M. Hayes Mizell Papers

South Caroliniana Library


A native of High Point, North Carolina, Hayes Mizell graduated with a degree in history from Wofford College in 1960. After enrolling at the University of South Carolina the same year, his attention turned quickly toward political activism. He participated in sit-ins with students from the historically black Benedict College in Columbia in 1961, was an active participant in the student chapter of the South Carolina Council on Human Relations, and helped organize the Student Committee to Observe Order and Peace—a group dedicated to the peaceful integration of USC. By 1964, Mizell had left USC to direct the National Student Association’s Southern Student Human Relations Project in Atlanta, thus beginning a career dedicated to social justice and equal rights for all.

Mizell next accepted an offer to become a Program Associate for the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) School Desegregation Task Force in Columbia, South Carolina in 1966. He would continue working for the AFSC for nearly twenty years, eventually rising to the position of Associate Director of the group’s Southeastern Public Education Program (SPEP). During these years Mizell’s efforts focused primarily on advocating for and monitoring the desegregation of South Carolina and the region’s public schools, but he also engaged in a broad range of other community-based activities to improve the quality of education for all students. He played a key role in garnering public and political support for the enactment of state school finance reform legislation and increasing citizen involvement in school governance.

In 1970 Mizell won a seat on the Board of School Commissioners of Richland County School District 1. As a vocal advocate of desegregation on the Board of School Commissioners, Mizell drew the ire of critics of desegregation. One of Mizell’s most severe detractors was Lower Richland High School football coach Mooney Player, who spearheaded an anti-desegregation, anti-Mizell movement called “Deadline ’72.” This movement sought to elect five conservative candidates to the school board to counteract Mizell’s supposed dominance over the board. Though the candidates supported by “Deadline ’72” were elected, Mizell continued to serve on the school board until 1974, when he lost a bid for reelection. After leaving SPEP in 1984, Mizell served as Coordinator of the State Employment Initiatives for Youth Demonstration Project in the Office of the South Carolina Governor and then as director of the Program for Disadvantaged Youth for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

Hayes Mizell possesses a commendable appreciation for the power of memory and history. As early as 1974, he began to donate his personal papers and those relating to his career to the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. Today his collection consists of over 165 linear feet of personal papers, speeches, writings, topical files, audio/visual materials, and ephemera.

To date, this digital collection, which will continue to grow, consists chiefly of reports relating to implementation of school desegregation that were sent to Mizell in his role with the AFSC, his own speeches and writings, and photographs.

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