JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - A healthcare facility on Johns Island will pay tribute to a civil rights activist this week.
The Johns Island Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center will honor the late Hermina B. Traeye at its Fall Family Feast. It takes place Thursday at 5 p.m.
"An avid civil rights activist, community leader, advocate for the oppressed, champion for social justice and racial equality, caregiver to the needy and loving mother," is how her family describes Traeye.
Event organizers released the following statement about Traeye:
Born on March 13, 1929 in Adams Run, South Carolina, Hermina Burvick Traeye was the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Burvick and the youngest of four siblings, Samuel Jr., Martha and Mary.
Hermina was educated through Charleston County's public school system, completing her secondary education at C.A. Brown High School. She attended the Elite Beauty College of Orangeburg, South Carolina where she initially wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology.
Nevertheless, her passion for sick people unable to travel and afford the cost of doctor visits compelled her to advance her career as a medical professional. In her earlier years, Hermina learned the skills of delivering babies from neighborhood midwives.
She received her formal training as a Nurse Assistant from Baker Nursing School in Charleston and was on the path to achieve certification as a Licensed Practical Nurse from Roper Hospital School of Practical Nursing before being struck down in her prime.
Ms. Traeye never sought fame or desired the limelight for the civic contributions she made. She preferred keeping a low profile and working in the background, but her voice and work echoed loudly within the communities she served. Hermina understood the
value of good health care and devoted her life to making it increasingly accessible to those who were impoverished. Her dedication and commitment to the community played a significant role in the establishment of the Esau Jenkins Memorial Health Center in
Yonges Island, South Carolina. This facility brought desperately needed health care and human services to the local districts.
Hermina was an inspiring motivator. She labored side-by-side with champions of the civil rights movement during the 60's and early 70's. Septima Clark (her mentor), Esau Jenkins, Mary Moultrie, Bernice Robinson, Bill Saunders, Lonnie Hamilton, Rev. McKinley
Washington, Andrew Young, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson were her co-laborers during the height of the fight for racial equality. Until the time of her unexpected death in October of 1974, Hermina was always an active participant and a strong
voice for social justice. She played an integral role in encouraging African Americans to register to vote, and worked tirelessly to help poor and struggling families in the communities she served despite her overwhelming passion to care for the sick and elderly.
Ms. Traeye was involved in the 1199-B Hospital Workers' Strike, a movement that would help African American nurses and other workers to receive the proper pay, respect, and recognition they deserved. Hermina was one of 31 activists arrested for violating
a temporary injunction against large groups outside of the Medical College on April 11, 1969. She was determined to stay in jail without bail until their rights were established and strides to end poverty and injustice in Charleston hospitals were taken.
Hermina was actively involved in a variety of civic organizations that were established by the late Esau Jenkins. C.O. Federal Credit Union and the Rural Mission Health Planning Program - chartered as the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corporation
and many other businesses. Each organization respectively was dedicated to improving the economic, health, and social condition of minorities in the Charleston area.
Her diligent efforts were instrumental in non-violent protests to end segregation and discrimination against African Americans in companies like Woolworth, Kress, and other businesses in downtown Charleston. Those efforts extended to the Charleston County
School Districts providing school buses for African American children in different areas.
Hermina's life ended tragically on October 4, 1974, at the age of 45. She died approximately 40 yards from her driveway due to an automobile accident. Left to cherish her memories are her nine children; Gloriadean, Helen, Pamela, Wilma, Doreen, Vanessa,
Vincent, Germaine and Millicent; a host of grand children, great-grands and great-great grands; her mother Sarah; her two siblings Samuel and Martha; nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of family friends. Her legacy will continually live through the hearts of many who were impacted by her love, commitment, and dedication.