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South Carolina in the 40s and 60s


State capitol at Columbia
State capitol at Columbia

In 1945 South Carolina was still governed by the constitution of 1895. Control of the government was in the hands of the legislature, and the legislature was controlled by representatives of small rural counties. From the 1930s to the 1970s the most powerful legislators were from Barnwell County. State Senator Edgar Brown and House Speaker Sol Blatt were referred to as “the Barnwell Ring..

The system of racial segregation and rural political control began to break down after World War II. In 1946 the federal courts declared the white primary illegal. In 1948 the national Democratic Party in its platform came out in favor of civil rights for blacks. In reaction, Governor Strom Thurmond broke with the party that year and ran for president as the candidate of a short-lived splinter group, the States’ Rights Democratic Party, known as Dixiecrats. He eventually rejoined the Democrats, and in 1964 became a Republican.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 decided, in Brown v. Board of Education, that segregated schools were unconstitutional. In reaction, the state government passed laws to prevent racial integration in the public schools. In January 1960 black citizens in Greenville led the first protest march in the state against segregation. Blacks and whites also protested segregation in many cities with sit-ins, in which they occupied the seats in a segregated restaurant and refused to leave when they were denied service. After violence broke out in other Southern states, white leaders in South Carolina began to moderate their resistance to federal law. Clemson University admitted its first black student in 1963. The federal courts ordered total desegregation in the public schools beginning in 1970. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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