South Carolina – Modjeska Monteith Simkins

South Carolina SC African-American History Modjeska Monteith Simkins

Modjeska Monteith Simkins – Civil Rights Activist

Modjeska Monteith Simkins – born in Columbia on December 5, 1899 – is known as the "matriarch of civil rights activists" in South Carolina.

For over sixty years she fought to alleviate the pain and hardships of our state's sick and poor. In her life she served as a public school teacher, Director of Negro Work for the South Carolina Anti-Tuberculosis Association, and Secretary of the South Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Simkins also played a vital role in the South Carolina federal district court case against Clarendon County, helping write the lawsuit that requested equality for black schools. This case, together with others from around the South, led to the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that separate was in fact not equal, thus violating the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Simkins once said, "If the civil liberties of any person, whether a communist or klansman, are trampled on ... if I know a person has been mistreated, he's my friend." Upon her death in 1992, she was honored by the South Carolina General Assembly as a "great humanitarian" and "fearless outspoken champion of the oppressed."

Modjeska Monteith Simkins – Her Life and Home

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