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50th Anniversary of Desegregation

Registering for Class

Biographies of the Three

On Sept. 11, 1963, three courageous students, Robert G. Anderson, Henrie Monteith Treadwell and James L. Solomon Jr., took heroic steps on the University of South Carolina’s campus to enroll as students. Their legacies continue as they have contributed a lifetime of public service to their communities. Because of these students, the university now boasts a diverse campus made of numerous nationalities, races and ethnicities.

Robert G. Anderson

Portrait, Robert G. ANdersonRobert G. Anderson, a native of Greenville, began his college career at Clark College in Atlanta. In 1963, he became part of the desegregation struggle at the University of South Carolina as a transfer student. In an article written after Anderson's death in 2009, fellow student James Solomon remembered the harassment Anderson suffered on campus. “Guys would bang on his dorm door late at night,” Solomon said. “When he would go to the door, they would run and he’d never know who it was.” Anderson’s return to the university in 1988, as part of the 25th anniversary festivities helped with his healing process. “We were walking across campus that day and he said that he was glad he came back, that it had changed his perception of the university,” Solomon said.

Anderson’s life and career became a testament to public service, beginning with his bravery at USC, He later served a combat tour in Vietnam. After leaving military service, Anderson served as a social worker in New York City for many years. He earned a professional social work degree from Hunter College. He helped Cuban refugees, worked with mothers and children in the Bureau of Child Welfare and ran an alcohol counseling program. After retirement from social work Anderson worked in the Veterans Administration for 12 years.

Henrie Monteith Treadwell

Portrait, Henrie Monteith TreadwellHenrie Monteith Treadwell seized the opportunity to change the dark traditions of segregation at the University of South Carolina in the fall of 1963 as she became one of the first three black students to attend the university. With the help of her Aunt Modjeska Simpkins, a civil rights activist, and her lawyer, Matthew James Perry Jr., Treadwell was able to enroll at USC. In 1965, Treadwell again made headlines for being the first black student to graduate from the university since 1877.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from USC, she continued her education at Atlanta University, earning a master’s and doctorate in biochemistry.

Today, Treadwell is the director of Community Voices at Morehouse School of Medicine where she studies healthcare for underserved populations and researches the health concerns of teenage African-American males, including prison health, health policy and health services.

James L. Solomon Jr.

Portrait, James L. Solomon Jr.Prior to joining the desegregation movement at USC to continue his graduate studies in 1963, James L. Solomon Jr., a native of McDonough, Ga., set many outstanding precedents. He served in the U.S. Air Force for six years; attended Morris College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry; attended Atlanta University where he received a master’s degree in mathematics; and served as an administrator at Morris College for three years.

Solomon served in various state government positions including division director at the Commission on Higher Education and the commissioner of the Department of Social Services (DSS). When he was elected to Sumter District 17 School Board he became the first African-American elected to public office in Sumter County since Reconstruction. Within the Columbia community he has served on various boards and councils, including Brothers and Sisters, Columbia Urban League, Richland 1 School District (where he was the first African-American to serve as chairman), Richland County Council, South Carolina Commission on the Future, United Way of the Midlands and the American Public Welfare Association. Solomon’s public service and dedication to his community earned him the Order of the Palmetto — the highest award given to a resident of the state — awarded by both Governors Richard Riley and Carroll Campbell.

Solomon retired as the commissioner of DSS and is the chairman of the Palmetto Development Group board of directors. He currently lives in Columbia, with his wife, Helen. They have four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Lawyers

The Honorable Matthew James Perry Jr.

Portrait, Mattew PerryMatthew James Perry Jr. experienced segregation first-hand and played a pivotal role in combating it. Perry earned a degree in business administration from South Carolina State University in 1948. He then enrolled in its law school, which had been created after the University of South Carolina’s law school resisted pressure to admit blacks. After graduating, Perry moved to Spartanburg in 1951 and became the area’s only black attorney.

In 1961, Perry returned to Columbia, as chief counsel of the South Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Not only did Perry successfully litigate the integration of Clemson University and USC, but as his legal career progressed, he would eventually play a central role in almost every case that integrated South Carolina's public schools, hospitals, golf courses, restaurants, parks, playgrounds and beaches. He individually tried more than 6,000 cases. His work led to the release of nearly 7,000 people arrested for civil disobedience during the fight to end segregation.

In 1976, Perry became the second African-American lawyer, and the first from the South to be appointed as a federal judge when he was recommended for a position on the U.S. Military Court of Appeals. He became South Carolina's first African-American federal district judge when he was appointed to a position on the U.S. District Court in 1979.

In 2004, the federal courthouse in Columbia was named in his honor. Perry received many other awards, including the prestigious Order of the Palmetto, South Carolinian of the Year, Thurgood Marshall Award and William R. Ming Advocacy Award. He was a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and was honored for his legal and civic works.

Perry never retired, continuing to work as a senior judge until his death in 2011.

Donald James Sampson

Portrait, Donald James SampsonDonald James Sampson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1941. Prior to his decision to enroll in law school, Sampson served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Sampson returned to the U.S. and enrolled in Temple University’s School of Law. After graduation, he returned to South Carolina in 1951 and became the first African-American to practice law in Greenville County. Within a decade of his return to the South, Sampson would be actively fighting for the desegregation of the University of South Carolina.

Through his affiliation with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Sampson was designated as part of the lead counsel that represented Robert G. Anderson in his lawsuit for admission to USC. The movement to desegregate the university both inspired, and was inspired by, other civil rights campaigns throughout the South. Despite threats, protests and intimidation, the lawsuit proved successful as Anderson and fellow applicants Henrie Monteith Treadwell and James L. Solomon were peacefully admitted on Sept. 11, 1963.

On May 3, 2000, Sampson was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award given to a resident of the state, for his nearly 50 years of dedicated service in overturning racial inequality in South Carolina. Sampson died in 2001. In tribute to his legacy, his name is bestowed upon the Donald J. Sampson Scholarship Fund and the Donald James Sampson Bar Association, an affiliate of the National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest and largest association of black lawyers and judges.

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