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South Carolina African Americans – SC Separate but Equal Schools – SC Equalization Schools

South Carolina SC African Americans SC Separate but Equal Schools

"Separate but Equal" Schools

South Carolina's "separate but equal" schools – also called "equalization" schools – were built by our state during the 1950s in an effort to forestall integration. The article below was contributed by Rebekah Dobrasko, who wrote her thesis on the subject and maintains a website which documents these important landmarks.
Sweet Home – Horry County

"Separate but Equal" Leads to South Carolina's First Sales Tax

South Carolina's first sales tax stemmed from the state's commitment to segregation in the public school system. In 1950, parents in Clarendon County banded together to file suit against the school district (Briggs v. Elliott), arguing that segregation in schools did not allow for "equal" treatment of black students. In response to this suit, South Carolina embarked on a massive school construction campaign aimed at building better schools for African-American students. To finance this construction, the state passed its first universal sales tax of 3%.
Miley Hill – Charleston County

Number of Black High Schools Nearly Doubles in Six Years

These "separate but equal" schools began popping up in late 1951. The earliest schools were located in Clarendon County, Spartanburg County, and Jasper County, but by 1953, new school construction was underway throughout the state. Prior to 1951, South Carolina only had 80 public high schools for black students. By 1957 – just six years later – the number of black high schools had increased to 145.
Johnsonville – Florence County

Despite Brown, Dual School Systems Based on Race Remain until 1970

Briggs v. Elliott became part of the US Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, yet South Carolina continued to build separate schools. Most of the schools were for black students, but some white schools received funds as well. The public school system in South Carolina was not desegregated until 1963, and dual school systems based on race were not eliminated until 1970.
Cross Anchor – Spartanburg County

Help Identify "Separate but Equal" Schools in Your Town

Many of these buildings still stand across the state today. Although some are still in use as schools, others have been abandoned or repurposed as offices, day care centers, or even housing. Interestingly, they are often easy to spot. Because they were built over a relatively short time span, most share similar 1950s modern architecture. (Click here to see photos of known schools in your community.)

The schools constructed under this "equalization" program were mostly for African-American students, but some white schools received funds as well. Rebekah began to study this program while in graduate school in public history at the University of South Carolina. She is continuing her research and would like to develop a comprehensive list of schools. Do you know of a school in your area that was constructed during the 1950s? Please let Rebekah know! Photographs, histories, memories, and more are helpful. For contact info and more information, including a list of known schools, visit http://scequalizationschools.org.

Special note: Rebekah is especially in need of photos of schools in the Upstate and in the counties along the Savannah River!  

Zion Elementary School – Marion County

Learn More about African-American Schools in South Carolina

Scott's Branch – Clarendon County


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