By Herb Hartsook
University Libraries South Carolina Political Collections
(posted June 30 on A Capital Blog and re-posted with permission)
Modjeska Simkins was a remarkable human rights activist and a uniquely powerful speaker. Becci Robbins captures her essence in a new booklet, Modjeska Monteith Simkins: A South Carolina Revolutionary, just published by the South Carolina Progressive Network. The 38-page booklet is clearly a labor of love by Robbins, the Network’s Communications Director.
Mrs. Simkins’ voice is present throughout the booklet which features lavish quotations. Robbins places Mrs. Simkins both in time and place with a detailed biographical sketch. The booklet also includes rich illustrations and statements by people such as SC Political Collections donors Matthew Perry and Candy Waites who knew and were influenced by Mrs. Simkins.
Until a full-length biography is produced, this forms the best treatment on the life and important role played by this forceful human rights activist.
A June 26 reception at Mrs. Simkins’ Marion Street home, which houses the Network’s offices, celebrated the new publication. Brett Bursey, founder and director of the Progressive Network and devoted Simkins mentee, served as master of ceremonies and gave a stirring talk describing plans for the Modjeska Simkins School for Human Rights, a new endeavor by the Network which will train and encourage individuals to follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Simkins and “take on issues of economic and social injustice.”
3,000 copies of the booklet, which was made possible by a grant from the Richland County Conservation Commission, will be distributed to libraries around the state and interested individuals. An electronic copy is available on the Network’s website.
Mrs. Simkins once noted, “Start each sunrise as a new day. Start out believing there’s good to be done and people to do it for.” That spirit still lives.