Edwards v. South Carolina
On March 2, 1961, over 200 African American college and high school students marched 6 blocks from Zion Baptist Church to the S.C. State House in an NAACP organized protest of racial segregation. Led by Benedict College theology student David Carter, protesters walked the capitol grounds, carried signs, and, when ordered to disperse, sang patriotic and religious songs. Despite the orderly nature of the protest, 190 people were arrested for disturbing the peace.
Defended by NAACP lawyers, including local attorneys Matthew Perry and Lincoln C. Jenkins Jr., 187 students appealed their convictions to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1963, the Court ruled 8-1 that the arrests violated the 1st and 14th Amendments. The decision, styled Edwards v. South Carolina after lead plaintiff James Edwards Jr., was a landmark ruling cited to defend activists across the U.S., declaring states may not “make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views.”
Sponsored by Columbia S.C. 63, 2020