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University History

Appendix 3: Biographies of Proposed Names

Harry Walker

Reason for Naming 

  • Harry Walker is the University of South Carolina’s first Black elected student body president (1971-1972).

 

Harry Walker (1950-Present)

By Melissa DeVelvis

Harry Walker was born in 1950 in Greenville, South Carolina. His father was an automobile mechanic, and his mother worked for an industrial firm. He attended the University of South Carolina from 1969 to 1972 and was a political science major. In fall 1970, senior Luther Battiste encouraged Walker, a junior and president of the African American student association on campus, to run for student body president. The school had  desegregated in 1963, and the student body had only 341 Black members. Walker's campaign slogan was “Let’s all get together,” and he deliberately limited discussions on race. Instead, Walker ran as an “underdogs versus establishment” platform, where the students were the underdogs and the administration the establishment. He also appealed to the interests of international students and women’s issues. Walker won the election by a landslide, becoming the first presidential candidate to win under the plurality system and not require a runoff. Walker earned 2,067 votes to the other candidates’ combined 1745. The next closest candidate received 807 votes. Ebony magazine called it the “greatest margin of victory in the school’s existence.” Walker is now a retired business executive.

 

 

“Black Elected Student President at South Carolina U.” The New York Times. March 28, 1971.

“Big Man on Campus.” Ebony Magazine. August 1971: 106-112.

Calabrese, Jerry. “Harry Walker: Black President Chosen.” The Gamecock. March 26, 1971.

Donnelly, Hana. “50 Years Later, Harry Walker reflects back on his term as USC’s first Black student body president.” The Daily Gamecock. March 25, 2021.


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