Columbia on Thursday unveiled markers that remember two of the city’s historic civil rights cases.
Markers were dedicated at Hawthorne’s Pharmacy, formerly the Taylor Street Pharmacy (1520 Taylor St.) and at the former site of Eckerd’s Drug Store (1530 Main St.) across from the Columbia Museum of Art. Both were sites of historic sit-ins.
Columbia was the scene of many downtown sit-ins and protests over segregation in the early 1960s, and was the launch point for key legal cases that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Simon Bouie and Talmedge J. Neal, two college students active in the movement, slipped into a booth at the Eckerd’s drug store in downtown Columbia on March 14, 1960, violating the store’s longstanding policy that African-Americans could purchase goods from the store but could not sit and eat in the restaurant.
Their conviction on trespass, upheld by the state Supreme Court, was appealed to the nation’s high court, where it was argued in October 1963. A year later, the high court ruled in the Bouie case and several other sit-in cases, including the Columbia case of Charles Barr, Milton Greene and others who sat in at the Taylor Street Pharmacy, that such policies violated the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Columbia SC 63 “Why Our Story Matters” project was designed to reveal some of the hidden stories surrounding the civil rights movement.