Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Bobby Donaldson


Despite a growing body of research on African American schoolteachers and their role in the civil rights movement, as well as increased interest in South Carolina’s civil rights movement, few historians have uncovered the contributions black schoolteachers made to the South Carolina movement. Additionally, while many histories have highlighted how integral the NAACP was to the civil rights movement, few have revealed the deliberate relationship they built with black teachers associations. This dissertation uses the NAACP papers, political manuscript collections, oral histories, newspaper and magazine articles, and court documents to address this gap in the historiography. Chapter 1 discusses the Charleston black teacher hiring campaign of 1917-1920 in which the newly created NAACP chapter fought to get black teachers placed in the city’s black schools. Chapter 2 examines the 1940s teacher salary equalization campaign in which the NAACP filed lawsuits on behalf of local teachers to acquire salary equalization between white and black teachers. Chapter 3 focuses on the Clarendon County movement, which started in the 1940s as a fight to acquire bus transportation for black students, grew into a fight for equal school facilities, and became the first of five the desegregation cases that culminated into the historic Brown decision. Chapter 4 examines a 1956 case in which twenty-one teachers in Elloree, South Carolina lost their jobs for their alleged connection to the NAACP. Chapter 5 looks at the case of Orangeburg schoolteacher Gloria Rackley who was dismissed from her job because of her civil rights activism. Collectively, these chapters not only prove that black teachers played an integral role in South Carolina's civil rights movement, but that they were vital in pushing the movement from one of racial uplift and equalization to a mass protest and desegregation.


© 2018, Candace Cunningham

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