SC facilities, programs receive national recognition for significance to civil rights

Christina L. Myers
·2 min read

The National Park Service has added four South Carolina resources to the African American Civil Rights Network.

They are Columbia’s Waverly Historic District and Harden Street Substation, St. George Rosenwald School in Dorchester County and the South Carolina Equalization Schools website. Their inclusion in the Civil Rights Network federally solidifies their significance to the civil rights movement.

The African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 — established within the National Park Service — was created by Congress to recognize and commemorate the contributions of the civil rights movement, acknowledge the sacrifices of those who fought for racial equality, desegregation and discrimination as well as federally recognize their historical relevance to the national movement.

Resources that can be considered for this designation include properties or physical locations of events significant to an individual or group related to the movement, facilities such as libraries, archives and museums dedicated to documenting the history of the movement and programs — performances, websites or art installations — that share the history of African Americans during civil rights.

In a statement from the office of U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat states in part, “I am pleased to see the National Park Service add these four important resources to their African American Civil Rights Network. Studying and understanding the nation’s history is a vital step towards a more perfect union.”

“I encourage others to take advantage of all that this network has to offer. We ought not just focus on Black history one month a year. Every month should be an opportunity to learn about the experiences of past leaders whose shoulders we all stand upon.”

According to the network’s website, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis by the national park service and must meet specific requirements to qualify such as establishing an individual, group or organization’s association to the movement.

The Waverly Historic District is Columbia’s first suburb, established within the city limits in 1913 and included a community of prominent African American professionals and civil rights residents such as Modjeska Monteith Simkins and Judge Matthew J. Perry.

The Harden Street Substation — Columbia Fire Department’s facility built in 1953 — employed the city’s first African American firefighters who served neighboring Black communities. The department was later integrated in 1969.

The former St. George Rosenwald School — also referred to as the St. George Colored School — was built in the 1920s. By 1954, its facility was an epicenter for civic and community engagement.

The South Carolina Equalization Schools website provides an archive of segregated African American public schools, highlighting 700 state-funded “equalization schools,” constructed between 1951 and 1959 for African Americans — the state’s response to maintaining segregation within the public school system.