These images represent content featured in our African American History Collection.
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The date of January 24, 1848 started out as a typical work day for carpenter James W. Marshall, who was tasked with constructing a water-powered sawmill in Coloma, California. While digging a channel, Marshall looked down and noticed shiny metallic flakes in the water below him. What Marshall discovered would trigger one of the largest single movements of human beings in world history. Once President James K. Polk confirmed the presence of gold in California, thousands of people from the United States and abroad caught “gold fever,” and flocked to California with hopes and dreams of striking it rich. The California Gold Rush transformed the United States forever, and fast tracked California to becoming a state in 1850. Join our cartoon avatar host as he takes viewers through a brief historical expose on the California Gold Rush!
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Ernest Finney was the first African American chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. He left an indelible mark on the legal system with his unwavering commitment to justice and equality.
Ernest Finney was the attorney for the "Friendship Nine," a group of African American men who were arrested and convicted in 1961 for staging a sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He helped to argue their case before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Although they were originally found guilty and sentenced to prison, Finney helped to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the convictions.
Finney's efforts helped to bring national attention to the Civil Rights Movement and the fight against segregation in the South.
Ernest A. Finney, Jr., was born in Smithfield, Virginia during the depression, on March 23, 1931. His mother died 10 days after he was born and his father was a teacher who traveled as part of his work. When his father was working in Washington, D.C, Finney as he was called, was impressed with the well-dressed, articulate lawyers with whom his father then worked. Even as he followed his father into the teaching profession, he’d set his sights on a career in law. In 1954 Finney got his juris degree from South Carolina State University, and also married Frances Davenport and the pair moved to Sumter, S.C.
Finney earned a reputation as an outstanding defense lawyer and civil rights advocate and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1972. He subsequently was appointed a member of the House Judiciary Committee, making him the first African-American to serve on that committee. Finney was one of the founders of the Legislative Black Caucus and was quick to say of his career and accomplishments, he didn’t do it alone.
Finney noted the good will of South Carolina and used the resources that the State of South Carolina had made available to him. It was said that he pushed Brown vs. the Board of Education as far as it could go, not just in the area of education, but rights in private and public accommodations. He was especially proud of defending the Friendship 9 and being part of the Civil Rights movement in South Carolina
Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney, Jr and his wife Frances Davenport Finney were both interviewed as part of this program.
The program includes a reading by Nikky Finney of her poem, "He Never Had It Made," which Finney wrote about her father and read on the day Finney was sworn in.
Chief Justice Finney retired from the S.C. Supreme Court in 2000 and was named interim president of S.C. State University in 2002. He died on Dec. 3, 2017.
Nikky Finney, daughter of the late SC Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney, Jr., recites her poem, "He Never Had It Made" on the occasion of his installation to the S.C. Supreme Court.
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There are many well-known African American entertainers from South Carolina, who made history. Let’s find out about a few:
Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates worked as a child laborer in a cotton mill, where he lost his leg. This didn’t stop the Fountain Inn native from establishing a successful career as a tap dancer on Broadway. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show at least twenty-two times.
Dizzy Gillespie, a Cheraw native, taught himself how to play the trumpet at age 12. He recorded his first music album at age 20. His unique style played a key role in the rise of bebop and modern jazz.
Born in Orangeburg, Eartha Kitt had a tough time landing jobs due to her refusal to perform for segregated audiences. But she prevailed and went on to become well known for her song, “Santa Baby” and her role as Catwoman on TV’s Batman.
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KnowItAll Collections make it easy to find what you need!
Our African American History and Martin Luther King Collections contain numerous resources for African American History Month - and some you may not have imagined would be available here on KnowItAll.org!
View details below!
Historian Carter G. Woodson hoped to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization by establishing Negro History Week. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that included both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass' birthdays. The week was later expanded to a month in 1976 during the United States bicentennial.
You’ll be amazed at the variety of resources found in the Collection! Take a look!
The Briggs v. Elliott case began as a simple request to provide bus transportation. In addition to having separate and very inferior facilities, black children had to walk to school, sometimes many miles.
The Friendship Nine consisted of a group of nine African American young men who were sent to jail after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina in 1961.
The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race. Meet members of the NAACP who were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina.
Learn about noted African Americans, many born in South Carolina, with local and national accomplishments.
Approximately 150 protesters had demonstrated against racial segregation at the All-Star Bowling Alley on several occasions prior to the Orangeburg Massacre. On the evening of February 8, 1968, South Carolina State University (SCSU) students started a bonfire on the front of campus, which is located in Orangeburg, South Carolina. As police and firefighters attempted to put out the fire, officer David Shealy was injured by a thrown object. South Carolina Highway Patrol officers fired shots at the protestors.
Three of the protestors, African American males, were killed and twenty-eight other protesters were injured. The three men killed included two SCSU students Samuel Hammond (18), Henry Smith (18), and Delano Middleton (17), a student at the local Wilkinson High School.
At a press conference the following day, Governor Robert E. McNair said the event was "...one of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina."
Several generations of the St. Helena community attended the historic Penn School, established as one of the first schools for freed slaves. In the 1950s and 1960s, the site served as a safe retreat for those involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists used the quiet refuge to plan the March on Washington, an event that helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Penn Center now serves as a resource center for those studying and protecting Sea Island communities.
Learn about the economics and hardships of slavery in South Carolina.
This Collection honors the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and relays much of the history of the Civil Rights era.
Judge Matthew Perry, Jr. | Road Trip (Courthouse Dedication April 23, 2004)
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) – Road Trip Through S.C. Civil Rights History (Audio file and transcript are available on this page of KnowItAll.org- direct link is here.)
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Out of the Shadows | Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
- Read, Write, Paint and Sing...Celebrating the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King
Additional resources for February include:
This day celebrates freedom from slavery. View resources about slavery on KnowItAll here.
On February 1, 2003, sixteen minutes before it was scheduled to land, the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) broke apart over the skies of Texas. All seven crew members perished in the accident. Columbia is the second space shuttle lost in flight, the other being the shuttle Challenger.
Dr. LeConte Cathey, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of South Carolina, talks about the risks involved with space travel. ETV then sends a crew to interview people in the streets of Columbia, to get their thoughts and reflections on the 'Challenger' disaster. More on the 'Challenger' disaster is available here.
Choose from an abundance of videos on a wide array of professions right here on KnowItAll.org! Videos are organized by Career Cluster. Visit our Career Explorations Collection!
Find resources to encourage reading in our Libraries, Literature & Learning Collection!
Visit our Women in Leadership Collection, which includes these topics and others!
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An international day recognizing the need to promote social justice, which includes efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections. View the collection!
Visit our Factoids to see all of the resources that are relevant to each month's observances and dates to remember! Our February Factoids are here and our KnowItAll Factoids for the full year are here!
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Lesson plans for teachers that meet South Carolina standards.
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