Champions of Civil and Human Rights in South Carolina

By White, John W. | The Journal of Southern History, May 2018 | Go to article overview

Champions of Civil and Human Rights in South Carolina


White, John W., The Journal of Southern History


Champions of Civil and Human Rights in South Carolina. Volume 1: Dawn of the Movement Era, 1955-1967. Edited by Marvin Ira Lare. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2016. Pp. xvi, 451. $59.99, ISBN 978-1 61117-724-4.)

Champions of Civil and Human Rights in South Carolina, Volume 1: Dawn of the Movement Era, 1955-1967 is an edited collection of transcribed oral histories with people who engaged in racial and social justice movements during the mid-twentieth century in South Carolina. Edited and introduced by the Reverend Marvin Ira Lare, the book includes the transcriptions of interviews conducted by Lare and his research assistants or drawn from interviews held by archives. The first volume in a planned five-volume anthology contains thirtyfive interviews, the bulk of which Lare conducted.

Overall, the volume is a welcome addition to literature on the postwar civil rights era in South Carolina. It includes interviews with well-known figures in the movement, such as James E. Clybum, Septima Poinsette Clark, Harvey Gantt, and Cleveland Sellers, but it also provides a wealth of interviews with lesser known but significant figures. Interviews with Fred Henderson Moore, James E. Sulton Sr., and Matthew Douglas McCollom, for example, offer valuable insight into the struggle for racial justice in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in the years preceding the Orangeburg Massacre, providing critical context to a tragedy too often described as an isolated incident. Other interviews, such as one with Frederick C. James, discuss places like Sumter, where significant activism took place but which have received limited attention from scholars.

Some may quibble with Lare's periodization, an issue he acknowledges in the prologue. Scholars of the postwar freedom struggle in South Carolina recognize that organized challenges to de jure segregation in the mid-to-late 1940s are key to understanding civil rights activism in the state. …

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