Old Greyhound Bus Station

Students from across the state coming to Columbia to participate in Civil Rights activities typically rode the Greyhound bus system and arrived in the city at this location. Given its segregated waiting rooms and cafeteria, this site also became the staging ground for many sit-in demonstrations. Read More

Malcolm X Visits Columbia

On April 17, 1963, Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X delivered a series of powerful addresses in Columbia. Born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X emerged by the 1950s as the chief lieutenant of the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) leader Elijah Muhammad. Invited to speak at the Township Auditorium… Read More

Barr v City of Columbia Historic Marker

On March 15, 1960, five African American students from Benedict College – Charles Barr, David Carter, Richard Counts, Milton Greene, and Johnny Clark – were arrested after refusing to leave the lunch counter at the Taylor Street Pharmacy, which once operated in a building now occupied by Hawthorne’s Pharmacy. Their… Read More

Bouie v City of Columbia Historic Marker

On March 14, 1960, African American college students Simon Bouie of Allen University and Talmadge Neal of Benedict College led a protest march to the Eckerd’s luncheonette. The pair, inspired by student sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, were jailed and convicted for refusing to leave their seats after being denied… Read More

The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Integration & Racial Dialogue

Seeking to protect Columbia’s growing national reputation as an “All-American City” amidst a growing number of protests, Mayor Lester Bates held informal meetings with black leaders and white businessmen. In August 1962, eight downtown chain stores, including Eckerd’s and Woolworth’s, served black customers for the first time. White counter-protesters picketed… Read More

Columbia in the 1960s: The State House and Public Protest

South Carolinians found themselves at a major crossroads during the 1960s. In rural towns and cities across the state, African Americans and white supporters waged public protests, filed lawsuits, and registered voters. On March 2, 1961, 187 protesters were arrested following a planned demonstration on the South Carolina State House… Read More

Columbia SC 63: Our Story Matters

In South Carolina’s capital city, courageous student activists, attorneys, and civil rights organizations waged a campaign to transform Columbia. Too many of Columbia’s pivotal moments and landmark decisions have been forgotten. Too many of our stories have never been heard. By gathering images and testimony, the mission of the Columbia… Read More

We Shall Not Be Moved: South Carolina Student Activism and the Supreme Court

The South Carolina NAACP used direct protest and lawsuits to dismantle the foundations of racial segregation. The organization’s legal team successfully argued cases to equalize teacher salaries, end the “whites only” Democratic Party, and abolish segregation in public schools and transportation. Following the emergence of the student protest movement in… Read More

A Living Sanctuary: Zion Baptist Church & Columbia’s Civil Rights Struggle

After the Civil War, African American churches helped the formation of strong communities across the American South. During the Jim Crow era, African American ministers and church members led social and civic organizations that challenged injustice and segregation. Founded in 1865, Zion Baptist Church moved to 801 Washington Street in… Read More

African American History Monument

Welcome to our Virtual Civil Rights Tour! Our walking tour starts at the African American History Monument on the South Carolina State House grounds. Please proceed north on Main Street to explore the stops featured on our Main Street “Our Story Matters” tour. Zooming out will display additional historic points… Read More