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Edwards march
Photo by Cecil Williams

Sharing Columbia’s Civil Rights legacy

By Peggy Binette, peggy@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-7704

A University of South Carolina historian, student and a group of alumni are raising awareness about Columbia’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Historian Bobby Donaldson, along with alumni Columbia Mayor Steven Benjamin, Robin Waites, Sam Johnson, Carrie Phillips, Kim Jamieson and doctoral student Ramon Jackson are guiding Columbia SC 63, a project to commemorate 50 years since the height of civil rights activism.

The project continues a year of public programs Sunday, March 3, with a trio of events that will highlight the driving force that student activism played. Students from Allen University and Benedict College organized local sit-ins, and students from around the state participated in a march to the S.C. State House on March 2, 1961, which led to arrests and later, the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Edwards v. South Carolina.

“Students from across South Carolina played a decisive role in the nation’s civil rights struggle. The Edwards case led to a landmark decision that affirmed freedom of speech and civil disobedience in movements around the county,” says Donaldson, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and principal of Preston Residential College.

The “We Shall Not Be Moved: A Commemoration of Student Activism in Columbia and the 50thAnniversary of Edwards v. South Carolina” events on March 3 will include a church service and an afternoon reunion, panel discussion and reception.

The church service will take place at 10:45 a.m. at Zion Baptist Church at 801 Washington St., the site from which students marched in 1961. The afternoon events will take place 3 – 5 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Panelists will include U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, Simon Bouie, Charles Barr, Bobby Doctor, DeeDee Wright, S.C. Rep. Leola Robinson-Simpson and James Edwards, for whom the case is named.

In addition to the panel, there will be a special viewing of footage of the Columbia sit-ins from 50 years ago that was discovered recently by historians and staff at USC’s Moving Image Research Center (MIRC).

With the aid of newspapers, photographs, archival documents and production notes, Donaldson, Jackson and Greg Wilsbacher were able to confirm that old film from the WIS-TV archives contained scenes of student demonstrations and arrests.

"Dr. Donaldson asked MIRC to locate any student demonstration footage we could find from WIS. So, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, looking carefully into those elements of the WIS Television News Collection that have not been fully catalogued,” says Wilsbacher, MIRC's curator for Newsfilm Collections. “With the help of Ramon Jackson we found the Edwards march and a number of other important Civil Rights news stories form the early 1960s."

It will be the first time that the Civil Rights student activists, many now in their 70s, will have seen the footage.

A reception will take place after the panel and film viewing. While the event is free, seating is limited. Tickets can be reserved online or by calling 803-252-7742 ext. 15.

For more about the Columbia SC 63 project, visit the website.

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 02/25/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 02/26/13 @ 10:15 AM | Permalink

If you're going

  • We Shall Not Be Moved: A Commemoration of Student Activism
  • When: Sunday, March 3
  • Service: 10:45 a.m., Zion Baptist Church, 801 Washington St.
  • Panel, reception, film viewing: 3 - 5 p.m., Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
  • Cost: Free but requires registration
  • Website: www.ColumbiaSC63.com 

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