Featured Image: Septima Poinsette Clark, StanfordUniversity.com
March is Women’s History Month, and South Carolina is full of women who made history. From Civil Rights activists to trailblazing judges, here are just five women from South Carolina who paved the way for a better future for us:
Septima Poinsette Clark
Septima Clark is known as the “Queen Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” for her exceptional work as a teacher to both students and adults. She succeeded in her mission to establish Citizenship Schools across the South and taught many African-Americans how to read and write so they could eventually go on to vote. She was also a leader in the NAACP and helped lead the effort for equal pay for all teachers. Learn more about Septima Clark and her amazing work here.
Charlotta Spears Bass
Charlotta Bass was a newspaper editor/publisher and civil rights activist born in Sumter in 1874. While she was born in South Carolina, most of her activism took place in California after moving there for health reasons. As a newspaper editor and publisher, Bass focused most of her efforts on issues such as the Ku Klux Klan, police brutality, and many others. Her civil rights work inspired her to take a stab at politics and in 1952 she became the first African-American to run for national office. To learn more about Charlotta Bass and her activism, visit PBS.
Judge Connor was a judicial trailblazer. Born in Kingstree, Judge Connor went on to become a third generation lawyer until becoming a circuit judge for Richland and Kershaw counties. After five years as a circuit judge, Judge Connor went on to become the first female to serve as an acting member of the South Carolina supreme court in 1984. She passed away in 2004 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Read more about Judge Connor here.
Marian Wright Edelman
A native of Bennettsville, Marian Wright Edelman became a great advocate for children. After graduating from Yale Law School, Edelman became the first African-American female to be admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She went on to create the Washington Research Project which eventually became the Children’s Defense Fund. She was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 for her achievements and advocacy for all children. Learn more about Marian Wright Edelman here.
Mary Gordon Ellis
After college, Mary Gordon Ellis moved to Jasper County where she taught, became a high school principal, and eventually ran and was elected for Superintendent of Education. Her goal was to reform the education system and stress better teaching. She specifically wanted to help segregated schools and bought new school supplies and books for African-American schools. Angering many white Jasper residents, she was fired Jasper County House member H.K. Purdy in 1928. So, when Purdy filed to run for the South Carolina Senate, Ellis did too. And, she won becoming the first female to be elected to the South Carolina Senate. To read more on Mary Gordon Ellis, click here.
For a full list of notable South Carolina women visit our source here.