University of South Carolina Honors Its First Black Faculty Member

Recently the University of South Carolina unveiled a nine-foot statue of Richard T. Greener on campus. The bronze statue, located between the library and the student health center, honors the first Black faculty member at the university.

In 1870 Richard T. Greener became the first African American graduate of Harvard University. He taught high school in Philadelphia and Washington before joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1873, which for a brief period during Reconstruction admitted Black students. Greener also studied law at the university while teaching philosophy, Latin, and Greek. After Blacks were purged from the University of South Carolina at the end of Reconstruction, Greener worked at the U.S. Treasury Department and taught at the Howard University School of Law.

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock, a retired professor of education at the University of South Carolina, said that Greener “accomplished some worthwhile things at the university in the few years it was open during Reconstruction. He acquired scholarship money for poor students and established a preparatory program for freshmen. He even went to Howard University to recruit South Carolina students who had enrolled there, inviting them to return to their own state for a college education at the now-integrated university.”

Professor Chaddock is the author of a biography about Greener, Uncompromising Activist: Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).

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