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In 1867, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Thomas and Margaret Briggs gave four acres of land to Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal Church. The present edifice was designed and built by Peter De Laine circa 1903 under the pastorate of his brother, Rev. H.C. De Laine. During the 1950s, many civil rights meetings were held at this church.
The 1896 "Separate But Equal" doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson was challenged by the Harry Briggs, Jr., et al. v. R. W. Elliott, Chairman, et al. desegregation lawsuit. The school bus transportation case of Levi Pearson v. Clarendon County Board of Education (withdrawn in 1948) preceded this case in 1947.
Sixteen members of this congregation were among the twenty plaintiffs in the Briggs v. Elliott desegregation lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Charleston, in 1951. Rev. Joseph Armstrong De Laine, an AME minister pastoring in Clarendon County, is credited with the leadership role that made this lawsuit a reality. Although his father was a pastor at Liberty Hill and it was his family's home church, Rev. J.A. De Laine was never a pastor there.
The Briggs v. Elliott case was one of five cases included in the US Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas decision of May 17, 1954.
Plaintiff Names (Church Membership)
- Harry Briggs, St Mark AME Church
- Rebecca Richburg, Taw Caw Baptist
- Robert Georgia, Taw Caw Baptist
- Gabriel Tindal, Taw Caw Baptist
- Gilbert Henry, Elizabeth Baptist
- Mose Oliver, Liberty Hill
- Edward Ragin, Liberty Hill
- Lucrisher Richardson, Liberty Hill
- James Bennett, Liberty Hill
- Willie Stukes, Liberty Hill
- Fredrick Oliver, Liberty Hill
- Hazel Ragin, Liberty Hill
- Anniew Gibson, Liberty Hill
- Bennie Parson, Liberty Hill
- William Ragin, Liberty Hill
- Lee Richardson, Liberty Hill
- Mary Oliver, Liberty Hill
- Susan Lawson, Liberty Hill
- Onetha Bennett, Liberty Hill
- Henry Scott, Liberty Hill