A group of 23 public school teachers from across South Carolina reversed roles and became students recently when they participated in the 2018 School Desegregation in South Carolina Summer Institute. The institute was sponsored by the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC). The mission of SCAAHC is to identify and promote the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina and to assist and enhance the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Jannie Harriot, vice chairperson of SCAAHC, said the purpose of the five day institute was “to provide teachers with additional resources they can use to enhance their teaching of the state’s history that reflects African American heritage.” She went on to add that it helped “teachers create lesson plans for grades K-12 based on the public school desegregation lawsuits in Darlington County and Clarendon County, Stanley v. the Darlington County Board of Education and Briggs v. Elliot, respectively.” Harriot, who is also the executive director of SCAAHC’s fundraising arm (the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation) also said, “We applied to the South Carolina Arts Commission for a grant to conduct this institute and to bring teachers together to write the plans.”
Wallace Foxworth is an eighth-grade social studies instructor who teaches South Carolina history at Johnakin Middle School in Marion. He said the institute expanded his understanding of how school desegregation happened. Meeting people involved with those cases, such as Nathaniel Briggs, the son of Harry Briggs, Sr., lead plaintiff in Briggs v. Elliott and Joseph DeLaine, Jr., whose father was also involved in the case, was inspirational.
“I wanted to gain a better view of what is out there besides what we find in the textbooks,” Foxworth said. “The textbooks have a certain slant on history and sometimes the slant is misguided concerning the contributions of African Americans…To be a more effective history teacher and bring more balance to history, this is something I feel is necessary.”
In addition to learning about the school desegregation cases, institute participants also learned about other facets of African American history in South Carolina they can incorporate into lesson plans. Mary Hoyt, a music teacher who teaches strings to fifth and sixth grade students at Chapin Intermediate School said she already has some ideas about how to incorporate information she learned about jazz great and Cheraw native Dizzy Gillespie into lesson plans.
“I just love history,” Hoyt said. “I am not from South Carolina and I find South Carolina to be a fascinating place with so many layers of history. I welcome the chance to learn more and enrich my classroom for my students. I feel privileged to be here.”
The teachers will submit 20 lesson plans that will go into a teacher’s guide that the South Carolina Department of Education will disseminate across the state for teachers to use in their classrooms. Teachers who participated in the institute included Jasmine Govan, Stephanie Gold, Kay Ingram of Richland District 1, Melinda Hanna, Allison Geddings, Joceline Murdock, Ashley Rogers of Darlington County School District, Andrea Walker of Allendale County Schools, Wallace Foxworth of Marion County Schools, Amy Robinson of Beaufort School District, Mary Hoyt of Lexington/Richland School District, Tracy Carter, Lisa Hyman, Michael Jenkins of Florence District 1, Wonda Hilliard of Greenville County Schools, Brian Day of Calhoun County Schools, Barbara Bodison of Berkeley County Schools, Coastal Carolina University English professor Dr. Veronica Gerald and retired educator Patricia Evans Hall.
Institute presenters included Jean Grosser, Professor of Art at Coker College, Joy Young of the South Carolina Arts Commission, Dr. Larry D. Watson, Professor of History at South Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina, Dr. Bobby Donaldson, Professor of History at University of South Carolina and the Center for Civil Rights History and Research, Dr. Valinda Littlefield, Director of African American Studies at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Louis Venters, Associate Professor of History at Francis Marion University, Dr. Jennifer Heusel, Assistant Professor of Communication at Coker College, Brian Gandy of the Darlington County Historical Commission, Felicia Flemming McCall of the Southern African American Heritage Center, photographer Cecil Williams, Joseph DeLaine and Nathaniel Briggs of Briggs v. Elliott, historian James Felder and historian and Charleston area tour guide Alada Shinault Small.
For more information about the institute, contact Jannie Harriot (843) 332-3589.