Winthrop University: African-American Trailblazers at Winthrop Honored by SC General Assembly
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African-American Trailblazers at Winthrop Honored by SC General Assembly

March 02, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cynthia Plair Roddey ’67, Delores Johnson Hurt ’68, the late Arnetta Gladden Mackey ’67 and Sue Frances Meriwether Steed ’67 quietly integrated the Winthrop campus more than 55 years ago. 
  • The ladies were presented with Winthrop’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2017.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – The S.C. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Feb. 18 praising the efforts of four African-American women who were trailblazers during school integration at Winthrop University. 

S.C. Rep. Kambrell Garvin ’13 (D-Columbia) spearheaded the effort. He was joined on March 1 by S.C. Rep. John King (D-Rock Hill) in presenting the women and their family members with a framed resolution during a short ceremony at Winthrop. 

The resolution also was sponsored by fellow Winthrop alumni S.C. Rep. Gary Simrill ’91 (R-Rock Hill); S.C. Rep. Chandra Dillard '87 (D-Greenville); S.C. Rep. Brandon Newton ’19 (R-Lancaster); and S.C. Rep. Chip Huggins ’87 (R-Lexington).

Cynthia Plair Roddey ’67, Delores Johnson Hurt ’68, the late Arnetta Gladden Mackey ’67 and Sue Frances Meriwether Steed ’67 quietly integrated the Winthrop campus more than 55 years ago. After graduation, the women held distinguished careers as a librarian, journalist/business owner/educator, chemist and teacher.

Garvin said the women may not have been aware in college that they would be role models for future Winthrop alumni. “These ladies were courageous during the civil rights era in helping bring change and equity to all South Carolina citizens,” Garvin said. “They took advantage of the chance to further their education and made all of us proud in what they accomplished. Not only did they stand out in their fields, but also in the content of their character.”

The ladies were presented with Winthrop’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2017.

Winthrop Interim President George Hynd said the four women persevered in getting their education and, in doing so, etched their names into Winthrop history. “Today's diverse Winthrop student body looks incredibly different than it did in the 1960s and 1970s. Our students have these four women to thank who paved the way for other students of color to have the same opportunities of attaining a Winthrop education,” Hynd said. 

He also noted that it is fitting that legislators adopted this resolution during Black History Month and the resolutions were presented to the recipients on the first day of Women's History Month. “What a wonderful way to honor their contributions that opened limitless possibilities for all of the Winthrop students that follow in their footsteps,” Hynd said.

In 2014 to honor the 50th anniversary of Winthrop’s integration in 1964, Winthrop established the Roddey, Johnson, Gladden, Meriwether Endowed Scholarship fund to honor the women. The endowed fund, which is now at $33,000, provides Winthrop scholarships to South Carolina residents who have financial need, with first preference given to minority students.

For more information about the four women, watch a video entitled "Fulfilling the Promise" that Winthrop produced for the integration anniversary.

For more information about the scholarship fund, please contact University Advancement at 803/323-2275.

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Last Updated: 10/4/21