COLUMBIA, S.C. – Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland traveled to South Carolina today to highlight the Interior Department’s commitment to help tell a more complete story of America.
Secretary Haaland, National Park Service (NPS) Director Chuck Sams and Congressman James E. Clyburn visited sites that will soon be part of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park. President Biden signed the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park Expansion and Redesignation Act into law in May, providing for inclusion of additional related sites in the National Park System to reflect a more complete story of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in public schools.
In Summerton, Secretary Haaland and the group toured Summerton High School and Scott’s Branch High School. Built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Summerton High School was an all-white school that refused to admit Black students, prompting the Briggs v. Elliott case which challenged school segregation. Built in 1951 under the guise of providing facilities comparable to those for white students, Scott’s Branch High School served as an “equalization school” for Black students. Along with other sites in Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia, these two school sites will be added to the Historical Park upon acquisition by NPS.
The group also visited Benedict College to highlight investments to preserve Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Established in 1870 during the Reconstruction Era, Benedict College initially trained teachers and preachers but later grew to include more traditional academic and trade professions. The college has received $3 million from NPS’ HBCU grant program which helps document, preserve and stabilize historic structures on the campuses of HBCUs. In 2022, NPS is investing $9.7 million in 21 projects across 9 states to preserve noteworthy districts, buildings and sites on HBCU campuses that honor the past and tell the ongoing story of these vital institutions.
Secretary Haaland and the leaders group later celebrated a new cooperative agreement between NPS and the University of South Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights Research to conserve and better understand American civil rights history. With a $3.4 million investment, NPS and the Center will advance much-needed scholarship and serve as a national model for interdisciplinary work in civil rights history, research, and education. The partnership will support expansion of the Center’s work and establish new ways to deepen the understanding of pivotal moments and people in the American civil rights movement.