South Carolina’s only Democrat in Congress will donate his official papers and other documents to the University of South Carolina as part of a new civil rights center announced Monday.
Congressman Jim Clyburn revealed the contribution to the university’s new Center for Civil Rights History and Research during a ceremony Monday.
“I hope that I can play a role in bringing the role in bringing the real story of South Carolina to those who would benefit from it,” Clyburn said during the ceremony.
USC already has a significant collection of papers from some of the state’s most noted civil rights leaders, including Joseph A. De Laine, John Bolt Culbertson, I. DeQuincey Newman and Modjeska Monteith Simkins, but school leaders say they want to house the documents in a single location rather than scattered across its massive library collections.
“In 2013, when USC commemorated the 50th anniversary of USC’s desegregation… we had already built a substantial political collection from key South Carolina figures, but realized that there needed to be an additional place to zero in on the state’s unique civil rights history—a place that would be accessible not only to USC students but to scholars worldwide,” President Harris Pastides said. “The Center for Civil Rights History and Research, anchored by Congressman Clyburn’s Congressional papers, is that place, and will house a substantial and growing collection that will tell the story of the ongoing struggle for equality and social justice in South Carolina.”
The center will be housed in the Hollings Special Collections Library and will provide educational programming, conferences and lectures, and serve as a repository for primary documents for researchers interested in civil rights, said University Libraries Dean Thomas McNally.
“It is a hope that this center will be a destination for interdisciplinary research and advocacy, for public education and the training of teachers, and for museums and exhibits,” said history professor Bobby Donaldson, who will chair the new center’s implementation committee. “To give those who want to know more about the important work of South Carolina a vehicle and platform to tell more deeply the story of civil rights.”
Clyburn is not personally a graduate of South Carolina — he got a history degree from South Carolina State University — but said he believed USC’s collection of civil rights documents was an appropriate place for his papers. Clyburn, who has served in the U.S. House since his 1992 election, was the only African-American to represent the state in Congress during the 20th Century.
McNally said the center will start small, initially being housed in the Hollings Library. He hopes that eventually there will be a facility for the center, similar to those in other states around the country.