Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Christian K. Anderson


This research utilized historical analysis, narrative inquiry, and oral history to document and analyze Black educational experiences in the Chapin, Dutch Fork, and Irmo communities during segregation and desegregation. Archival materials from the local school district offered insight into district leaders’ attitudes towards Richlex, the only public school available to the area’s Black students between 1953 and 1966, as well as the conditions that district leaders created for Black students and educators. Former students’ stories were centered in both the examination of what the local Black communities accomplished in spite of the unequal conditions of the segregated era and in the analysis of Black student experiences during desegregation. Richlex’s educators and community created a school celebrated by participants for its nurturing and gifted teachers, the sense of kinship fostered within the school, and the meaningful, long-lasting relationships between families and educators. Richlex built on the traditions of Black education, engaged students in the ongoing struggle for racial equality, and supported students in their endeavors after Richlex. As the district desegregated, however, the board and administration failed to build on Richlex’s extraordinary successes. Black students developed supportive relationships and gained access to new opportunities and resources during desegregation, but they also experienced abuse, anxiety, and racial isolation. The number of Black teachers decreased as the district desegregated, and the effects of Black educator displacement were felt by Black students. This study concludes with an exploration of contemporary issues influencing the experiences of Black students and educators in the district. More than fifty years later after desegregation, segregation and desegregation-era inequities persist and continue to influence Black educational experiences. Though there are signs of progress, there is considerable work left to do if we hope to fulfill the vision of the Richlex alma mater and propel our students “Forward—Upward—On!”


© 2022, Charles A. Holden