COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former Florence One Schools Superintendent Allie Brooks Jr. will be among the people honored in the 2021 South Carolina African American History Calendar.
The South Carolina Department of Education and statewide partners unveiled the calendar and the list of 12 honorees last week.
Four of the 12 honorees have a connection to the Pee Dee: Brooks, Sherman James, Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge L. Casey Manning Sr. and state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter.
The Fifth Judicial Circuit includes Richland and Kershaw counties.
Brooks will be featured in the month of January.
He said that someone felt he was worthy to be nominated was a very humbling experience.
"To God Be The Glory," Brooks said via email. "I can think of many other men and women that I know that have made significant accomplishments that have had a major impact upon the lives and circumstances of others. I look at this honor as an opportunity to represent those individuals as well as the many who have had a positive influence upon my life from my birth to the present. It is to each of them that I accept this honor."
He is a native of Florence. Brooks graduated from South Carolina State University and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army in 1968. He received a master's degree from the University of South Carolina in 1974 and an education specialist degree in 2014. Brooks also completed the Institute on the Principal and School Improvement in 1987 at Harvard University. He received an honorary degree from Francis Marion University in 2005.
Brooks retired in 2005 having served in Florence One for more than 35 years as a teacher, principal − he spent many years at Wilson High School − and district superintendent. Brooks served as superintendent of Florence One Schools from 2010 to June 2014.
James, a native of Hartsville, will be featured in May. He was the first African American to be elected president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, the largest professional society of epidemiologists in North America.
Manning will be featured in July. He is a native of Dillon and the first African American to receive a scholarship to play basketball at the University of South Carolina. Manning was also a part-time instructor at Florence-Darlington Technical College in 1980 and practiced law in Dillon County from 1979-1983. Manning serves as the color commentator for Gamecock basketball radio broadcasts.
Cobb-Hunter will be featured in February. She is the first African American woman from Orangeburg County to serve in the South Carolina House of Representatives. She received an honorary doctorate from Francis Marion University.
Other honorees are Charleston natives Bernard and Herbert Fielding, Cordesville native Rosa Franklin, Willis and Clara Langley, Dixiana native Amy Surginer Northrop, Little Rock native Gloria Blackwell Rackley, Bowman native Nathan Spells Sr., Fork Shoals native A.J. Whittenberg and Greenville native Dorris Wright.
"This year’s calendar honorees’ have demonstrated lifelong commitments to improving the lives of their fellow Americans and South Carolinians" State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said. "With each page, you will be reminded of the tremendous legacies they have left to inspire future generations."
The 2021 African American History Calendar features the Jenkins Institute, located in Charleston, on its cover. The Jenkins Institute, founded in 1891, was formerly known as the “Jenkins Orphanage.” What started as a simple act of kindness from a husband and wife taking in four orphans would eventually turn into a musical empire that has inspired some of the country's most famous African American talents.
Now in its thirty second year, the twelve month calendar was first created to help bolster the state's K-12 African American history curriculum. Each year the calendar profiles individuals who have had positive, compelling impacts on South Carolina and, often, our entire nation.
The biographies and timeline of important dates printed in the calendar are also preserved online and thanks to accompanying lesson plans, are used by educators from across the state in classroom instruction. Over the past three decades, the project has developed into a virtual hall of fame and attracts attention from around the nation.
Calendars are printed and distributed free of charge to schools, faith based organizations, community centers, and the general public to shine a light on South Carolina's African American history.
In addition to the South Carolina Department of Education, the sponsors who make the calendar possible include AT&T, Dominion Energy, South Carolina ETV, the University of South Carolina, and WIS-TV.
The 2021 calendar is free and available for pre-order at scafricanamerican.com/calendar-request/. Requests made will be fulfilled in mid-November.
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