By Barney Blakeney
With the November 18 election of Lydia Oveta Glover as president of the Columbia Branch NAACP, two of the state’s largest branches now are headed by women. In December 2017, Brenda Cunningham Murphy became the first female president of the South Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches. She succeeded Dr. Lonnie Randolph who held the office the previous 14 years. Glover also succeeds Randolph who held the position of the Columbia branch president the previous 20 years.
Glover continues a legacy of service to the civil rights organization. Her grandfather was a former president of the Columbia Branch NAACP and in 1939 became the first president of the S.C. Conference of NAACP Branches. Her father, Rev. B.J. Glover, was president of both the Charleston and Columbia branches of the NAACP. Glover said as president, she can’t wait to start working with Murphy.
Glover said her work is cut out for her and includes initiatives to educate more people about the NAACP. Though the organization has been at the forefront of the civil rights struggle since its 1909 inception, too many people today don’t know its work, Glover said. In South Carolina, the nearly two-decade-old effort to remove the Confederate Flag from the S.C. Statehouse grounds offered some reference. But since that goal was achieved immediately after the racially motivated 2015 massacre of Black worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, much of the organization’s efforts have been stagnant.
Glover shares with Murphy a commitment to revitalize the NAACP. That means increasing membership – the Columbia Branch is the state’s largest – and making it more inclusive as Columbia and the state experiences a growing Hispanic community, Glover said.
Murphy said the bottom line is the NAACP needs to share more information. Branch activism within the respective communities will be essential to meet the different needs of those communities, she said. Glover added that their ascension to the top leadership positions in the state’s two largest NAACP branches represents an opportunity for change. As American culture focuses on the power of women they hope to make the NAACP much more visible. Murphy said that ability likely will be boosted by the fact that a significant number of the state’s NAACP branches already are headed by females.
In 1963, Glover was one of eleven students to integrate public schools in Charleston. After her family moved to Columbia she attended public schools of Richland County and graduated from C.A. Johnson High School. After high school she studied at Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio and completed her education at Benedict College in Columbia where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education.
Early in her career, Glover taught in the public-school systems of Columbia and Charleston. After returning to Columbia, she entered the business world as an entrepreneur. She has worked with students in many capacities from elementary school to the college level. She worked at Voorhees College in Denmark, at Benedict College and currently at Allen University, both in Columbia, as the director of Residential Life and Housing.