In 1951, South Carolina politicians knew that their racially segregated public school system did not meet the constitutional standard of “separate but equal.” Facing a lawsuit, South Carolina passed its first sales tax to fund new school buildings for Black children, which became known as "equalization schools." The state's goal was to preserve racial segregation in schools. However, like one-room schoolhouses and Rosenwald schools of the early twentieth century, equalization schools were notable spaces of Black culture and community, making the buildings contradictory symbols that represent both racism in the United States and the strength of Black communities. The story of equalization schools is a critical, though lesser-known, part of South Carolina history. This exhibit explores South Carolina's equalization school history and includes an interactive map that documents the state's equalization school buildings. Published April 2022.
Rebekah Dobrasko, Public Historian and Historic Preservationist, Texas Department of Transportation