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“All for Civil Rights”

African-American Congressmen, Judges & Lawmakers in South Carolina, Compiled by W. Lewis Burke

Harold R. Boulware (1913–1983)

Harold R. Boulware (1913–1983)

A native of Irmo, Harold Boulware was educated at Harbison Agricultural Institute, Johnson C. Smith College and Howard Law School. At Howard he was trained as a civil rights lawyer by Thurgood Marshall and Charles Houston. Returning to South Carolina, Boulware passed the bar examination and was licensed in 1940. Soon he was Chief Counsel for the NAACP in the state and litigating civil rights cases. He brought suits on behalf of teachers, black voters, the families of lynching victims, and veterans. He represented a black applicant to the U.S.C. School of Law which resulted in the establishment of the law school at South Carolina State. His victories on behalf of voters and school teachers were the State’s first successful civil rights cases. His most significant case was Briggs v. Elliott. Boulware filed this case and served as local counsel in conjunction with Thurgood Marshall and Robert Carter. This case eventually became Brown v. Board of Education, the most celebrated civil rights case in American history.

In 1969 Boulware was appointed as an Associate Municipal Judge in Columbia. Also appointed a municipal judge that year was Richard Fields of Charleston. Consequently the two men became the first African Americans to serve as judges in the state since the 1890’s. In 1974 Boulware was elected as a family court judge for the Richland County Court. In the following year this position was legislatively transformed into the Family Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit and the General Assembly elected Boulware to the judgeship. At the same time, Fields was elevated to Family Court and the two men became the first men of their race elected to a judgeship by the South Carolina General Assembly since Reconstruction. Known for his fairness and sense of humor, Boulware served until his death on January 27, 1983.

  • Burke, W. Lewis and Lewis C. Hine. “The South Carolina State College Law School: Its Roots, Creation, and Legacy.” In Matthew J. Perry: The Man, His Times, and His Legacy, edited by W. Lewis Burke and Belinda F. Gergel, 17–60. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004.
  • Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.