October 1990

SC Sen. I. DeQuincey Newman

Civil Rights Activist and State Senator

SC Sen. I. DeQuincey Newman

The Reverend Isaiah DeQuincey Newman earned his place in the pages of South Carolina history books on November 8, 1983, when he became the first African-American to be elected to the South Carolina Senate since Reconstruction. He was the first black to serve in the state senate since 1887. Rev. Newman stood out as a soft-spoken civil rights activist during the 1960s and 1970s. He served as field director of the South Carolina conference of branches of the NAACP for ten years. He also founded and directed the Society for the Preservation of Black History, Art and Folklore. He was born in Darlington County on April 17, 1911, a son of the Rev. and Mrs. Milton C. Newman. As a youngster, he earned money by shining shoes on street corners and in shops. He attended the public schools of Williamsburg County and attended Claflin College in Orangeburg. In 1934, he earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Clark College in Atlanta. Three years later, he earned a divinity degree form Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta and was ordained a minister. Rev. Newman founded two churches in Columbia, the Francis Burns United Methodist Church and the Middleton-Rosemont United Methodist Church. In addition to his church work, Newman also served the state in other ways. He was assistant to the commissioner of the state Department of Social Services and a board, member of the Department of Health and Environmental Control. He also chaired the Governor’s Council on Rural Development. He was a Republican for many years and was named an alternate delegate to the 1956 Republican National Convention. In the 1960s he, like many other blacks, switched to the Democratic Party. He served as delegate to the Democratic Conventions of 1968, 1972, and 1980. Following his election to the SC Senate, he was a member of the Rules, Agricultural, Corrections, and Fish, Game and Forestry Committees. Newman retired in 1985 for health reasons and died two years later. However, his legacy continues. Five other African-Americans have been elected to the SC Senate in the 1980s.