EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next four weeks, News13 will celebrate Black History Month through a series of stories highlighting the accomplishments of black people and educating audiences about the struggles and triumphs faced by African-Americans. Americans have faced it for centuries.

LAKE CITY, SC (WBTW) – Named after George Washington Carver, a black man born into slavery who became a world-renowned agricultural chemist and humanitarian, Carver High School in Lake City became one of the first state schools to integrate .

But although Brown v. Board of Education of 1954 determined that racial segregation in public schools violated the 14th Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional, compulsory integration did not occur in school until the early 1970s.

“You know what it’s like when you bring people together,” Lake City Mayor Lovith Anderson Jr. said. “That’s life, and everyone has their little chalk lines they want. sometimes plot. But for the most part we didn’t have many problems like other places.

In 1950, South Carolina passed a $75,000 bond to equalize schools. But it would take years — even decades — for some schools to finally embrace desegregation.

Carver High School was originally known as Lake City Colored Elementary and High School on Graham Road. It housed the first through 10th grades, but ultimately the building could not support the population. Secondary pupils moved to the new secondary school and primary pupils took over Carver Elementary School on Graham Road.

Anderson was part of the first integrated class of 1971. He said it wasn’t until the school was integrated that he realized many of his teachers were working with limited resources.

“Intellectually, they were fine,” Anderson said. “Sometimes there were other things that came with the lessons. They would take money out of their own pockets.

Gloria Tisdale, president of the Carver High School Alumni Association, graduated in 1969. Tisdale said that when she attended Carver, students had the choice of attending an integrated school.

“People said it was separate but not equal…we didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “All we knew, we were in school and we were getting an education.”

And at that time, Tisdale believed that schooling was effective.

“Well, that particular moment is what I knew,” Tisdale said. “I didn’t know anything different. But later, as an adult after coming out, I realized that you know the upbringing is not the same. But at that time, I thought we were getting what we needed.

Nonetheless, many Carver High School graduates went on to become prominent local and state leaders, educators, doctors, and ministers.

One of its most notable alumni is NASA astronaut and physicist Ronald McNair, who died during the launch of the Challenger mission in 1986. He graduated valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967.

The Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life Center on Main Street, where he was not allowed to borrow books, now bears his name.

In 2006, alumni Rufus Timmons and John Gaston established the Carver High School Alumni Association.

“We wanted Carver to not be forgotten, and it was a way for us to stay in touch with our classmates and be positive in the community,” Tisdale said.

The group’s mission is to give back to the community through scholarships for seniors, turkey drives, and donation drives for the Boys and Girls Club.

“We wanted to continue that legacy, so we will always be remembered,” Tisdale said.

If you are interested in joining the Carver High School Alumni Association or would like to donate to the cause, click here.