Partnership to restore football field of former Equalization School, sends message of community, hope
On November 22, 1963, Bennie Sulton suited up in his maroon and white high school football uniform. The 17-year old was a captain of the Lakeview Tigers in West Columbia. They were about to face Gresham Megget High school from James Island in a championship game. The two schools were a part of South Carolina’s Equalization program; providing an education for African-American students and maintaining “separate but equal” schools for white and black children.
But instead of euphoria, Sulton and his teammates where dealing with a different set of feelings stemming from the realization that graduation meaning the end of football careers for many, desegregation ending the history of their school and also the death of Pres. John F. Kennedy.
Lakeview operated until 1968 and was closed by the school district when it began to integrate. The building later reopened in 1969 as Northside Middle School and eventually became the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center.
Sulton talked with South Carolina Public Radio’s Thelisha Eaddy about working to save the former segregated school and how local partnerships is helping to send a message of unity and hope to the community.