By Barney Blakeney
Last month North Charleston city officials dedicated a part of Collins Park that includes the playground and basketball court in honor of Rev. Ed McClain. McClain is a retired AME Church pastor of Calvary AME Church in North Charleston and an educator who retired as principal at Norman C. Toole Elementary School in North Charleston. The park is located off Dorchester Road on Fellowship Road and serves several predominantly Black communities.
“I am grateful first because someone thought of me in that sense, and because the person who nominated me for the honor (North Charleston City Council District 2 Representative Michael Brown) is a former student of mine. I’m also grateful knowing that the vote to give me the honor was unanimous,” said McClain.
The Awendaw native graduated Lincoln High School as a gifted athlete who played baseball, basketball, football and swam. He went on to attend Allen University in Columbia and the District of Columbia Teachers College where he also played sports. McClain received a master’s degree in education from George Washington University and an educational specialist degree from The Citadel. He attended the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned a doctorate degree from Campbell Bible College.
For thirty-seven years, McClain served in the field of education as a teacher and assistant principal in two Washington, D. C., schools and since 1974 served as an Assistant Principal of Wallace Middle School in Charleston and Principal of Edith L. Frierson Elementary School on Wadmalaw Island before retiring in 1990 as the Principal of Norman C. Toole Middle School in North Charleston.
For 33 years McClain served as Pastor of Calvary AME Church in the Union Heights community of North Charleston and simultaneously hosted the Gospel Train morning radio program on WWWZ-93 radio station.
A dedicated public servant, McClain was appointed to serve on the first Charleston County Users Fee Board. He served on the Charleston County Aviation Authority Board and was elected to the Charleston County School District 10 School Board. He served as a member of the board of directors for the Charleston Development Academy Charter School, Inc., for the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Incorporation, and for the Low Country Food Bank Kid’s Café. McClain was the co-founder of Youth Partnerships for a Healthy Community, was the Vice President of the National Alliance of Church and Social Action over Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina and was the chairman of both the Noisette Prisoner Re-entry Housing Committee and the Awendaw Community Council.
McClain said it’s important to him that the park named in his honor is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. “I’ve spent most of my life fighting for equal rights for all people and I’ll spend the rest of my life fighting for equal rights for all people,” he said. “I want all people to have equal opportunities. I want that for my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and my great-great-grandchildren.”
McClain is married to the former Sallie S. White of Awendaw. Together they have nine children – two boys and seven girls. Their fifth oldest child is three-time Olympiad, Katrina McClain Pittman. In 2001, the McClain’s were honored as South Carolina Parents of the Year.