Columbia, SC — Thank you to Carolyn Click for her well-written Jan. 20 article, “Cities commemorate fall of segregation,” regarding the early events leading to the end of segregation in Columbia. I applaud the heroic men and women chronicled in the article for their courage, persistence and forward-looking perspective.
There are, however, many others who played a significant, though less well-known, part in changing the culture in Columbia. Some of them are Warren Giese, Thomas Martin, David Ellisor, Richard Hohn, all from the University of South Carolina’s Department of Physical Education, and Van McCloud√, Fate√ Goodwin, Collie√ Rayford, Sam Goodwin, Gwen Ward and many others from Richland 1.
In the summer of 1970, shortly after school integration began in Columbia, they united to help develop the NCAA National Youth Sports Program on USC’s campus.
The five-week program served more than 500 boys and girls primarily from the Richland District 1. They were bused to USC’s campus and participated in a sport-skill instruction, including swimming under the leadership of Thomas Martin and Jimmy Ratliff. In addition, there was health education and a fantastic hot lunch. Sportsmanship, teamwork, cooperation, interpersonal relationships and good citizenship were taught.
There were obvious benefits for the youngsters, but beyond that there was, I believe, improved cooperation and communication among the school district, the city, the university and the USC athletics department. All of this occurred at a critical time in Columbia’s evolution past segregation, as pointed out in Ms. Click’s article. I believe that the sports program and the many individuals involved in it played a significant part in allowing Columbia to avoid a “flash point” event.
Richard C. Hohn