SUMMERTON, SC (WCSC) - On Sunday morning a small South Carolina town celebrated its role in getting rid of segregation in schools.
Clarendon County is home to the lawsuit of Briggs V. Elliott, the first case in the Brown V. Board of Education trial in 1954. The trial eventually led to the segregation of schools being deemed unconstitutional, but Summerton community members say they don’t feel like their role is often recognized.
Until 1954, students in South Carolina were separated by race. The segregated school system favored white schools, providing them with higher quality education and bus services.
“Some walked nine ten miles to school while buses passed by splashing water on them. They had to cut fire wood for the school, and they sat on benches. They didn’t even have actual school desks,” Robert L. China, the Pastor of Liberty Hill A.M.E. Church says.
Due to inequality in the late 1940’s, a group of Summerton parents challenged the system to make the world fairer for their kids. A few years and several battles later, those parents won their case, making segregation in South Carolina schools unconstitutional.
“Someone said once, ‘I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired’,” China says. “Once it gets to that point you have to stand up and do something.”
During the Sunday morning service at Liberty Hill A.M.E. church, a brochure map was unveiled. People can easily find all the sights that led to the huge racial movement of the early 1950’s.
“We need to make sure our children understand things haven’t always been where they are and appreciate their opportunities,” China says.
The map is complete with 18 tour stops, all bearing a different piece of history at each place.
“Part of that is making sure our children understand that things haven’t always been as they are now,” China says. “Some would say we have only just begun, you cannot be satisfied with this, you have to continue.”
The maps can be found at the Historic Liberty Hill A.M.E. church in Summerton.