May 2000

Bernice Stokes Robinson

Educator

Bernice Stokes Robinson

Bernice Stokes Robinson has been described as a dedicated teacher, a lover of children, a community servant, an unrelenting crusader for justice, and a firm believer in early childhood education. When the great American psychologist William James said, “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it,” those who know Bernice Stokes Robinson maintain that he could have been referring to people like her. She has made a lasting impression as she helped mold the lives of hundreds whom she has taught. Bernice Stokes was born in Sumter County, South Carolina, on June 9, 1914, to the Reverend Rufus F. Stokes and Florence Whetstone Stokes. Following the death of her mother in 1917, her cousins, Pink and Isaac Scriven, persuaded Rev. Stokes to let them raise his young daughter. His sacrifice provided Bernice with two good parents who gave her every opportunity to build a good life. She did not waste their gift. At age 13, Miss Stokes enrolled in Coulter Memorial Academy in Cheraw, South Carolina. She was an excellent student and graduated valedictorian of her class in 1932. She later married Major Anderson Robinson III and they had one daughter, Marjorie. Mrs. Robinson currently has six grandchildren, thirteen great grandchildren, one great, great grandchild, and many nieces and nephews. Mrs. Robinson started her teaching career in 1936 at a small rural, six month school in Chesterfield County. Always believing in the power of education, she took correspondence courses from South Carolina State College, Eastern Washington University, Alabama State University, North Carolina A & T University, and Francis Marion College. In 1950, at age 36, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barber Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina. After teaching for 41 years in Chesterfield County schools where she focused on academic excellence and social responsibility, Robinson retired. She had been a teacher and counselor. She did not relax. Instead, her interest in children motivated her to become Director of the Barbara Lawrence School, a nursery school and kindergarten in Cheraw, South Carolina. She maintained this position from 1980 until 1995. She volunteered her time and refused to accept a salary. Mrs. Robinson has been an active member of her church, G. W. Long Memorial Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder, deacon, Sunday School teacher and Bible School teacher. She was instrumental in the founding of the Cheraw unit of Church Women United, (CWU). She has received many awards and honors, including the Governor’s Office Commission on Women Pioneer Award, Cheraw, South Carolina; Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award and Citizen of the Year Award. This outstanding public servant is a life member of the NAACP and the Federated Women’s Club.