Eddie Ganaway ’71 paved the way for diversity at the College of Charleston and changed the institution forever, when he walked across the Cistern as the first ever African American graduate of the College of Charleston. On Saturday, November 2, 2013, the College’s Diversity Education and Resource Center (DERC) will be dedicated to Ganaway in honor and celebration of his significant contributions to diversity and to the College of Charleston. The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 12 p.m. in Robert Scott Small Building (175 Calhoun Street). This will be followed by a reception.
The Eddie Ganaway Diversity Education and Resource Center opened in 2010, and has been devoted to promoting and advancing all-inclusive domestic and global diversity. Located in the Office of Institutional Diversity, on the second floor of Robert Scott Small Building, the Center offers students, faculty, and staff access to a wide range of books, journals, videos, recordings and global cultural artifacts that focus on racial, ethnic, social, cultural, religious, and forms of human diversity.
According to Dr. John Bello-Ogunu, Sr., associate vice president and chief diversity officer, “The College’s decision to dedicate the Center to Mr. Ganaway underscores its continuing strong commitment to promoting and improving diversity, access, equity, and inclusion throughout our campus community.”
Eddie Ganaway grew up in Charleston Heights and graduated from Bonds Wilson High School in 1962. After graduation he attended Benedict College in Columbia briefly, becoming the first member of his family to attend college. However, a lack of funds led him to enlist in the United States Navy where he served as a medic in Vietnam for four years. After his discharge and seeking to expand his horizons, Eddie considered attending the College of Charleston. After writing to the College, he made contact with Fred Daniels the Director of Admissions, who encouraged him to apply. Ganaway followed through and matriculated in January 1968. He developed special friendships with a number of faculty members who encouraged his efforts. Despite the relative isolation he experienced as one of the few black students on campus, Ganaway came to see the College experience as deeply enriching and rewarding. When he graduated in 1971, with a bachelor’s degree in history, he became the first African American to complete a degree at the College of Charleston.
He subsequently enrolled at Duke University where he earned a master’s degree in history and went on to teach at Illinois State University and South Carolina State University respectively. Over the years he maintained contact with the College and made many contributions to his alma mater. Eddie’s many contributions included but were not limited to the following: spoke to alumni groups; gave lectures at various special occasions, including Martin Luther King Day; participated in the January 2008 program, commemorating forty years of desegregation at the College of Charleston; and contributed financially to the College. Eddie was also one of the founding members of the newly created College of Charleston Black Alumni Caucus in 2012.
In recognition of his immeasurable contributions to the College, in December 2007, Eddie was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from his alma mater. The degree was presented to him by Dr. Ted Stern, who had been president of the College of Charleston when Eddie received his undergraduate degree. Eddie credited the College with awakening him to “this tremblingly wonderful sense of possibility we all have as human beings” and he encouraged students to step out boldly and faithfully with that knowledge. It was only befitting then that The Eddie Ganaway Distinguished Alumni Award was named in his honor.
Mr. Ganaway died on Sunday, January 13, 2013, but the College of Charleston family will always remember his life and strive to embody his legacy.