Sue Frances Meriwether Steed

May 4, 1946 - Present

Sue Frances Meriwether SteedSue Frances Meriwether Steed ’67 was the first African-American student to earn a degree at Winthrop. She transferred to Winthrop in the fall of 1964 from Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University (now Tennessee State University). Steed credits her father, the late Wilhelm Meriwether, with enrolling her at Winthrop, where she roomed with Delores Johnson Hurt ’68 and the late Arnetta Gladden Mackey ’67. Steed’s brother, Wilhelm Delano Meriwether, was the first African-American student accepted into Duke University School of Medicine.

Steed earned a B.A. in biology at Winthrop and intended to pursue a degree in physical therapy. However, after graduation she took a job as a Head Start program assistant teacher in Lancaster and then began teaching at Laing High School in Mount Pleasant, which led to a 39-year teaching career. She earned a M.A.T. degree in biology from The Citadel in 1975 and received further post graduate training from the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern University.

She retired in 2006 from Wando High School and worked part-time with Kaleidoscope, an afterschool program provided by the Charleston County School District, before retiring again in 2017. She continues to volunteer and is an active member of Calvary Episcopal Church, Charleston, S.C.

The Lowcountry area native, who helped Laing Middle School students adjust to integration during the late 1960s, said she’s grateful to have played a part in Winthrop’s integration, which she called an “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“This was a time when life changed for a nation – a nation undergoing serious growing pains and adjustment pains. I’m honored that I was a part of that,” said Steed. She added that she looks at the experience as “an adventure that caused me to focus on the fact that people are people regardless of what color their skin is.”

In 2017, Steed, along with her fellow trailblazers, were bestowed the Winthrop Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes a Winthrop alumna/us who significantly contributes to the quality of life in his or her community, the development of values and morals within others and serves as an outstanding citizen. In 2021, the four were also recognized by the S.C. House of Representatives with a resolution praising their efforts during school integration at Winthrop University.