Joseph DeLaine

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Reverend Joseph Armstrong DeLaine (1898-1974) was a Methodist minister & civil rights leader from Clarendon County, South Carolina. He received a B.A. from Allen University in 1931, working as a laborer & running a dry cleaning business to pay for his education. DeLaine worked with Modjeska Simkins & the South Carolina NAACP on the case Briggs v. Elliott, which became one of the five cases argued under Brown v. Board of Education.

Playwright Loften Mitchell wrote a play based on DeLaine's story titled Land Beyond the River (1963).

Actor Ossie Davis also wrote a short play, The People of Clarendon County, which starred himself, his wife, Ruby Dee, & Sidney Poitier. You can read about it & one of the important cases predating Brown v. Board of Education, in which Rev. DeLaine played a very important role, in Alice Bernstein's illustrated book with the same title (2007 - ISBN 0883782871).

Briggs v. Elliott, 342 U.S. 350 (1952), was the first of the five cases later combined into Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the famous case in which the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned racial segregation in U.S. public schools. Briggs v. Elliott challenged segregation in Summerton, South Carolina. As a result, Rev. DeLaine's home was burned down, as was the church of which he was the pastor & he was forced to leave South Carolina, & never to return before his death, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for returning gunfire when his parsonage later came under hostile gunfire. He fled first to New York City & then to Buffalo, New York where he founded another Methodist church. As a result of efforts begun in 1955, Rev. DeLaine was eventually pardoned, in 2000, by the South Carolina State Parole Board.

As Rev. DeLaine had also memorably taught school in South Carolina, in addition to being a pastor of his own AME church, he was inducted, in 2006, into South Carolina's Educational Hall of Honor at the University of South Carolina.

Rev. DeLaine & 3 other plaintiffs in the case were posthumously awarded Congressional gold medals in 2004 for their courage & persistence despite repeated acts of domestic violence against them.

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