Project Showcase: South Carolina’s Equalization Schools
23 November 2012 – editors
In the 1950s, South Carolina embarked on a massive statewide building spree in an effort to provide “separate but equal” schools for its African American and white students. Hundreds of new elementary and high schools in the Modern style sprung up across the state. Over time, the history of this building program and the schools it produced became only a footnote in history. I was lucky to “discover” this history during my master’s in public history program at the University of South Carolina. Early research into what I call “equalization schools” led to a survey of existing schools in Charleston County and a master’s thesis on the school construction program.
I decided to use digital media to publish my thesis and a few years after graduation, I began a website to spread the history of the equalization school program and to serve as an archive of all the known equalization schools in South Carolina. The project took off. People sent me information about the schools they attended, or equalization schools in their communities. Newspapers wrote stories about the program. A local high school history teacher found the site and began crossing the state to photograph equalization schools. A student at Furman University used the information on the site to create a “historical episode” for The History Engine.
Using the input of the visitors to the site and local volunteers, we have recorded over 130 equalization schools for the South Carolina Statewide Survey of Historic Resources. The Charleston County School District is planning a local exhibit on equalization schools to open in the near future. Find us on Flickr, too!
~ Rebekah Dobrasko