A group of men, women, and children stand inside a church facing the camera.

Clarendon County Petitioners

Parents, students and local civil rights activists

In 1949, African American students and parents in Clarendon County sued the school board over unequal schools. Their lawsuit asking for equal buses, buildings and books was expanded into a case named Briggs v. Elliott, one of the first U.S. desegregation cases. Many of the parents who signed the petition lost their jobs, homes, and land and lived with threats from the Ku Klux Klan and White business owners. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down school segregation in the Briggs v. Elliott and Brown v. Board (1954) decisions. Still, many South Carolina schools remained segregated for another 16 years. Clarendon parents continued their fight for equitable schools well after South Carolina schools desegregated.

Image courtesy of South Caroliniana Library

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