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"L" is for Lamar Riot

South Carolina from A to Z logo

"L" is for Lamar Riot. The Lamar Riot, on March 3, 1970, was the most violent reaction against court-ordered school desegregation in South Carolina. A planned boycott to resist the court order failed. The riots occurred when a mob of 150-200 white men and women, armed with ax handles, bricks, and chains overturned two school buses that had delivered black students to Lamar elementary and high schools in Darlington County. They clashed with about 150 South Carolina highway patrolmen and SLED agents.

Forty individuals were charged with rioting and three sentenced to jail terms. Although the Nixon administration denounced the rioters, federal officials in Lamar looked on as state law enforcement personnel battled the mob—and did nothing. The day after the riot, National Guardsmen were at the school to keep the peace. 

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.