Shirley Black-Oliver is a retired voter registrar as of December 30th who was born and raised in Summerton, South Carolina. In 1992, she started working with the voter registrar office and then became a clerk. Two years later, she then became the voter registrar director.
When asked what made Shirley want to become a voter registrar, she replied, “When I was in high school, I was involved in a civics class under the leadership of my teacher, he made sure we knew about individuals that gave up their lives for African Americans to have the right to vote. I found that was something I really wanted to be involved in so I applied for the job. I also wanted to give back to the county and community.”
Working as the director of voter registration, there are many things that have to be done and accomplished. She has handled all of the elections for Clarendon County which includes state-wide, county-wide, municipal, and school board.
Serving as the State President for the South Carolina Association of Registration and Elections allowed Shirley Black many experiences with voting and with personal growth. Shirley has worked on the Federal Election Commission for three years, which has given her the opportunity to go to conferences and meet a variety of people from various countries, counties and states. When meeting people from other countries, she learned about their voting systems and how their countries regulated their voting.
When asked how this career impacted her life, she explained, “Growing up there were so many things being said with the race aspect, but working with both Democrats and Republicans gave me the opportunity to see that people were people. Being a part of a particular party doesn’t make a person racist, and they shouldn’t be classified as a particular party but as human beings. It also gave me the opportunity to work with people of different ages, dynamics, religious beliefs and political beliefs. I worked with all people and saw that we’re all the same in most ways.” Being so seasoned with her experiences, when asked what advice she would give for future registrars seeking a career, she replied, “You have to stay unbiased when you’re working in the election process and treat everyone the same regardless of your political beliefs or opinions. There are individuals who will try to make your job hard but always stay focused.”
As her retirement approaches, she plans to still be involved with the election process. As of right now, she plans to spend as much time with her family and grandchildren. Mrs. Shirley would like for everyone to know, “I’m not disappearing! It has been an honor and privilege to serve you all as your voter registration director, and I will continue to be a part of the election process.”