GEORGETOWN – The latest book by local author, historian and former educator Steve Williams delves not only into the origins of the historic Howard School, but also how its former students shaped Georgetown, South Carolina and the States -United.
Williams has written many books over the years, including “As I Travel Along: The Story of Harriet Tubman and James Bowley,” “Ebony Effects: 150 Unknown Facts about Blacks in Georgetown, SC,” and her most recent, “24 Extraordinary People Who makes a difference But he said his latest book, ‘The Lost History of the Howard School’, has been the most popular he’s written because it brings in details many simply aren’t aware of. .
“People don’t understand that Georgetown used to be 90 percent black,” Williams said, while noting that many homes along Front Street were built by African Americans. “They held offices and owned businesses before 1877. Some of these people who weren’t allowed to be educated, yet did very well for this town.”
Williams said the idea for the book came from a phone call he received last fall from a woman in Atlanta. The woman, Cheptu Barbara, asked him if he wanted to know the true origins of the Howard School, a school where many of the most famous Georgetonians were educated.
“She told me about a little-known and long-forgotten lawsuit involving the father of the most famous person to ever live in Georgetown – Joseph Haynes Rainey – and encouraged me to go to the local courthouse and to review the documents on file,” Williams said. .
The details of this lawsuit are covered in the 134 pages of Williams’ book in language that even those without legal expertise can understand.
Williams said she discovered through old court records that the origin of the Howard School was not the Freedmen’s Bureau – an early reconstruction agency that helped freed slaves in the South – but by Edward Rainey and eight others Prominent blacks, some of whom were the original. Georgetown builders and businessmen.
Readers of the book will also learn that the Howard School was named after Civil War Union General Oliver Otis Howard, also the namesake of Howard University in Washington, DC.
The book also includes the photos and names of Georgetonians who have attended or taught over Howard’s 118-year history. One of the most famous is William Albert Sinclair, who was one of the first African Americans to attend the University of South Carolina and went on to earn four degrees at various colleges, including being one of the founding members of the NAACP.
“He then returned to Georgetown and became principal of one of the local public schools for African Americans, thus bringing more knowledge and experience to the community,” said a passage from Williams’ book.
Williams said that although many of the people highlighted in the book encountered obstacles, they overcame them and made Georgetown, South Carolina and the rest of the country a better place.
“I don’t like excuses,” Williams said. “Yes, life is hard and sometimes incredibly cruel. Yes, discrimination exists. Yes, there is racism, but that shouldn’t hold you back.
To purchase the book locally, contact Williams at 864-346-0749. Or, the book can be purchased at Amazon.