Modjeska Monteith Simkins, born in 1899, was one of the key figures of the civil rights and social reform movement in South Carolina. In her early years she worked in the field of public health, which led her to passionately fight to improve the overall health of African Americans in South Carolina. As a founding member of the state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), she was elected in 1941 to serve as Secretary, the only woman to serve as an officer at the time. Simkins also played a leading role in the Briggs v. Elliot case, which demanded equality among black and white schools in Clarendon County and became one of several cases to challenge the “separate but equal” doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education. In 1990, Simkins was awarded South Carolina’s highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto, in recognition of her devotion to social justice and racial equality.
The Modjeska Simkins Award for Civil Rights & Social Justice was established to honor the spirit of Modjeska Monteith Simkins, exhibited by her dedication to African-American public health reform, social reform and the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina. This award is meant to honor individuals who have dedicated their lives to the fight for Civil Rights and to recognize individuals who are committed to social justice.
In order to be considered for the award the candidate must:
- Engage in activism for social or civil rights that advance the cause of human rights for South Carolinians
- Empower others and encourage independence
- Demonstrate leadership, creativity, and integrity in the community
- Be from a political, public, or business arena
- Be born in South Carolina or have adopted South Carolina as his or her residing state for a period of time
- Be 18 years or older
All nominations must be submitted by February 29, 2016. Nominators are asked to include a brief one-page summary explaining why their candidate is being nominated for the award, supporting documentation for the candidate, and contact information.
The recipient of the award will be announced on April 9th during a two-day conference titled “Civil Rights: It Still Matters”, focusing on the right to fair and barrier-free housing. We are proud to be one of the organizations hosting this important event. In the weeks to come, we will have more information on the conference, which is open to the public and will offer CLE credit for attorneys.