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Published on March 4th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Making a Way Out of No Way: The Legacy of Modjeska Monteith Simkins Opens at Simkins’ House

COLUMBIA, S.C. —Historic Columbia opens its first exhibit at the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House on Sunday, March 16 with an open house from 1 to 5 pm. Through this permanent exhibit, Historic Columbia tells the story of South Carolina’s most influential human rights advocate of the 20th century.

Simkins worked for social reform all her life, during a time when it was not only difficult for her to be of color but also a woman. While heavily involved with the NAACP and other activist groups, Simkins’ most significant work was on the 1950 South Carolina Federal District Court case Briggs v. Elliott, a lawsuit that called for equalization of black Clarendon County Schools with white schools. This case was eventually reworked as one of several cases that directly challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine in the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In 1981, a coalition of civil rights groups including the Columbia NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, the National Council of Negro Women and the Urban League honored Simkins for her untiring efforts to aid the underrepresented and underprivileged. Later, she received the state’s highest honor from the governor, the Order of the Palmetto, for her lifetime of work.

This exhibit combines images, text, video and never-before displayed artifacts to offer unprecedented coverage of the activist, her life, work and lasting impact on the state of South Carolina. This exhibit is offered free to the public on five dates in March and April thanks to the generous support of our sponsors:
· Sunday, March 16, 1 pm to 5 pm – Opening Day: view the exhibit and speak with scholars, activists and family members who knew and worked with Mrs. Simkins
· Thursday, March 20, 11 am to 1 pm
· Tuesday, March 25, 4 pm to 6 pm
· Thursday, April 3, 11 am to 1 pm
· Tuesday, April 8, 4 pm to 6 pm

Private tours can also be arranged for groups of 10 or more.

Home to Modjeska Monteith Simkins from 1932 until her death on April 5, 1992, the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House is a one-story cottage at 2025 Marion Street in downtown Columbia that was used for lodging and as a meeting space for local and national civil rights leaders and NAACP lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall during a time when blacks were excluded from city hotels.

Making a Way Out of No Way is made possible by Humanities Council SC, Columbia SC 63, South Carolina Community Bank, Martha Cunningham Monteith, Johnson, Toal & Battiste, P.A., the city of Columbia, Richland County and the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties.


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