James T. McCain

Teacher and civil rights organizer

James T. McCain (1905-2003), from Sumter, South Carolina lost his principal position in Marion County in 1949 because he would not speak against the Summerton-based Briggs v. Elliott legal case and involvement in the NAACP. Later, in 1955, when serving as principal of Scott’s Branch High School in Summerton, he lost his job because he was active in the Sumter County branch of the NAACP. He served as the southern field director for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1957. He led sit-ins and protests across the South, including the Freedom Rides in 1961. In South Carolina, he organized seven CORE groups to work on voter registration and support the state’s sit-in movement. McCain managed more than 30 Freedom Schools and coordinated more than 70,000 Black and White volunteers.

Image courtesy of South Caroliniana Library

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