Briggs v. ElliotT

Students and teachers at Scott’s Branch High School are using classroom and community projects to honor the legacy of local families who were important—and mostly unheralded—trailblazers in the American civil rights movement. 

In the late 1940s, Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers agreed to represent Harry and Eliza Briggs and 19 other courageous parents from Clarendon County in challenging poor conditions and limited opportunities in schools for local African-American children. Their case, Briggs v. Elliott, named for the lead plaintiffs and the local school superintendent, was one of five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court as part of Brown v. Board of Education. The high court’s 1954 ruling led to the racial integration of the nation’s public schools.  In his bold and vigorous dissent in a Briggs v. Elliott ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Waities Waring established the prevailing doctrine of separate but equal used in the Brown decision. He declared that segregation “must go and must go now. Segregation is per se inequality.” Briggs was a central part of the Brown arguments and ultimately, the ruling that changed our nation and the world forever.

Students at Scott’s Branch continue to connect to their heritage through deep and engaging projects, helping their community to reach another Turning Point. 


  View the documentation

+ References for Briggs v. Elliott & Brown v. Board

  • Brinson, Claudia Smith. "The Fires of Change That Would Sweep through the Nation's Schools Flarred in Rural Clarendon County in the late 1940s and '50s." The State (May 15, 1994), D1, 6.

  • Fogg, Tanya R. ""Slow to Change." The State (May 15, 1994), A1, 10.

  • Hornsby, Jr. Benjamin F. Stepping Stone to the Supreme Court: Clarendon County. Columbia, S.C.: S.C. Department of Archives and History, 1992.

  • Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.

  • "The State Paid Dearly for Segregation" In "A Retrospective Look at South Carolina: 1941-1966," The State (March 3, 1991), 26.

  • Robinson, Bill, "Civil rights pioneer Eliza Briggs Dies at 81." The State (September 17, 1998), A1, 18.

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