After Harvey Gantt’s peaceful integration at Clemson University earlier in the year, University of South Carolina President Thomas Jones Jr. wanted his school’s “I-Day” in fall 1963 to go without the violence and protests seen at other Southern colleges.
“We are all sensitive to the crisis which faces us and to the way in which we must face it,” Jones wrote in 1962. “I assure you that we at the university will do everything in our power to face the events of the future with suitable dignity.”
Three black students – Henrie Monteith of Columbia, Robert Anderson of Greenville and James Solomon of Sumter – walked into the Osborne Administration building on Sept. 11, 1963 to become the first African-Americans to register for classes in 76 years.
The trio met with Gantt and white students from Clemson and USC to go over how to handle the reaction on campus.
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Anderson dealt with insults and taunting while walking to class. Solomon said they could not get coffee together. They were asked to not attend football games. Someone tried blowing up the home of Monteith’s aunt.
But they paved the way for another 11 African-American students to enroll the next year.
Nearly 3,400 black students attend USC this year.
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.