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USC commemorates first Black student in Reconstruction era

a group of people stand in front of a historical marker commemorating the enrollment of the first Black student at USC during reconstruction

The University of South Carolina will commemorate Reconstruction and the 150th anniversary of the first Black student — Henry E. Hayne — who enrolled in the university in 1873. Hayne later served in the state Senate and as a South Carolina secretary of state.

Background: Reconstruction (1865-77) was a period of transition from slavery to freedom and citizenship for nearly 4 million African Americans and for rebuilding the nation after the Civil War.

Why it matters:

  • Oct. 7, 1873, marks the historic date of the first time a Black student would enroll at the university. The university fully integrated during the Reconstruction Era, with Black students becoming a majority during much of that era. The university closed in June 1877 and reopened in 1880 for whites only.
  • It would be 90 years after Hayne's historic enrollment when three African American students again ended segregation at USC when Henrie Monteith Treadwell, Robert G. Anderson and James L. Solomon Jr. enrolled in 1963.

What's happening Saturday (Oct. 7):

  • 2 p.m. — Viewing of Radical Carolina, an eight-minute documentary by filmmaker Betsy Newman followed by a student and alumni panel discussing the meaning of the Reconstruction Era and its legacy. This event, organized by the Association of African American Students, will also feature musical numbers by A Touch of Faith Gospel Choir. Location: Rutledge Chapel on the Horseshoe.
  • 3 p.m. — Reception with food at DeSaussure College, the location of the first medical school at USC from 1867-1873 and where Hayne enrolled as a medical student. DeSaussure also housed Black students during Reconstruction.