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Veteran Journalist Donates Trove of Civil Rights-Era Research to University of South Carolina

COLUMBIA — He’s not a South Carolina native son, but Steve Crump’s life has been defined by some of the Palmetto State’s most consequential narratives.

The veteran journalist and filmmaker is donating a trove of research materials to the University of South Carolina, hoping the decades of work he’s done probing racism in the state will inform future generations of scholars.

“A broader sense of knowledge. A sense of empowerment and maybe a level of validation behind the voices in many regards that have been disenfranchised,” is what Crump told The Post and Courier he hopes comes out of the gesture.

Crump, 64 and a longtime reporter at WBTV in Charlotte, said contributing to the school’s archives was also a tribute to his wife Cathy, a USC graduate from Sumter. He spoke about the donation and his career on Feb. 16 with WIS anchor Judi Gatson during a virtual seminar hosted by USC’s Center for Civil Rights History and Research.

Included in the cache are interviews and film, which the center plans to use in “Justice for All,” a digital exhibit chronicling the state’s role in the American Civil Rights movement.

“Before you have reconciliation, you’ve got to have truth. And truth comes in the storytelling,” Crump said during the seminar. 

Born in Louisville, Ky., Crump attended Eastern Kentucky University and got his first job at WSAV in Savannah, Ga. That brought him into South Carolina’s Lowcountry for stories in communities such as Beaufort, Hardeeville and Hilton Head.

A filmmaker, as well, Crump in 2018 produced “Orangeburg: 50 Years Later,” a retrospective of the Feb. 8, 1968, confrontation at South Carolina State University where three Black men were killed by police after trying to integrate a bowling alley.

He’s also told the story of Sarah Mae Flemming, an Eastover woman who in June 1954 took the only empty seat on a Columbia bus as she headed to work. Challenged by the driver for sitting in the vehicle’s Whites only section, he punched Flemming and ordered her out the rear door.

Seventeen months later, a similar situation led Rosa Parks and civil rights organizers to create the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Read entire article at Columbia Post and Courier