New Exhibit – “Graphic” Opinions: South Carolina Political Cartoons

Editorial cartoons grace the pages (or webpages) of many American daily newspapers and are widely popular with readers. Their subject matter ranges from local to international matters, and the cartoons often provide biting commentary. As the famous cartoonist Herbert Block said, the editorial cartoonist is “the kid who points out that the Emperor is without his clothes.” However, this art is in decline; the Herb Block Foundation has said that, in 1900, there were approximately 2,000 editorial cartoonists employed. Today the number is closer to 25.

South Carolina Political Collections holds original artwork and papers from two editorial artists: Walt Lardner and Kate Salley Palmer. Walt Lardner was a cartoonist for a variety of magazines and The State newspaper from the 1960s to his retirement in 1988. Kate Salley Palmer started cartooning for the Daily Gamecock newspaper while at the University of South Carolina and later became the Greenville News‘ dedicated cartoonist before eventually starting a children’s book publishing business, Warbranch Press.

The work of these two fine South Carolina editorial artists is now on display as part of the exhibit “Graphic” Opinions: South Carolina Political Cartoons, in the South Carolina Political Collections Gallery from August 29th, 2019 to January 20th, 2020.

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Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learners show an intense drive to understand their world and all the myriad elements that impact on their lives and their society.  Their character is, at least in part, defined by a deep and innate curiosity.  I have been inspired by several lifelong learners – Fritz Hollings, Sarah Leverette and Warren Irvin.

The Hollings reference collection

Even as a senior U.S. Senator, with the incredibly busy schedule that position entailed, Hollings made time for serious reading.  He began each day, often while being driven to his office in Washington’s Russell Senate Office Building, with a variety of newspapers.  He ended each day with books on topics that interested him.  I well remember one Christmas in the late 1990s when I asked what he was reading over his holiday.  He had three books – two on contemporary Mexican-American affairs and one book on world finance.  Time has proven that he was prescient in his concern over our relationship with Mexico.

Hollings viewed travel as a remarkable opportunity to learn about foreign cultures.  On his return from a Codel or other trip, Sen. Hollings would share what he had seen and offer his impressions about the people he had met and the conditions under which they lived.  And his travel often informed his votes and legislation he was writing.

In retirement, and particularly in his last months, Senator Hollings continued to read as a way to enrich himself.  Thanks to the generosity of the Hollings family, a small selection from his vast library is now available in the Dorothy Smith Reading Room.  About forty volumes include a favorite he reread during his final months – a biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt – and the book I intend to read soon, The Statesman and the Storyteller: John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism.

On your next visit to the Reading Room, perhaps, like me, you will be inspired to read a book enjoyed by the Senator.

By Herb Hartsook

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In Memoriam: Martha Cunningham Monteith (1921-2019)

Martha MonteithMartha Cunningham Monteith passed away Saturday, July 27, 2019. A pioneer in speech pathology, she was the first trained speech therapist employed by the South Carolina public school system, establishing the inaugural program at Richland County District One in 1949. Over the years, she worked to secure state funding for speech and hearing services for all public schools in South Carolina. She also helped establish the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at both SC State University (c. 1954-1962) and University of South Carolina (1966).

Mrs. Monteith also actively participated in much of the work of her husband, Dr. Henry D. Monteith, a well-known local physician and community leader. She promoted the many services offered by the Victory Savings Bank within the community during its leadership by Dr. Monteith from 1945-1980. She also helped him with his medical home visits and served with him on the board for the Palmetto Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association Women’s Auxiliary.

Mrs. Monteith did great work for her community as an activist and later as a benefactor. She participated in the Civil Rights Movement by working on influential projects including the successful integration of the University of South Carolina in 1963 by her niece, Dr. Henrie Monteith Treadwell. She also worked to preserve sites of historical and educational significance, including her sister-in-law Modjeska Monteith Simkins’ home and the Monteith School (now Booker T. Washington – Monteith Cultural Center). Both sites have been placed on the National Historic Registry. As a member of the Benefactors Society of the Richland County Public Library Trust, she donated the Cunningham-Monteith Large Picture Center at the Richland County Public Library. In 2005, she participated in an oral history interview with the library wherein she discusses her time teaching for Richland School District One, life in Columbia during segregation, and the history of the Monteith School.

Martha MonteithMrs. Monteith became a supporter of USC’s Special Collections upon the donation of  the papers of her sister-in-law, Modjeska Simkins, to SCPC, which now is also receiving the papers of her niece, Henrie Monteith Treadwell, and most recently Mrs. Monteith’s own papers. Upon retirement, she spent her time travelling the world with Dr. Treadwell. A devoted singer, Mrs. Monteith was often hired to sing at weddings and other events during her time in college, and actively participated in her church group as a vocalist in the Women’s Missionary Society. She was also an avid hat collector, as evidenced by her participation in the Turner Memorial A.M.E. Hat Divas group.

Her papers consist of about 1 linear foot of material from 1938 to 2016, all of which is digitized and can be viewed here. Mrs. Monteith will be greatly missed. We send our regards to her family during this time.

written by Chauna Carr

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National History Day 101 Workshop, August 9th

National History Day (NHD) is a year-long themed research project competition for 6th-12th grade students across the U.S. and beyond that culminates in an international competition (“Nationals”) held every year at the University of Maryland, College Park, each June.

Students canNHD 2020 compete solo or in groups and in the categories of papers, websites, documentaries, exhibits, and performances on any topic in history as long as they connect it to the yearly theme. Past entries have had titles such as “Uneducated: The G.I. Bill in the Segregated South,” “Taking a Stand Against Child Labor: The National Child Labor Committee,” and “’Only a Novel?’: Jane Austen’s Innovations for the Romantic Novel.”

For students who create projects (regardless of if they compete), learn and strengthen their analytic, research, writing, speaking, and time-management skills. It can lead to scholarships as it did for me, or simply a lifelong passion for history.

South Carolina Political Collections will be hosting a teacher workshop, “National History Day 101,” on Friday August 9th from 9 to noon. This workshop will include information about History Day, sample projects, tips and tricks for creating the best entry, list of topics that could use University of South Carolina Special Collections, and a discussion of other resources U of SC has to help students create their strongest project.

Anyone interested in learning more about National History Day or those who already work with NHD students are welcome to attend the free workshop. Please RSVP to Ann Abney at aabney@mailbox.sc.edu by July 30th to reserve your spot.

NHD 101 Workshop

 

 

 

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Eulogy for Fritz Hollings by Dr. Michael Copps

Michael Copps

Dr. Michael J. Copps

Senator Hollings’ funeral in April included eulogies from a number of family members, colleagues, and friends.  Among the heartfelt tributes to the Senator’s life and career was one given by Dr. Michael Copps, who worked on Hollings’ staff from 1970 to 1985 as a researcher and executive assistant, ultimately becoming his Administrative Assistant.  As a representative of the “Hollings Office Family,” he spoke movingly of the Senator’s dedication to mastering the details of a wide range of issues and to providing his constituents with his very best efforts.  Dr. Copps has generously shared the text of his remarks at the funeral, below.

Video of the service is available on YouTube.  On the SCPC website, you can also find an oral history interview that Herb Hartsook did with Copps in 1996.  A longer remembrance of Hollings was shared by Copps here.

_______________________________________

FRITZ HOLLINGS EULOGY

Hollings Family, Distinguished Guests, Friends of Fritz:

I am here today representing the Hollings Office Family—the scores of people whose lives were profoundly and forever changed by the extraordinary privilege we had to work alongside this great South Carolina statesman.

None of us had ever met anyone like Fritz Hollings—nor will we ever again. That quick wit—the quickest I ever encountered; that habit of command that I think he was born with—charisma on steroids I call it; and that capacity he had for reacting instantaneously to the fast-changing world of policy and politics. It was a combination of understanding in the brain and a feeling in the gut that allowed him to cut to the root of a matter at just about warp speed.

I went to work for him in 1970, fresh from the groves of academe, but I never had an education like Fritz gave me, for 15 years on his staff and throughout the nearly 50 years I knew him. It made me, as it made so many of us on the Hollings Team, different and better persons. How I remember those first months when, after a television speech by the President, I’d go into the office next morning and Fritz would ask: “What did you think of that speech last night?” I would proceed to give him my very skewed ivory tower analysis; he would patiently listen, because Fritz always listened, carefully; and then it was reality check time as Fritz would say, “Oh, no, no, no, that’s not what that speech was all about,” and he would proceed to tell me in real world terms what it really was all about. He used to say that running for and serving in the Senate was the best postgraduate course imaginable. Working for him was the next best. We were all the beneficiaries of that.

The press has been filled with many a Hollings witticism these past ten days. “The ox is in the ditch” he would say when the country had a major problem. “There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.” “A man convinced against his will is a man of the same opinion still.” “On your way through life makes this your goal: keep your eye on the doughnut and not the hole.” His quotes could fill a book.

But Fritz was a serious man engaged in serious business. He tackled his job with total immersion and uncommon commitment. Before he voted he dug deeply into every issue. His expertise on the economy, the budget, trade, defense, foreign policy, education, energy, telecommunications, oceans and the environment, health and cancer research, and creating opportunity for all, and it led to an unparalleled record of accomplishment. It also brought him great respect. When people in Washington would ask who we worked for and we told them it was Fritz Hollings, they often looked envious and would tell us how fortunate we were to work with him. Another trait that I admired so much, being a former educator, was that he believed elected officials had a solemn obligation to go to Washington to learn and to share with their constituents what they learned from their experience—not with a short press statement, but in detail—sometimes more detail than may have been necessary, but those fact-filled speeches and the newsletters he sent around the state look pretty darned good compared to the sound-bite statements and reality-show politics so prevalent today. Even when some didn’t agree with his position on an issue, they understood they were being treated as mature citizens, and they respected his candor. Straight talk was the language Fritz spoke.

Hollings

Fritz and Peatsy Hollings

The Hollings Office Family believed in loyalty. We were loyal to him and he was loyal to us. If we messed something up—and that happened once or twice—he would let us know, with that voice booming even more than usual, sometimes accompanied by a little redness in the face, and some very colorful language to boot. But that was the end of it, and he never took his complaints outside the office. Learning loyalty was another part of the education he gave us.

Peatsy was part of our education, too—a huge part. We can’t remember Fritz without remembering her. People met Peatsy and people loved Peatsy on the spot. She was the best adviser and best friend-maker he ever had. And she shared with the office staff enormous common sense and steadying calm in even the most difficult times. Fritz and Peatsy were each bright shining stars in their own right; together they were absolutely dazzling. Easing the pain we feel today is knowing they are together again.

We really were a family. We cared for each other. We worried about one another. And we had fun together. We went to their house, they came to ours. The Senator and Peatsy came to the hospital the night our first child, Bobby, was born. Bobby had a crop of thick dark hair. Fritz took one look at him and said, “Copps had a hippie.” Another time, we accompanied the Hollings to a formal ball; a lady there was wearing a rather revealing strapless gown that she made for the occasion. Peatsy said “Look, Fritz, Janet made that dress herself.” “When is she going to finish it?,” he asked.

I loved Fritz Hollings. He was the most impressive man I ever met. He lives on in me and those I speak for today with a presence that his passing cannot extinguish. I’ll be seeing Fritz and getting advice and inspiration from him for the rest of my life. Today we mourn, of course, but we also celebrate. How can we do anything but celebrate such a memorable life and such a good man? And how can we do anything but celebrate our good fortunes—yours and mine—for having been a part of that life?

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Politics and the Movies

city hall posterPolitics can be dramatic, and the movie industry has long acknowledged that.  To help introduce the Hollings Library to our public when we opened in 2010, we began a series of twelve politically themed movies presented over the course of two years.  This included a screening of City Hall.  The film stared John Cusack and Al Pacino and featured a cameo by our own Fritz Hollings as a U.S. Senator.  The producers felt that Hollings was the epitome of all a U.S. Senator should be — tall, white-haired, decisive, and possessed of a booming voice.

We introduced each film by linking it in some way to our collections.  This was great fun and it was surprising how readily we were able to connect the subject matter of each movie to our holdings.  The series was successful in drawing folks into our new home but was discontinued due to the drain the evening event presented to our small staff.

mr smith posterThere is no end to the list of films that make important statements on the political process.  These range from light comedy to documentaries and from high art to parody.  Our slate consisted of: City Hall, 1996; The Congress, 1989, a superb Ken Burns documentary; All The King’s Men, 2006, with Sean Penn starring in this Robert Penn Warren story; Advise and Consent, 1962, starring Henry Fonda; All The President’s Men, 1976, recounting the Watergate investigation; Can Mr. Smith Get To Washington Anymore, 2006, a wonderful documentary on a grassroots Missouri congressional campaign; the classic Jimmy Stewart film, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 1939; Boogie Man, 2008, a documentary recounting the life story of South Carolina’s Lee Atwater; Good Night, and Good Luck, 2005, the George Clooney film on journalist Edward R. Murrow; Point of Order, 1964, a documentary presenting a selection of the 187 hours of testimony taken during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings; and the Eddie Murphy comedy, The Distinguished Gentleman, 1992.

distinguished gentleman posterCritic Roger Ebert gave The Distinguished Gentleman only two stars: “I would be tempted to say, The Distinguished Gentleman paints a jaundiced view of lobbyists and bribery in Washington, if the latest headlines didn’t make the movie seem almost soft on payola.”  I found that it shared many similarities to the Academy Award nominated Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  Both stories center on neophyte politicians dealing with the pressures of service in Congress following the deaths of long-serving and well-loved members.  Mr. Smith had a strong and immediate impact and has achieved cult status.  The Distinguished Gentleman did not have that same impact, but the comedy still raises important issues, chiefly about the opportunities for graft and the importance of campaign fund raising.  These mirror themes raised in the earlier Capra movie and real-life concerns.

In one of its funniest scenes, Murphy visits the widow of the congressman whom he hopes to succeed.  In the guise of a professor at “Wilson Pickett State College,” he seeks the husband’s papers and ephemera for the college library.  Murphy intends to use the dead member’s campaign materials — posters, bumper stickers and buttons, in his own, successful, campaign.

There is a lot more to like in The Distinguished Gentleman.  Murphy is assigned a terrible office because he neglected to attend the office selection event (often broadcast live on C-SPAN).  There are, in real life, terrible congressional offices.  The office buildings are over-crowded, and I’ll never forget my first trip to Senator Hollings’ attic storage space, a cage in the Russell Senate Office Building.  To get to Hollings’ cage, I passed spaces that had been repurposed to house congressional staff.  Nice lighting and oriental rugs did nothing to counter the fact that the attic is generally dimly lit, poorly heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, and mainly provides space for non-active files which the senators are not yet ready to give up.  I recently watched The Distinguished Gentleman again and was pleased at how well the movie holds up.

Please email me at Herb@sc.edu and tell us about your favorite political movie!

By Herb Hartsook

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Fritz Hollings Remembered (Part 1 of 2)

Fritz Hollings’ decision in 1989 to entrust his papers to U of SC Libraries had a major impact.  We knew the collection would become the largest manuscript collection ever received at U of SC.  It would require a major commitment but also provide an opportunity.  Our vision was to use his decision as a springboard with our goal – the creation of a major research repository documenting all aspects of contemporary life, politics, and government.  Senator Hollings bought into that plan and actively helped make our goal a reality.

Fritz Hollings

Governor Fritz Hollings, 1960

Oral history became an important component of our Hollings Papers Project.  Over a period of years, Senator Hollings made time to sit down with us and record over thirty hours reflecting on his life.  Typical of his active nature, he tired of delving into the distant past, and we soon came to an agreement to equally divide our sessions into discussion of the past and comments on current activities and interests.  This made for exciting sessions.  We look forward to making the interviews accessible.

We also interviewed key staff, who were almost uniformly bright, capable, and loyal.  Many staffers stayed with the Senator for twenty and more years and remarkably, during his long tenure in the Senate, he was served by just six chiefs of staff and two state directors.

Martha Payne first worked for Hollings when he was governor.  She took a leave of absence from her secretarial position to help in his 1962 campaign challenging long-time incumbent U.S. Senator Olin D. Johnston.  On the eve of the Democratic primary, the media considered the race “too close to call.”  Once the votes were counted, they learned the race hadn’t been close at all.  Johnston out-polled Hollings by a margin of two to one.

Olin D Johnston

Senator Olin D. Johnston

The defeat provided Hollings with a favorite story – the tale of his concession.  Once the outcome became clear, Hollings walked to the Johnston victory celebration being held at the Wade Hampton Hotel in downtown Columbia.  There, he found Johnston at the podium thanking all the folks who had made his victory possible, “Thanks to the postal workers, they were a big, big help.”  Seeing Hollings enter the room, he quickly added, “And thanks to Fritz too, he was a big, big help.”  In telling the story, Hollings mimicked perfectly Johnston’s deep voice.  He always ended by commenting that he had never before realized Johnston had such a good sense of humor.

I never think of that story without thinking of Martha Payne.  In our interview, Mrs. Payne (1922-2014), a quiet thoughtful lady, spoke of her deep and lifelong admiration for Hollings.  When he announced his intention to challenge Johnston, she naturally assumed the voters would be as enamored of the vigorous change agent as she was.  She never entertained the idea that Johnston might prevail.  On tape, she had noted that most of the campaign staff followed Hollings on his walk to the Wade Hampton Hotel.  Unfortunately, her most memorable comment wasn’t recorded.  We continued talking while I packed up my equipment, and Mrs. Payne went back to that night and recalled that she had to hold on to Hollings’ coat sleeve while walking to the hotel.  She was crying so hard she literally couldn’t see where she was going.

Each oral history interview provides rich insights into our political history and the people who serve or work in government.  We want to acknowledge the generosity and sense of history each narrator has shown in their willingness to openly share their life stories and their valuable reflections.

~ By Herb Hartsook

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Welcome, Ann Abney!

Ann Abney

Ann Abney

I’m Ann Abney and I’ve recently joined SCPC as the Special Projects Archivist. I came from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland. I’ve got my MA in History and my MLS in Archives, Records, and Information Management from the University of Maryland. I’ve worked, interned, or volunteered at a variety of archives including the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History and the National Library of Wales (where I learned a lot about rugby and almost nothing about cricket).

I’ll be splitting my time between processing collections, creating exhibits, and promoting the use of SCPC collections through outreach. I’m excited to start diving into those collections to help everyone from school-age kids to undergraduates to professional researchers know what amazing things we have and the power of archives. Archives can be intimidating, but I want to make sure everyone can learn more about history in a personal way. It is one thing for a high school student to read about the Civil Rights era in South Carolina, and it is another for them to touch and see records written by the decision makers and those affected. Archives help history truly come to life!

If you are interested in learning more about our collections or archives in general, you can reach me at aabney@mailbox.sc.edu or scpc@mailbox.sc.edu.

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by Herb Hartsook

Ernest Hollings

Senator Hollings circa 1980

We are all mourning the passing of Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings.  He was a giant among our political elite, but more important to me, he was an inspiration.  I was blessed to get the opportunity to work with Senator Hollings as his archivist.  I personally conducted over 25 hours of his oral history interviews with South Carolina Political Collections.  I traveled with him.  I shared gourmet meals in the kitchen of his Isle of Palms home which had been prepared by his lovely wife Peatsy.  Over our association of more than 30 years, I got to know, admire, and love Fritz Hollings.

People often ask, ‘What’s Fritz like?’  I enjoy sharing my impressions.  Curiosity was Fritz Hollings’ most dominant trait.  He was great fun as a traveling companion.  His omnipresent briefcase always held an assortment of daily newspapers and while we were in the car or on the plane, he would read and talk about the major news stories, often adding anecdotes from his personal knowledge of the persons and issues involved.  He loved travel because of the wonderful learning opportunities travel presented.

Ernest Hollings

Hollings as governor

He was a voracious reader and ended each day with some reading.  I imagine he might have read some fiction, but when I asked, he was usually reading serious works on the economy, foreign policy and history.  When I visited him last, he had a pile of books beside his chair and was enjoying a weighty biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

He had a near photographic memory.  His staff had to be careful when providing him with statistics because he remembered whatever number they originally gave him, even if later they realized they’d made a mistake and tried to correct it.

He was athletic and an avid tennis fan.  And heaven help you if you seemed to be gaining weight because he would needle you to encourage better habits.

Hollings

Hollings was athletic and loved the ocean

Politics provided a perfect career but wasn’t his initial goal.  He trained to be an attorney and could have enjoyed a great career as a trial attorney.  And if you listened to him debate, he certainly thought like an attorney.  But, as a young lawyer trying to jump start his career after losing years to active duty service during World War II, Hollings ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives.  He hoped to build name recognition through his campaign effort to promote his law practice, but he won the race.

Once in government, he discovered that he liked the work and the opportunity to lead.  During his fifty years of public service, he became an avid student of government.  His second and last book, Making Government Work, outlined his vision of the steps needed to improve our government.  Many, myself included, had urged him write a memoir and share the many delightful anecdotes that peppered his conversations.  He included a few such stories, but he really wanted to share his recipe for better government.  That was Fritz; he was in the game to do things, not to acquire power, or become famous, or to become rich.

Hollings

Hollings on one of his “hunger tours,” c. 1969

Fritz Hollings became expert on issues as diverse as the MX Missile, the federal budget, and nutrition.  Throughout his career, he focused on the pragmatic, what government could do, both in the short and the long terms, to make life better for the citizenry.  As an example, he often said that it’s better to feed the child than imprison the adult.  This led to the nation’s WIC program, a supplemental nutrition program aimed at ensuring the birth and early development of healthy children who would be able to grow up to become contributing members of society.

On announcing his gift of his papers to the University of South Carolina, Hollings said that he wanted his collection to serve as a research tool but also to become the catalyst for the creation of a center for the study of modern society.  He was convinced that the UofSC was most likely to develop such a center due to its ability and willingness to support such an endeavor; its central location in the state; and its proximity to related resources including the South Caroliniana Library, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, and the S.C. State Library.  Then-Dean of Libraries George Terry shared that view and we have fulfilled that initial vision.  Hollings also helped in recruiting two very important donors — Jim Edwards and John West.  Both gentlemen eventually became important supporters of SCPC.  Indeed, Hollings and Edwards spoke at our groundbreaking and the SCPC Director’s office is named in honor of West.

Hollings always came across as a man on a mission and in a hurry.  He wasn’t outwardly a ‘warm and fuzzy’ man, but he did care deeply about family, friends, and staff.  When I suffered my heart attack, Fritz called my wife and counseled her on concerns she would face on my return home.  That was typical.  I have referred to Hollings as “Fritz” throughout this post, since that is how most folks know him.

I always addressed Hollings as ‘Senator.’  But in my head, and often in conversations with others that knew him well, I often referred to him as ‘Boss,’ as did many senior Hollings staff.  I never felt comfortable calling him ‘Boss’ in our interactions, but many did, and that appellation fit.  Fritz Hollings was a great man, a wonderful inspiration, and became my good friend.  I mourn his passing.

Herb Hartsook with Senator and Mrs. Hollings

 

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Governor John West, Poverty, and the ‘Privy Project.’

Hollings

Senator Fritz Hollings on one of his ‘Hunger Tours”

South Carolina is characterized by great beauty and culture.  It also has areas of abject poverty.  Its leaders have long worked to improve standards of living across the state, chiefly through recruiting industry and innovative educational programing.  SCPC donors Fritz Hollings and John West did all that but also worked assiduously to address hunger and poverty.  West recalled in his oral history interview for SCPC that Hollings’ famous Hunger Tours of 1968 and 1969 brought public recognition to a problem that most people preferred to ignore or to sweep under the rug.  You know, people, particularly those who are reasonably affluent, don’t want to even imagine that there are people in our society, and close by, who don’t have enough to eat.  And so they just don’t look at it, don’t recognize it.

John West

Governor John West

Governor West (1971-1975) took his first ‘Poverty Tour’ shortly after taking office.  It was facilitated by his young staffer Jim Clyburn.  Clyburn and Hollings accompanied West to McColl and Charleston to view firsthand the often-wretched housing in which South Carolina’s poorest lived.  Later, in his 1972 State of the State address, West called for action to help families living in substandard housing – and there were some 200,000 such units.

He conducted multiple tours over the course of his administration to inform his concern over the poor and the disadvantaged, and he acted to address their needs.  One legacy of his leadership is the creation of two state agencies to address poverty and discrimination – the State Housing Authority and the Human Affairs Commission.  Another was his ‘Privy Project.’  West showed humor but also pride in speaking about the modular bathroom that could simply and economically provide indoor plumbing for the many dwellings across South Carolina that still lacked this amenity.  Some of his staff referred to the project as, “John’s Johns.”   The self-contained unit contained a bathtub, toilet, lavatory, hot water heater and overhead heater.  It could be added to any structurally sound home and simply required a hole to be cut to create a doorway, and some simple plumbing and electrical work.  In April 1973, West testified before a U. S. Senate committee studying the impact of President Richard Nixon’s housing moratorium.  He told the committee that the states should take more responsibility for the housing needs of the poor and the federal government should help.  He boasted of the “snap-on” bathrooms which cost only $1,000 and helped cure one of the worst problems – the lack of indoor plumbing.

cartoon

A Walt Lardner cartoon depicting West and Hollings on their poverty tours

West also used his ‘Reports’ to the people, published in newspapers across the state, to publicize the needs of the poor.  He once wrote, “I reject the seemingly popular opinion that ignorance, illiteracy and poverty are conditions indigenous to any single race of people.”

It takes real leadership to take on hard problems and Hollings and West revealed their heart and intelligence in their efforts to help our most needy citizens.

~ contributed by Herb Hartsook

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