Published on January 26th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
The SCEA Honors Dr. James L. Solomon Jr. for Human and Civil Rights Achievement
Pictured from left: Bernadette R. Hampton, President, The SCEA; Jacqueline Phillips, Dr. James L. Solomon and Kathryn Templeton
Submitted by Kristine Hartvigsen, The SCEA
COLUMBIA – The South Carolina Education Association (The SCEA), honored Dr. James L. Solomon with its 2015 Walker E. Solomon Award. Dr. Solomon blazed the trail for future generations when he enrolled in graduate school at the University of South Carolina in 1963, becoming the University’s first African-American student since Reconstruction. He soon went on to more firsts, becoming the first African-American in several key state government positions under three governors. His significant public service contributions twice earned him the Order of the Palmetto, presented by Governor Richard Riley and Governor Carroll Campbell.
“We are delighted to recognize this dedicated public servant who has done so much to advance human and civil rights in South Carolina,” The SCEA President Bernadette R. Hampton said. “Through his deeds and actions, Dr. Solomon has courageously opened doors that had long been closed to African-Americans and other citizens of color.”
Dr. Solomon was a state agency director under Governor John West, Division Director at the Commission on Higher Education under Governor Riley, and Commissioner of the state Department of Social Services under Governors Riley and Campbell. Dr. Solomon drafted the South Carolina Desegregation Plan for Public Colleges and Universities during his service in the Riley Administration. This led to the successful recruitment of underrepresented students to USC and other state institutions of higher learning.
A Georgia native, Dr. Solomon received his undergraduate degree from Morris College and his master’s degree from Atlanta University. He subsequently received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Morris College and a Doctor of Laws from Columbia College. During his career, he was elected to the boards of Sumter School District 17 and Richland School District One, as well as to Richland County Council.
Dr. Solomon is Chairman of the South Carolina Institute on Poverty and Deprivation and Chairman of the Palmetto Development Group. He previously served as President of the American Public Welfare Association and as Chairman of the Columbia Urban League.
Also honored at the event were two civic-minded South Carolina students whose efforts in their schools and communities have helped enhance the sense of worth and dignity of others. Jacqueline Phillips of North Augusta High School and Kathryn Templeton of Dutch Fork High School are the 2015 recipients of the Richard W. Riley Award.
An honor student, Ms. Phillips is student body president at North Augusta High School, where she also is president of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter. She placed first at the FBLA State Competition in the categories of Community Service and Public Speaking.
Ms. Phillips has helped the American Red Cross organize three successful blood drives at her school. She also has made presentations to middle and high schools, as well as adult groups, about the Community Service Project I-Care: Creating Awareness, Research, and Education for Healthy Lifestyle Choices. Through Project I-Care, more than $1,025 was raised for the American Cancer Society.
An active volunteer with many organizations in her community, Ms. Phillips is the chair of this year’s FBLA Community Service Project GRAD, which encourages students to graduate despite their obstacles. She also works to raise awareness about bullying.
Ms. Templeton began serving her community early; at age 2, she was the March of Dimes baby. More recently, in 2013, she received the Certificate of Excellence from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Program, one of the nation’s largest youth-recognition programs for volunteer community service. She also received Prudential Investment Management’s President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing more than 100 hours of service. That recognition came with a letter of congratulations from President Barack Obama on White House stationery, as well as a personal letter from U.S. Sen. Joe Wilson. Last year, Ms. Templeton was named a local winner of the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program.
Ms. Templeton and her best friend, Katherine Meyers, in 2011 established a nonprofit organization to provide supplies to needy schools in rural communities. They created a website for their charity ─ K-4-Kids.com ─ and have donated more than 50,000 school supplies throughout the state to children in homeless or domestic violence shelters to elementary schools.
“We are so proud of these two young ladies for their hard work and determination,” Hampton said. “They have made a real difference in their communities and are setting a great example for their peers to emulate.”
The South Carolina Education Association is the state’s oldest and most powerful professional association for educators and the leading advocate for quality public education in South Carolina. Learn more at www.thescea.org.