This Black History Month, the College of Charleston is celebrating the contributions and achievements of its African American students, faculty, staff and alumni and their impact on the College – and there are many. In fact, every day during the month of February, a new Black individual or contribution to the College is highlighted on screens across campus.
The Office of Institutional Diversity initiative aims not just to educate the campus community about the formative history of African Americans at the College of Charleston, but to recognize their lasting impact on the College and their community.
Below are 10 facts about the African American trailblazers and institutions that have made not just Black history, but College of Charleston history over the years.
10. The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture collects, preserves and promotes the unique history and culture of the African diaspora. The 125 Bull Street school was founded in 1865 as the Avery Normal Institute, which was Charleston’s first accredited secondary school for African Americans. The Avery is now a part of the College of Charleston.
9. The first Black tenure-track professor to join CofC was Owilender K. Grant. She became a faculty member in fall 1972 and taught in the Department of Mathematics.
8. Remus Harper ’72 played CofC basketball under coach Fred Daniels and was the first Black student-athlete. He graduated with a degree in business administration.
7. Kameelah Martin joined the College in 2017 as the director of the African American Studies Program and went on to be named the dean of CofC’s Graduate School in 2021, making her the first Black female academic dean.
6. Political science major Jasmine Twitty ’10 is one of America’s youngest judges. At 25 years old, she was sworn in as an associate judge of the municipal court in Easley, South Carolina.
5. Kieron Van Wyk is CofC’s first Black golfer and the first Black golfer in the Colonial Athletic Association to win individual medalist honors. He led the CofC men’s team to victory at the 2022 CAA Championship tournament.
4. In 1972, Lucille S. Whipper came to the College to direct its Head Start program and develop diversity programs. She was CofC’s first Black administrator. She later became the first Black woman from Charleston County to be elected to the S.C. Statehouse.
Septima Clark birthplace placard sits at 105 Wentworth Street.
3. Civil rights leader Septima Poinsette Clark, known as Mother of the Movement, was born at 105 Wentworth Street, which is now part of the CofC campus. In 2018, CofC teaching fellows raised money to dedicate a historical marker in front of her birthplace.
2. Debra Gammons ’87 was the first Black female Student Government Association president. The English major served on several College of Charleston boards.
1. Eddie Ganaway ’71 was the first Black graduate of the College. He enrolled in 1967 as one of CofC’s first Black students.
Eddie Ganaway ’71