A pivotal era in the fight for Black Americans to gain equal rights and protections under the law, the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s changed the course of the country’s history. Experience some of the movement’s most important moments right here in South Carolina.
In Rock Hill, see the historical plaque and lunch counter exhibit commemorating the former location of McCrory’s Five & Dime, where Black students from Friendship Junior College were denied service but refused to leave. They were arrested and rejected bail, and their defiance started the “Jail. No Bail.” movement across the South.
Visit the home of the “Father of the Civil Rights Movement” at the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historic Preservation Site in Greenwood. A preacher, teacher, author and activist, Mays served as president of Morehouse College and was a mentor for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. See where King composed his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech when you visit the campus of Penn Center on St. Helena Island, originally the 1862 Penn School, one of the country’s first schools for formerly enslaved Africans. On Columbia SC 63’s Main Street Tour, you’ll explore numerous sites and stories of important moments and marches that took place along Columbia’s main thoroughfare and the South Carolina State House grounds.
Churches played an important role in community gatherings and mobilization. Dating to 1816, Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first independent Black denomination in the United States and hosted important community leaders throughout its tumultuous history. The Historic Liberty Hill AME Church in Summerton held meetings that led to court cases ultimately resulting in the desegregation of schools. These are just a few of the many places throughout South Carolina that bear witness to the struggle, perseverance and victories in the fight for freedom.