Justice For All

Exploring the role of South Carolinians in the struggle for civil rights in the United States
Eight well-dressed Black women and one Black man sit on steps, looking serious.

1877 The Normal School at the University of South Carolina

1961 First Freedom Ride

1963 Demonstrators Greet Robert Kennedy at the Columbia Airport

Far-reaching Impact

After the Civil War, African Americans in South Carolina led the national fight for political representation and civil rights, creating a multiracial democracy in South Carolina during Reconstruction. Although violence and corruption denied African Americans their hard-fought rights during the Jim Crow era, Black South Carolinians created the groundwork for a future movement. After World War II, the national Civil Rights Movement emerged. Communities and individuals across South Carolina worked together to fight for equality and justice for all Americans. Activists pushed for change in education, government, the economy, and the social order. Their bravery laid the foundations for work that continues today.

A State of Influence Across Decades

The Civil Rights Movement is a part of a long history of the struggle for equality, freedom, and justice that began long before the protests and sit-ins of the mid-20th century. The struggle continues to this day.
Composite of photographs of the 64 "Radical Members of the So. Ca. Legislature."



A Constitutional Convention gives African American men the right to vote in South Carolina.

Woman stands by a seated man in army uniform and dark glasses.

Planning a Movement


The beating of Isaac Woodard by police in Batesburg drew national attention to the need for an organized movement.

A group of men and women stand outdoors around a ballot box.

Voting Rights


George Elmore sues the South Carolina Democratic Party over denying him the right to vote in the primary.



Summerton parents and students sue the Clarendon County school board over unequal schools for African American and White students.

Protests and Demonstrations


Freedom Rides testing interstate segregation travel through South Carolina.

Protests and Demonstrations


The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Edwards v. South Carolina overturns the convictions of 200 student protesters.

Backlash and Limits


South Carolina Highway Patrol officers shoot into a crowd of protesters at South Carolina State, killing three students and injuring many more.

Economic Rights


The Charleston Hospital Workers’ Strike draws national attention to Black women’s fight for economic rights.

Black Power


Students at Voorhees College take over campus buildings, demanding changes to the campus and curriculum.

Two men sit and one stands at a desk in the South Carolina General Assembly



(L-R): James Felder, I.S. Leevy Johnson, and Herbert Fielding become the first African Americans to be elected to the state legislature since the 19th century.

Resources & Exhibits

Explore the history of the South Carolina Civil Rights Movement and discover its connections to your local community and the national Civil Rights Movement using our free digital resources.

Classroom Resources

Alongside the Justice for All traveling exhibition, the Civil Rights Center has developed free educational resources that help students discover the connections between South Carolina and the national Civil Rights Movement. We offer several educational resources and hands-on opportunities for K-12 students that support College-Career-Readiness skills and align with state standards.

Traveling Exhibition

The Justice for All traveling exhibition highlights some of South Carolina’s largely overlooked chapters in the national Civil Rights Movement. It uses panels, digital components (such as oral histories and our digital collections), and reproduction archival materials to teach about the Movement. Justice for All is visiting sites throughout South Carolina through the end of 2023.

Justice for All at USC

In 2019, the Center for Civil Rights History and Research worked with South Carolina Humanities and the University of South Carolina Libraries to host an archival exhibition called Justice for All: South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement. The Center is working to install a permanent Justice for All exhibition in the historic Booker T. Washington High School Auditorium.

Comic Books

In popular culture, African American leaders and events were celebrated in comic books and graphic novels, which described the political struggles as they challenged negative portrayals of African Americans and created positive representations.