Struggling To Learn: An Intimate History of School Desegregation in South Carolina

Univ. of South Carolina. Mar. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781643362595. $29.99. ED
Thomas (emerita, urban planning, Univ. of Mich.; Planned Progress) offers a unique, deeply personal look at integration in South Carolina, one of the last states to accept desegregation. She outlines the roles that two Historically Black Colleges and Universities—Claflin College and South Carolina State (located in her hometown, Orangeburg)—played in the desegregation movement. Thomas also describes the ostracism and harassment she experienced as one of the first Black students to attend Orangeburg High School. Making effective use of archival materials and interviews, she identifies the educators, religious leaders, and educators who laid the foundation for desegregation and who provided Black Americans with a vision of a better future. As Thomas deftly intertwines these narratives, she also discusses ways in which Black activists led protests and pushed for legislation in spite of the injustices imposed by the dominant class of white South Carolinians. She points out that U.S. school segregation exists to this day, as white parents opt for private schools or move into white-majority districts, and she challenges readers to learn about the destruction wrought by racism and about actions to overcome it.
VERDICT A powerful, enlightening read; highly recommended for readers interested in the civil rights movement, the struggle for educational equity, and South Carolina history.
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