Discover South Carolina sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Journey to Freedom

Journey to Freedom

Discover significant South Carolina sites along the United States Civil Rights Trail

By Heather Wuelpern  •  Illustration by Fezlab

More than 100 locations in 14 states are preserved along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Among the vital sites in South Carolina, explore places of worship, protest and education that preserve the true stories that changed history.


Springfield Baptist Church

As well as being the oldest black Baptist church in Greenville, dating back to 1867, Springfield Baptist was also headquarters of nonviolent civil rights protests in the 1960s. One notable protest occurred when Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League Baseball player, was not allowed to sit in a Greenville airport waiting room.

Rock Hill

McCrory’s Five & Dine

In 1960, African-American students from Friendship Junior College refused to leave the lunch counter at McCrory’s Five & Dine when they were denied service. It was among the first of many sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement. The slogan painted in the window reads “History in the Tasting.”


Benjamin E. Mays House Museum

Tour the birthplace of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, former Baptist minister, Morehouse College president, mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., author and civil rights pioneer. His childhood home offers a glimpse of his life in the early 1900s as a son of sharecroppers as well as the legacy he left behind.


African-American History Monument

This monument, a first of its kind on any of the nation’s state house grounds, presents the history of African-Americans in the United States and their contributions to the state of South Carolina.


Modjeska Monteith Simkins House

Modjeska Monteith Simkins, considered the matriarch of South Carolina’s civil and human rights movement, lived in this home from 1932 until her death in 1992. She hosted meetings in her home for civil rights leaders and NAACP lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall during the Brown v. Board of Education trial.


Historic Liberty Hill AME Church

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that desegregated public schools was influenced by the meetings that were held at this church in the 1940s and 1950s. The dissenting opinion influenced the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.


Orangeburg Massacre

Three black South Carolina State College students lost their lives in 1968 when police fired into a segregation protest over repeated disputes at All Star Bowling Lanes. Trinity United Methodist Church subsequently held civil rights meetings called the Orangeburg Movement. There are statues of the three students in the South Carolina State College Historic District.


Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

This church, founded in 1816, was tormented by raids, witnessed executions and was ultimately burned to the ground. The church was rebuilt after the Civil War, but tragedy visited again. A memorial honors nine church members who were shot in the church in 2015.

St. Helena Island

Penn Center

After the Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863, Penn Center was the first school for former slaves to learn to read, write and master trades in order to integrate into the free world. In the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement, the center was often used as a meeting place for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

South Carolina offers many more ways to Satisfy Your Thirst.