The Greater Columbia Community Relations Council was formed in 1964 to calm racial tensions in the Midlands (born out of the “Committee of 50,” a biracial advisory group designed to promote interracial understanding and ease the transition towards an integrated society). Learn more about a few of our founders below.
Lester Bates, Founder
Mayor of Columbia. Born in the Hell Hole Swamp area of Berkeley County on September 7, 1904. Bates was elected to Columbia City Council in 1944 and served there for eight years. In 1958 he was elected mayor of Columbia. He was reelected without opposition in 1962 and 1966. Columbia experienced a period of rapid growth during the Bates years. For many, however, the richest legacy of the Bates years is his role in the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. As many cities across the region were facing violent reactions to desegregation, Bates was determined that Columbia would integrate peacefully. To that end, he assembled committees of black and white community leaders, with whom he first met separately, to discuss how best to avoid violence. The committees then merged and orchestrated the peaceful desegregation of Columbia’s lunch counters in 1962, two years before the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This group became the forerunner of the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council. Bates died in Columbia on February 24, 1988, and was buried in the Eccles United Methodist Churchyard in Moncks Corner. The Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, descended from his original desegregation committees, presented its first Distinguished Service Award to him posthumously in 1994.
Dr. Thomas F. Jones, Founder
One of the longest-serving presidents at the University of South Carolina, Thomas Jones oversaw a period of tremendous growth at the university. Jones became president in 1962. When he left in 1974, enrollment had more than tripled and 29 new buildings had been added to the campus. Jones also oversaw the desegregation of the university and dealt with the student activism of the 1970s. Dr. Jones died on July 14, 1981.
Hyman Rubin, Sr., Founder
Hyman S. Rubin, a former civil rights activist and South Carolina senator was born January 21, 1913 in Charleston South Carolina. Rubin was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1966 and served until 1984. The Charleston native also served on the Columbia City Council. Senator Rubin was also a stalwart activist and leader in the civil rights movement and was at the forefront of racial and religious integration in the 1960’s. During this time he was a founder of the Columbia Community Relations Council and the Luncheon Club of Columbia, which was established solely for bi-racial social interaction and which has continued to thrive and is a model for similar groups around the State. Senator Rubin’s life and public service were characterized by integrity, wisdom, and kindness, and throughout his life he pursued his passion for justice for all people through the furtherance of diversity, interracial and religious harmony, fellowship, and goodwill. He was an exemplary role model, a true statesman, advocate, and leader, and he and his love for and commitment to the Columbia community and the State of South Carolina. He died on December 18, 2005.
Dr. I. DeQuincey Newman, Founder
The Reverend Isaiah DeQuincey Newman earned his place in the pages of South Carolina history books on November 8, 1983, when he became the first African-American to be elected to the South Carolina Senate since Reconstruction. He was the first black to serve in the state senate since 1887. Rev. Newman stood out as a soft-spoken civil rights activist during the 1960s and 1970s. He served as field director of the South Carolina conference of branches of the NAACP for ten years. He also founded and directed the Society for the Preservation of Black History, Art and Folklore. He was born in Darlington County on April 17, 1911, a son of the Rev. and Mrs. Milton C. Newman. As a youngster, he earned money by shining shoes on street corners and in shops. He attended the public schools of Williamsburg County and attended Claflin College in Orangeburg. In 1934, he earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Clark College in Atlanta. Three years later, he earned a divinity degree form Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta and was ordained a minister. Rev. Newman founded two churches in Columbia, the Francis Burns United Methodist Church and the Middleton-Rosemont United Methodist Church. In addition to his church work, Newman also served the state in other ways. He was assistant to the commissioner of the state Department of Social Services and a board, member of the Department of Health and Environmental Control. He also chaired the Governor’s Council on Rural Development. He was a Republican for many years and was named an alternate delegate to the 1956 Republican National Convention. In the 1960s he, like many other blacks, switched to the Democratic Party. He served as delegate to the Democratic Conventions of 1968, 1972, and 1980. Following his election to the SC Senate, he was a member of the Rules, Agricultural, Corrections, and Fish, Game and Forestry Committees. Newman retired in 1985 for health reasons and died two years later.
Milton Kimpson, First Executive Director
Dr. Milton Kimpson was born in 1931. He is a man of many talents and has worn many hats as a public servant in South Carolina. He was the first Executive Director of the Community Relations Council. He is a native of Calhoun County near St. Matthews, South Carolina. He holds degrees from Benedict College and the University of Wisconsin. He has also studied at Syracuse University, the University of Miami, and the University of Georgia during 1979-1985. He has been a member of the Benedict College Board of Trustees for more than 23 years. In his position as Executive Assistant for Education, Health and Human Services to the former Governor of the State of South Carolina, Richard W. Riley, he advised the Governor on some of the most complicated and challenging issues facing the state of South Carolina. Among his many honors and awards, Kimpson has received the Order of the Palmetto from the Governor of South Carolina; Colonel of the Staff award from the Governor of Mississippi; Arkansas Traveler award from the Governor of Arkansas; Man of the Year award, NAACP; Manning Branch, Distinguished Service Award, South Carolina State College; Public Servant of the Year award, South Carolina Association of Minorities for Public Administration; and the Friend of Education Award, South Carolina Education Association. Mr. Kimpson is married to Wilhelmina Page Kimpson and they have three sons. Kimpson and his family are members of St. John Baptist Church in Columbia.