Modjeska Simkins

Civil rights activist and public health advocate

Modjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992), from Columbia, South Carolina, was a driving force in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina for decades. She began her career as a teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. In 1931, Simkins became the Director of Negro Work for the S.C. Tuberculosis Association and was the state’s only full-time African American public health worker. She was a key strategist and local activist for the South Carolina NAACP, the Southern Negro Youth Congress (1946), and the Richland County Citizens Committee in the 1960s and 1970s. Simkins aided important civil rights cases, such as Briggs v. Elliott, and raised money to improve health care for African Americans. Her portrait hangs in the South Carolina State House.

Image courtesy of South Caroliniana Library

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