Separate schools weren’t equal

An historian from Columbia speaking in Seneca today brought alive South Carolina events from a half century ago when the state sponsored separate schools for the races. In spite of intentions to apply South Carolina’s first sales tax from 1951 to building separate but equal schools, Rebekah Dobrasko says the reality was that schools for blacks were inferior to schools for whites. Court cases would later lead to the de-segregation of public schools in 1963 and to mandated total integration by 1970. Dobrasko, guest speaker for Seneca’s Black History Month luncheon, said South Carolina had a long tradition of segregation, paternalism, and white supremacy. Change eventually came, though not as quickly as one would have thought following Brown versus Board of Education in 1955. The speaker showed slides of how white schools looked compared to black schools and played part of a 1936 video commissioned by the NAACP to reveal conditions. Dobrasko was engaged by the city of Seneca to help spotlight February as Black History Month and to spread word about the developing Strickland Museum on the grounds of the Lunney Museum, as a museum dedicated to local African-American history. Today’s luncheon also saw the unveiling of an example of the black and gray banners depicting South Sixth Street as Dr. Martin Luther King Way.