As a component of its discussion series, “On Being A Citizen,” the I.P. Stanback Museum & Planetarium at South Carolina State University in tandem with The Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum will host a combined live event and book signing (held at the Cecil Williams Museum) as part of a simultaneous public Zoom conversation with Orangeburg native, academic and author Dr. June Manning Thomas. Thomas is the daughter of former Claflin College President Dr. H.V. Manning.

Thomas will discuss her recent book, “Struggling to Learn,” published in 2021 by the University of South Carolina Press.

A majority of the images provided in Thomas’ book have been provided by nationally recognized photographer, Cecil Williams, and are a significant component of the collections in the civil rights museum bearing his name.

The combined in-person and Zoom discussion will begin at noon Saturday, June 25 and will be part of a joint effort with the Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum, its partners The I. P. Stanback Museum & Planetarium, South Carolina State University, the Center for Civil Rights of the University of South Carolina, The South Carolina Progressive Network, The Skipp Pearson Foundation, and The Modjeska Simpkins School for Human Rights.

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This program will concentrate upon Thomas’ documentation of her experiences recorded in “Struggling to Learn,” where she reflects upon the educational gains made by Black South Carolinians during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras and how those gains were achieved.

A discussion of what fueled civil rights persistence and why it was sustained despite opposition and hostility from South Carolina’s white citizens at the time will be assessed.

In the final chapters, she explores the current state of education for Black children and young adults in South Carolina and discuss what has been learned and improved upon through this collective struggle.

Thomas’ book provides poignant personal narrative, supported by meticulous research, which retraces the history of the education of African Americans in South Carolina from the post-Civil War era to the present.

Focusing largely on events that took place in Orangeburg during the 1950s and 1960s, Thomas reveals how local leaders, educators, parents and the NAACP joined forces to improve the quality of education for Black children in the face of resistance from white South Carolinians.

Thomas’s experiences and the efforts of local activists offer relevant insight because Orangeburg was home to two Black colleges―South Carolina State University and Claflin University―that cultivated a community of highly educated and engaged Black citizens.

This program is free and available to the general public, sponsored by The Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum.

Thomas’ work, “Struggling to Learn,” will be available onsite for the in-person event.

In order to attend the discussion and book signing in-person, please contact Cecil Williams at 803-347-8001 or email

Participants for the online Zoom conversation must pre-register for this event and may contact Dr. Frank Martin, who will serve as program moderator, at

Register for the Zoom conversation in advance for this meeting at:

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