Summerton has been known for many things over the years, but they will now be given the credit they deserve for shaping the history of our country. Long before the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, there was another case that cleared the way and it started in the small town of Summerton. What began as a request for school buses for black students, soon became a movement for desegregation among schools in the area.
U.S. Supreme Court case, Briggs vs. Elliott, was presented in 1952. The request was simple: transportation for black students to get to and from school, since most were walking more than eight miles one way. The white schools in the area had buses and the advocates for the black students wanted the same for their students. The request was denied, but that did not stop those seeking equality for the students of Summerton. Although homes were destroyed by fire and jobs were lost, the activists kept moving forward. Eventually, Briggs vs. Elliott joined forces with Brown vs. Board of Education with the backing of the NAACP and they won. Not only would black students have access to transportation to and from school, they would now be able to attend school with the white students.
President for the Summerton Community Action Group, Robert McFaddin, remembers when the schools came together. He said he can remember those locker room moments that were uncomfortable at first but also has good memories of the community coming together. McFaddin has been working hard to get Summerton the recognition it deserves with the historic case of Briggs vs. Elliott and he can see that hard work paying off now.
The National Parks Service has acquired two buildings in Summerton and will list the small town as a stop along the National Heritage Corridor, which celebrates those who sought equality in our country. The hope is that this will help boost the tourism industry in the area as well as let people know of the rich history behind the small town and how it shaped the country we know today.
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