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South Carolina - Columbia: Modjeska Simkins Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Modjeska Simkins in Columbia, South Carolina. She talks about the history of Charleston during succession. She talks about her family history. Her grandmother was named Dobbins. She was a former slave. After she was freed at thirteen, the master of the house she worked at, a man named Walter Monteith, fathered a child with her. Her father received his last name. The white Monteiths always recognized their black kin. She traces her family in Columbia back to her great-grandmother. She talks about the layout of the city, which has changed over the years. The old black community was in Liberty Hill. She talks about the history of conflict in the area. There was a small race riot in the area following the First World War. She compares Columbia and Charleston. She says there was more racial conflict in Charleston. Columbia organized their first branch of the NAACP in 1909. The president was A.J. Collins. Simkins was brought up with civil rights, and her mother introduced her children to the Niagara Movement. She talks about the guns her father and others had to protect themselves against whites. Her father was a builder and her brother was a surgeon. Simkins attended NAACP meetings with her mother at Second Calvary Church as a child. Zion Baptist Church was later home to the civil rights movement in Columbia. J.P. Reeder was pastor. First Calvary and the AME Church were also strong. She discusses other churches in the area. She gives her impressions of Charleston. She explains the caste system that exists there among blacks, based on skin color. Even the churches were divided. She talks about her experience teaching summer school for teachers in Charleston. In various groups, she was either the lightest or the darkest person at the gathering. She talks about the division she witnessed between the groups. Even Columbia has some division in this area. St. Luke's Episcopal Church has a light-skinned congregation. Simkins talks about the variance in skin and hair color among the black community in Columbia, and the fact that she notices skin tones becoming darker. Dent asks her to compare the civil rights movements of North Carolina and South Carolina. She compares North Carolina to a northern state. There were lynchings in South Carolina every week. She worked for the South Carolina Tuberculosis Committee. She talks about cooking molasses and sour belly, also called fatback.
Civil rights demonstrations
Dent, Thomas C.
Simkins, Modjeska Monteith, 1899-1992
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 149, Item 3, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.