Desegregation at the College of Charleston

Exhibit Splash Image

Discussion Questions

These discussion questions were created for students and educators to prompt discussion and further thought about the College of Charleston's role in the history of desegregation and education in the South.

1. What were some aspects of the exhibit that you found particularly interesting, surprising, or revelatory? Why?

2. What role did enslaved labor, the profits from slavery, and the system of slavery itself play in shaping the first century of the College of Charleston’s history?

3. Why did Black students want to apply to the College of Charleston and challenge the system of segregation? What did they want to access through admission to the College of Charleston?

4. Why do you think President Grice and other administrators and trustees chose to put the College of Charleston in a financially precarious position in order to maintain segregation? What does their decision reveal about white supremacy?

5. What is the distinction between “desegregation” and “integration”?

6. What value did Black students and faculty bring to the College of Charleston after desegregation? What did the College of Charleston lose for the nearly 200 years that Black students and faculty were excluded from the institution?

7. In the summer of 2023, the Supreme Court effectively ended college admissions offices’ ability to use affirmative action programs. How does this twenty-first-century Supreme Court decision connect to the mid-twentieth-century choices made by the College of Charleston?

8. Why is it important for current students to understand the history of desegregation at the College of Charleston?

9. What new questions has the exhibit raised for you?

10. How is the College of Charleston’s desegregation history different and/or similar from the K-12 Charleston County public school desegregation story in Somebody Had to Do It: First Children in School Desegregation? Or your local school district’s desegregation history?