Founded in 1896 as the state's sole public college for black youth, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY has played a key role in the education of African-Americans in the state and nation. As a land-grant institution, it struggled to provide agricultural and mechanical training to generations of black youngsters. Through its extension program, it sent farm and home demonstration agents into rural counties to provide knowledge and information to impoverished black farm families.
The University has educated scores of teachers for the public schools. It provided education in sciences, literature, and history. The support of the Rosenwald Fund and the General Education Board helped the institution survive the Depression. After World War II, the state legislature created a graduate program and a law school at SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY to prevent black students from enrolling in the University of South Carolina's graduate and legal education programs. The legislature also dramatically increased funding at the college in an effort to make "separate but equal" a reality in higher education in South Carolina. During the 1950s and 1960s hundreds of S.C. STATE students participated in local civil rights demonstrations and were arrested. In 1968 three young men were slain and 27 wounded on the campus by state highway patrolmen in the Orangeburg Massacre.
Since 1966, S.C. STATE has been open to white students and faculty, but it has largely retained its mission and character as an historically black institution. In 1971, the agricultural program was terminated and the college farm was transformed into a community recreation center consisting of a golf course as well as soccer and baseball fields. Today there are nearly 5000 students majoring in a wide range of programs that include agribusiness, accounting, art, English, and drama as well as fashion merchandising, physics, psychology, and political science.