Few Americans realize that the “case of the century,” Brown v. Board of Education, started in the rural Carolinas. Though this case finished in the Supreme Court, it began with a Clarendon County preacher, Rev. Joseph A. De Laine, and his neighbors filing a lawsuit that demanded the end of separate, unequal schools for their children, according to the African American History Calendar.
This case and the hardships Rev. De Laine and others faced are explored in the S.C. State Museum’s new exhibit, “Courage: The Vision to End Segregation, the Guts to Fight for it.”
On March 5, 2015 Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. spoke to sponsors and supporters of the exhibit about the battle his father and other Clarendon County residents fought for desegregation. Families were threatened, careers were ruined, and lives were lost in order to break down the barriers of segregation.
“I once heard Mrs. Rosa Parks say when she sat on that bus that day, and she was asked to move, she thought about those people in Clarendon Count. ‘If those gallant people in Clarendon County could do what they did, then I could certainly sit on a bus here in Montgomery, Alabama,” Billie Fleming, Clarendon County NAACP said.
This exhibit has traveled the state of S.C. for three years before coming to the S.C. State Museum. Bud Ferillo, best known for his documentary “Corridor of Shame,” which documents the neglect of South Carolina’s rural schools and addresses the issue of inequality in education in low income areas in S.C., was instrumental in bringing this exhibit to Columbia.
The museum anticipates that thousands of children will visit the museum this year. These children will see the Courage exhibit and better understand the past struggle others fought for our present.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina is proud to be one of the six sponsors supporting this exhibit.