USC honors first African American with building name on Columbia campus
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The first African American is honored with a building name at the University of South Carolina (USC) Columbia campus, according to the university.
The residential hall, at 700 Lincoln Street in Columbia, is named after the pioneering educator and civil rights advocate Celia Dial Saxon.
USC provided this statement on the dedication:
Born in Columbia in 1857, Saxon (born Celia Emma Dial) spent her life working to provide educational and financial resources for African Americans in South Carolina and to advance the rights of women and girls. During Reconstruction, Saxon became one of the first African American students to attend the South Carolina State Normal School, which was established by the General Assembly in 1873 and opened on the University of South Carolina campus in 1874.
Although she worked under the burden of the Jim Crow era, her commitment to equality, justice and hard work enabled her to excel as an educator. Over her 57-year career, Saxon taught at Booker T. Washington High School, Benedict College and South Carolina A&M College and influenced generations of Black students.
Saxon also was active in the national Women’s Club Movement and was involved in numerous organizations such as the Palmetto State Teachers’ Association, the South Carolina Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. As a member of the State Federation of Negro Women’s Clubs, Saxon was one of the founders of the Fairwold Industrial School for Negro Girls in and the Wilkinson Orphanage for Negro Children in South Carolina’s Midlands.
The renaming of the residence hall is part of ongoing efforts by the university to place its history in context.
Later this year, the university expects to unveil a monument of the three students — Robert G. Anderson, Henrie Monteith Treadwell, and James L. Solomon Jr. — who desegregated the university on September 11, 1963.
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