Scott’s Branch High School (1951-1994) is a building with national significance due to its association with the United States Supreme Court case, Briggs v. Elliott, part of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation of public education was unconstitutional. This decision overturned the prior ruling of “separate but equal” in the 1896 decision, Plessy v. Ferguson.
Scott’s Branch High School was the segregated, black school in Summerton, South Carolina, and its condition was the basis of the Briggs lawsuit, argued by the NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall. In the course of the lawsuit, South Carolina state officials and Clarendon County education officials sought to prevent court-ordered integration of schools by “equalizing” Scott’s Branch High School and elementary schools. The “equalization” program sought to construct new African American elementary and high school buildings that used modern school design, materials, and architecture. Equalization buildings like Scott’s Branch High School were one-Story, flat roofed structures. Their “window-walls,” meant to help with ventilation and allow an abundance of light into each classroom, created a distinctive architecture that represents South Carolina’s resistance to integration.
Renovations on Scott’s Branch High School began in 1951 and were finished by September 1952. It remained the public high school of the current Clarendon County school district one, but it remained functionally segregated due to white flight to private schools. The African American community of Clarendon County was pivotal in beginning the legal fight of desegregating schools in 1947 and they continued that fight through 1970.Scott’s Branch High School remained the public middle and high school for the Clarendon 1 school district until 1994, when the district built a new building on U.S. 301. The former high school became an elementary school for a time, and is presently a community resource building owned by the Clarendon 1 school district.
This photo gallery features the following:
- Scott's Branch High School sign
- South Carolina Historical Marker located outside of the school
- Exterior views of Scott's Branch High School
- Glimpses down the hallways
- A look into a classroom
- Scott's Branch High School's Gymanisum