- South Carolina State University: A Black Land-Grant College in Jim Crow America by William C. Hine
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played and continue to play a vital role in American higher education. The collective contribution of HBCU faculty, students, and administrators have helped transform the country's social, political, and economic landscapes. William C. Hine, with his book South Carolina State University: A Black Land-Grant College in Jim Crow America, joins a small but growing number of scholars who have chronicled the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of these institutions. "Designated a land-grant institution under the terms of the 1862 and 1890 Morrill Acts, [what is now South Carolina State University] was for seven decades the state's only public institution of higher education open to black people," Hine writes. "But during its first thirty years it functioned primarily as a secondary school that offered vocational training in agricultural and mechanical subjects and prepared teachers for the black public schools" (p. xv). Like other HBCUs during the Jim Crow era, South Carolina State suffered from insufficient financial support, low faculty salaries, and inadequate facilities, including classrooms, dormitories, and agricultural facilities.
Despite some of the aforementioned maladies, "[b]y the late 1920s, S.C. State had evolved into a full-fledged college that awarded bachelor's degrees" (p. xvii). This feat notwithstanding, the institution was still called the Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina. During the era of Jim Crow white supremacy, black leaders lacked the political [End Page 477] power and influence to change the status quo at the institution. In the early years, the students, faculty, and administrators did not openly challenge the powers that be. Rather, they cherished their institution, highlighted and praised the contributions of African Americans, and celebrated their heritage. Things began to change, however, with the advent of the modern civil rights movement. By the 1950s and 1960s, the students had become active participants in the struggle to bring about an end to the Jim Crow system. Consequently, the school's faculty and board of trustees became integrated. Also, South Carolina State became fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1960. Some vocational programs were terminated, giving way to new courses of study, such as computer science, speech and hearing audiology, and music merchandising.
This well-written monograph shows meticulous research. It integrates education, race, class, activism, and politics, and it fuses local study relevant to regional and national politics while identifying the unique local context. In a word, it captures the school's role in the African American struggle for education in the Jim Crow South and its success in graduating its students, many of whom are outstanding alumni. This book is well organized. Hine has done exhaustive research, and his endnotes are often as interesting as the text itself. The author makes excellent use of campus publications, manuscript collections, oral interviews, and a number of other primary and secondary sources, as reflected in the sixty-seven pages of notes and bibliography. This book is recommended for a popular, as well as an academic, audience. Hine's book is a refreshing read and will add a great degree to our understanding of historically black colleges and universities in general and South Carolina State University in particular.