fifty years after Briggs vs. Elliott.

Other recommended African-American history sites include:
 * See Forgotten Fires documentary film.

** You might also want to check out the complete series of articles by Richard Reid on the History of Black Americans in South Carolina.

National Museum of African American History & Culture

If you would like to suggest new material or links to be added to this
web site, please email groenpj@cs.com

President Obama Speaking in Manning, S.C.