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1963-2013: Desegregation—Integration
James H. Hollins



James Hollins, a Mississippi native, entered military service at the age of 18, in 1945, as a “Montford Point Marine,” the first group of African Americans to desegregate the United States Marine Corps. In 1963, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island and, stemming from an invitation issued by the USC Beaufort Extension Campus to the Parris Island facility, applied for admission to college. Hollins took entrance examinations and was accepted as a student for courses at the Beaufort campus.

While Hollins had previously enrolled in post-secondary correspondence classes, the USC Beaufort Extension Campus offered the first opportunity to register in a traditional, on-site course.


Dr. Nicholas P. Mitchell, Director of the USC Extension Division

In recognition of the registration of Anderson, Monteith, and Solomon in Columbia on September 11th and in anticipation of the national media coverage that would and did result, Dr. Nicholas P. Mitchell, Director of the USC Extension Division based in Columbia, informed Dr. John J. Duffy, Director of the USC Beaufort Extension Campus, to delay Hollins' registration until after the desegregation event in Columbia.

Beaufort Gazette, September 12, 1963

 

On September 12, 1963, James Hollins met with Dr. Duffy and enrolled in two undergraduate courses in English and mathematics with classes beginning on Monday, September 16th. No public reaction or commotion from students ensued during Hollins’ registration, Dr. Duffy recently recalled. During the next few weeks, Duffy monitored the campus in case of any unrest. He remembered no negative responses from teachers, students, or the community.

During Hollins’ initial days at the USC Beaufort Extension Campus, he was joined by six of his fellow Marines. These (white) soldiers walked the classroom halls ready to assist and support their comrade.

The Museum of Education looks forward to a new narrative that will arise from James Hollins' University of South Carolina story and his efforts to receive an education for which he had been previously denied due to his race. While the university and community reaction in Beaufort was calm in September 1963, as was the case in Columbia, one must not overlook the struggle and hardship that many individuals endured to participate and engage in the desegregation of schools.

 

James Hollins attended the USC Beaufort Extension Campus for one semester before being transferred to a Marine Corps base in Albany, GA. He would subsequently complete two master’s degrees in accounting and business administration and, after military service, start an accounting firm which he ran for 30 years in Joliet, IL.

When asked about his arrival at the Beaufort campus, in recognition of the anticipated tensions at USC Columbia on September 11, 1963, Staff Sergeant Hollins said that September 12th was “just another day in the life of a Marine.” Hollins would state that he felt welcomed by the faculty and students at the USC Beaufort campus.

   


Even after fighting for my country in two wars,
the fight for my education was the fight of my life.
James Hollins


 
             

 

     
       
                     

 


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