Civil Rights in Columbia

January 20, 2013

Quiz: Civil rights in Columbia

How much do you know about civil rights events, people and sites in Columbia? Take this quiz and find out.

How much do you know about civil rights events, people and sites in Columbia? Take this quiz and find out.


1. On June 22, 1954, 17 months before Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King ignited the Montgomery bus boycott, this woman refused to give up her front seat on a segregated city bus operated by SCE&G bus in downtown Columbia. She sued and won at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — although her contribution to the desegregation effort was largely overshadowed by the more widely-publicized Alabama boycott.

2. This man was considered “Mr. NAACP” for his tirelessness in developing the civil rights organization in every corner of the state during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1947, he gave a speech at Allen University urging the audience to find an educator willing to challenge the lack of school buses for black students. That challenge led to the famous Briggs v. Elliott school desegregation case, part of the 1954 Supreme Court decision overturning separate but equal schools. He died in 1970, having witnessed the slow integration of the schools.

3. This famous South Carolina court case upheld the right of demonstrators to peacefully assemble and march at the S.C. State House. Among the 187 petitioners who were arrested for the 1961 march was James Clyburn, who went on to become the state’s first black representative since Reconstruction. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

4. She was born in 1899, at the height of anti-black feeling in South Carolina and other Southern states. But she went on to become a leading public health official charged with reducing cases of tuberculosis among African-Americans. Always a fierce advocate for civil rights, she was accused by whites of being a Communist.

5. After he placed his name on a 1946 lawsuit challenging the all-white Democratic primary, this man lost his home and his businesses, including the Waverly five-and-dime store on Gervais Street. His wife suffered a nervous breakdown and he died penniless. But his children say he never regretted his decision. The old storefront was razed last year, igniting a discussion about preservation of city landmarks.

6. He was described by one historian as “an iron fist in a velvet glove.” His voice was deep and melodious, suited, many thought, for the radio. But this man who died in 2011 had a larger vision and spent much of his life in South Carolina courtrooms, first arguing hundreds of civil rights cases and later, presiding as the South’s first black federal judge. He was lawyer to hundreds of protesting students who challenged desegregation of lunch counters, parks and other public accommodations. Among his most famous clients was Harvey Gantt, the first African-American to integrate Clemson University.

7. This historic church, founded in 1865, has been the starting point for hundreds of peaceful demonstrations, most recently launching the annual King March to the Dome on Martin Luther King Day. The church was also the site for the organization of the first meeting of the Colored Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association of South Carolina.

8. This imposing monument traces the state’s African-American history from the Middle Passage to modern times — erected of granite and bronze, the scenes from slavery, Civil War and modern times. It resides a stone’s throw from Gov. Benjamin Ryan “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, who spent his life attempting to undo the post-Civil War gains made by African-Americans.

9. In the wake of lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., students from these two historically black Columbia colleges teamed up in the early 1960s to launch sit-ins and protests in downtown Columbia. The effort was marked by arrests and some violence, as whites retaliated against the protests. It wasn’t until 1962 that stores finally dropped their opposition to segregated lunch counters.

10. He became the NAACP’s chief counsel in South Carolina in 1941 and would argue, along with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the Briggs v. Elliott case to desegregate Clarendon County schools. His indefatigable spirit and boldness carried him through the worst of segregation as he represented voters, school teachers and families of lynching victims.


1. Sarah Mae Flemming

2. James Hinton

3. Edwards v. South Carolina

4. Modjeska Simkins

5. George Elmore

6. U.S. District Judge Matthew Perry

7. Zion Baptist Church

8. African-American History Monument at the S.C. State House

9. Benedict College and Allen University

10. Harold Boulware

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