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“W” is for Wilkinson, Marion Birnie (1870-1956)

“W” is for Wilkinson, Marion Birnie (1870-1956). Social reformer, Black women’s club leader. Born in Charleston, Wilkinson graduated from Avery Institute and then taught there for nine years. She married the president of South Carolina State and moved to Orangeburg. Wilkinson served on the South Carolina Interracial Commission and was a trustee of Vorhees Institute. She was a charter member and president of the South Carolina Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. Organized in 1909, the Federation was a vehicle by which Black women could use their knowledge and skills to improve social and racial conditions. Also, she was the third president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. Known by South Carolina State students as “Mother Wilkinson,” Marion Bernie Wilkinson encapsulated the efforts of educated, middle-class Black women for social and racial reforms.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson 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.