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Black History in Pickens County

Part 2 of a 3-part series Race Relations: Pickens schools saw peaceful integration here


See Part 1 of this series by clicking this link


Friendship Bapt Church Bible School 1968



Vacation Bible School in 1968 with members of both Friendship Baptist with Rev. Dargan, center, and the Jasper First Baptist with Rev. Charles Walker, at right.


By Bill Cagle, Thelma Cagle, Karen Benson, Lynette Bridges, Justin Davis, Andrea Johnson


A letter from Frances Keppel, US Commissioner of Education, dated July 19, 1965 was received by M. T. McMurrain, superintendent of the Pickens County Board of Education, informing him that the most recent submittal of a proposal for desegregation of Pickens County schools had been approved. With Pickens County schools set to open in a month, there was little time to prepare for integration.

The proposal allowed the Black students and teachers to voluntarily integrate in 1965. Tri-City School, the school for Black students located in Smoky Hollow (currently Head Start), would remain open for one more year. In 1966, Tri-City would close, and all schools in the county would be integrated. 

Read more: Part 2 of a 3-part series Race Relations: Pickens schools saw peaceful integration here

Part 1 of a 3-part series Race Relations: Remembering the past, shaping the future


Bottom Row:  Karen Benson, Lynette Bridges; Middle row:  Bill Cagle,    Kathy Thompson; Top Row: Thelma (Bay) Cagle, Justin Davis


By Bill Cagle, Thelma Cagle, Karen Benson, Lynette Bridges, Justin Davis, Andrea Johnson


On June 7, 2020, a Black Lives Matter protest to raise awareness about racial inequality was held on Main Street in Jasper. Protesters chanted “black lives matter,” “no peace/no justice,” “I can’t breathe” and waved signs reading “stop apartheid in the USA,” “reinstate Kaepernick,” and “it could be my kids.” Speakers using a megaphone faced a large gathering of supporters on the courthouse lawn. Some spoke of their experiences as a black person living in a predominantly white community. Some shared experiences their relatives had handed down about segregation practices in Pickens County prior to 1966. Others declared their support for their black friends and expressed contrition for their white privilege.  

Read more: Part 1 of a 3-part series Race Relations: Remembering the past, shaping the future