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Charleston civil rights leader, mother of City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, dies

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 8:15 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2021 at 9:11 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The mother of Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie has died.

Marguerite Dudley Gregorie passed away on August 30. She was 100 years old. There is a viewing Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Palmetto Mortuary, 1122 Morrison Drive, Charleston.

Back in March, Charleston City Council honored Marguerite Dudley Gregorie, along with the late Maranda Holmes, and late former Charleston City Councilwoman Brenda Scott.

Councilman Gregorie says his mother, Holmes and other women like them were known as the ‘Porch Mothers’ when he was growing up on Court Street, now named Maranda Holmes Street.

“Porch Mother, because that’s where all the mothers of the community sat to watch over us as the children played in the neighborhood,” Gregorie said.

“As the Klan grew prominence, the Porch Mothers protected their children with clear instructions,” Gregorie said. “Sometimes you have to give up your right for others’ wrong, in order to survive.”

His mother and Holmes were also very influential in politics in the downtown Charleston African American community, according to Gregorie.

He says they participated and supported the bus boycott, hospital workers’ strike and the garbage workers’ strike.

They fought for equity and justice for their children and the greater community throughout their lives. They attended and helped in their own way, to organize marches and political rallies throughout the city of Charleston, including those events held at Mother Emanuel.

“Working as a domestic for 10 cents an hour, raising other people’s children as well as her own, she had to keep secret her involvement in the (civil rights) movement, particularly during the Jim Crow era for fear of retaliation from her employers,” Gregorie said.

“These phenomenal women produced two city council members, doctors, lawyers, teachers and others from the children of Court Street. Late Councilwoman Scott grew under their tutelage and her role in Charleston’s political landscape was historical.”

Marguerite Dudley Gregorie was born March 23,1921 in Charleston during another pandemic. She was a 1939 graduate of Burke High School, and a lifetime and one of Mother Emanuel AME Church’s oldest members. Her family history dates back to Mother Emanuel’s establishment. For the past eight years, she has resided in East Cleveland, OH.

You may view her obituary here.

Back in March, Charleston City Council honored Marguerite Dudley Gregorie, along with the late...
Back in March, Charleston City Council honored Marguerite Dudley Gregorie, along with the late Maranda Holmes, and late former Charleston City Councilwoman Brenda Scott.(Dudley Gregorie Family)

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