Civil Rights Tour through Orangeburg & Clarendon Counties

The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission suggests the following trip itinerary through Orangeburg and Clarendon counties to enrich your vacation in South Carolina. Trips like this are outstanding, day-long excursions suitable for family reunions, fraternity / sorority get-togethers, meetings and other gatherings. A link to a route mapped out in is at the bottom of the page. For details about other day-trips, including best practices for trip planning, click here.

9:00 a.m. Claflin University – Tingley Memorial Hall – 400 Magnolia Street, Orangeburg — (803) 535-5000
Claflin is one of the most thriving HBCUs in South Carolina. Several of the historic buildings on campus, including the iconic Tingley Memorial Hall administration building, were designed by African American architect William W. Cooke, a Greenville native who earned degrees from MIT and Columbia University, and supervised construction work for the federal government for 22 years. Claflin students also participated in Civil Rights protests in the 1950s and 1960s. Click here to request a tour
time at site 1 hour, depending on guided tour. Contact the university.
10:15 a.m. South Carolina State University – 300 College Street NE, Orangeburg – 803-536-7000
S.C. State University was founded in 1896 as the Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural & Mechanical College of S.C., with its origins in the Morrill Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890 providing for land-grant colleges. Intended “for the best education of the hand, head and heart of South Carolina’s young manhood and womanhood of the Negro race,” it became S.C. State College in 1954 and S.C. State University in 1992. SC State has been called “at least symbolically, the most important educational institution in black Carolina since its founding.”


Students were active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, taking part in sit-ins, and the Orangeburg Movement of 1963-64 seeking desegregation of downtown businesses. In 1968 South Carolina State students’ protest of the segregation of the All Star Bowling Lanes turned into tragedy. During a confrontation between angry students and local law enforcement, state highway patrolmen fired into a group of students, killing three of them and wounding 28 others. A monument to the memory of Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, and Delano Middleton was erected.

time at site 1 hour, depending on guided tour. Contact the university.
11:30 a.m. Trinity United Methodist Church – 185 Boulevard Street NE, Orangeburg – 803-534-7759
Trinity served as headquarters for the Orangeburg Movement during the 1960s, and hosted many civil rights meetings and rallies attended by leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Thurgood Marshall. The church, established in 1866, built its first sanctuary four blocks SE from this site in 1870. Construction began on this sanctuary in 1928 and was completed in 1944.
time at site 30 minutes
12:30 p.m. Lunch – Gullah Gullah Fish, 23 West Boyce Street, Manning, SC 29102, 803-825-9004 (open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
3:00 p.m. Historic Liberty AME Church – 2310 Liberty Hill Road, Summerton – 803-478-4812
Meetings held here in the 1940s and 1950s led to local court cases that helped bring about the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling desegregating public schools. Nineteen members of this congregation were plaintiffs in the case of Briggs v. Elliott, heard in U.S. District Court in Charleston in 1952. Although the three-judge panel refused to abolish racial segregation in S.C. schools, a dissenting opinion influenced the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
time at site 1 hour
4:15 p.m. Summerton High School – South Church Street, Summerton (GPS coordinates 33.606667, -80.343056) – 803-485-2325
Built in 1936 for white students, Summerton High School is significant for its close association with the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down segregation in public education. In 1947 Levi Pearson, a black landowner, petitioned the local school board to provide school bus transportation for his children, detailing the glaring differences in expenditures, buildings, and services available for white and black students. That petition led to a series of court cases that eventually resulted in the Brown v. Board decision in 1954. Of the five schools mentioned in Pearson’s petition, Summerton High School is the only one still standing.
time at site – 30 minutes
MAPQUEST route itinerary —,-80.851763/to/us/sc/orangeburg/29115-5525/300-college-st-ne-33.501632,-80.853724/to/us/sc/orangeburg/29115-6042/185-boulevard-st-ne-33.495635,-80.856024/to/us/sc/summerton/29148/2310-liberty-hill-rd-33.591094,-80.389282/to/near-33.606667,-80.343056