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Orangeburg’s post office could soon be named after the late businessman and civic leader Julius Irwin Washington III.

The U.S. House has approved legislation designating the U.S. Postal Service building located at 1550 Middleton Street as the “J.I. Washington Post Office Building.” The U.S. Senate has to also approve the name.

“I am very pleased today that the House passed my legislation to name the hometown post office in honor of an important leader in Orangeburg County and the state of South Carolina,” 6th District Congressman James E. Clyburn said in a release.

“I knew J.I. from the time I was a student at South Carolina State in Orangeburg, and while he preferred to be one who worked behind the scenes, everyone knew he was the one you went to when you wanted to get things done. Throughout the rest of his life, he served as a mentor to me and a trusted advisor. This post office naming will ensure his legacy will not be forgotten,” Clyburn said.

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An Orangeburg native, Washington was the owner of Washington Poultry Farm.

He served on the Santee Cooper Board of Directors and on the South Carolina State College Board of Trustees.

Known throughout the community as “J.I.,” Washington was a significant force in local and state politics. He was deeply committed to voting rights, and broke barriers as the first African American to serve on the Orangeburg County Voter Registration Board, the release said.

He was also a veteran of World War II, having served with the 351st Field Artillery Battalion in the European Theater.

At a Democratic Party event honoring him in 1978, Washington was praised for his “fairness, willingness to work and to lead and his courage and determination” in registering voters in the county.

Washington died in 1986 at the age of 64.

A Times and Democrat editorial following his death called Washington, “the person most responsible for moving Blacks into the political mainstream of Orangeburg County, although through his 64 years of life he never offered himself as a political candidate.”

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