Currently serving as the administrator of NASA, Bolden, a former NASA astronaut and US Marine Corps general, became the first African-American to head the agency in 2009. Born and raised in Columbia, Bolden has logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time and roughly 28 days in space.
A screenwriter, actor and playwright, Boseman was born in Anderson, attended Howard University and strengthened his acting skills at the British American Dramatic Academy at Oxford. In 2013, Boseman took on the challenging yet legendary role of playing baseball hero and phenom Jackie Robinson in the blockbuster hit 42.
Checker was born Ernest Evans in 1941 in Spring Gulley, South Carolina. He later moved to Philadelphia and, while attending South Philadelphia High School, made his first record, “The Class.” When he was a senior, Checker recorded the song “The Twist” at the request of his record company. Before graduation, the song—and Checker—were hits.
Drake, known as “Dave the potter,” resided in Edgefield, and evidence suggests he became an indoor slave after an unfortunate train accident took one of his legs. After learning pottery making, Drake created ceramic masterpieces depicting images of his life as an enslaved man. Today, many of his vases and pots are part of a Civil War collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Marian Wright Edelman
President and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, a vocal advocate for children’s rights and a Yale Law School graduate, Edelman was the first African-American to be admitted to the Mississippi Bar. In 2010, a Marlboro County library near her hometown of Bennettsville was named in Edelman’s honor for her dedication and passion for equal education for all.
Affectionately called “Smokin’ Joe,” Beaufort native Frazier was a decorated and accomplished boxer from 1965 to 1976. During this time, Frazier won an Olympic gold medal and was an undisputed world heavyweight champion.
Forever impacting jazz music with his immense talents and signature style, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie played his way into the hearts of millions. Born on October 21, 1917, in Cheraw, Gillespie was a celebrated composer, singer and bandleader, but was mostly known for his master trumpeter skills.
Season 12 winner of American Idol and St. Helena Island native, Glover belted her way to the crown in 2013. The R&B songstress is the fourth African-American to win the singing competition and her highly anticipated debut album, Music Speaks, was released at the end of 2013.
A native of North, singer and actress Eartha Mae Kitt rose to fame in the 1950s and ’60s. Some iconic “Miss Kitt” hits include “Santa Baby” and “C’est Si Bon.” On stage and in film, Kitt excelled, successfully starring in Helen of Troy, New Faces of 1952, Anna Lucasta and the TV series of Batman.
Dr. Ronald McNair
McNair was one of the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded shortly after takeoff from Kennedy Space Center on January 28, 1986. McNair graduated from Carver High School in Lake City, South Carolina, and went on to earn his Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A nuclear physicist, McNair was selected for NASA’s astronaut program in 1978, becoming the second African-American to fly in space.
Pageland native Miller has sung, danced and acted her way into a successful career at the young age of 29. Miller has already starred in a number of roles, including Hair, the Broadway production of Sister Act, a recurring role on All My Children and most recently, the American Repertory Theatre’s production of Pippin. Miller received the coveted Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her work in Pippin.
Henri Monteith Treadwell
On September 11, 1963, Treadwell, a determined and unwavering civil rights trailblazer, enrolled at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and became the first African-American woman to be accepted. On the same day, Robert G. Anderson and James L. Solomon, two African-American men, joined Treadwell and also enrolled at the university.
A highly acclaimed and renowned photographer, Williams experienced Columbia’s civil rights story firsthand from behind the lens of his camera. Williams captured thousands of defining moments and regularly holds exhibitions showcasing his work throughout South Carolina.