“A Radical in the South Carolinian Sense”

James S. Humphreys

in Francis Butler Simkins

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032658
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039411 | DOI:
“A Radical in the South Carolinian Sense”

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Francis Butler Simkins entered the University of South Carolina in September 1914, just a month after the outbreak of war in Europe. He was only sixteen years old at the time. The transformation of his outlook on racial issues occurred at an interracial meeting arranged by a professor at a black church. Simkins explained that at the gathering, with black students sitting in front of him, “my eyes were opened.” He wrote candidly about this moment of enlightenment: “I saw Negro youths as intelligent looking and as well dressed as their white counterparts; I heard them explaining their viewpoint and aspirations logically and dispassionately. I became aware of the New Negro, a person who under favorable circumstances was able to be as civilized as a member of the ruling race. Never since have my views on race been conventionally Southern; I became in part a radical in the South Carolinian sense.” Simkins never fully explained what he meant by “radical in the South Carolinian sense,” but he probably employed the phrase to describe a mind-set that rejected the innate inferiority of blacks.

Keywords: Francis Butler Simkins; southern historians; University of South Carolina; modern literature; blacks; radicals

Chapter.  6948 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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