Honorees

June, 1990

Modjeska Simkins

Modjeska Simkins

Human Rights Activist

Known for her aggressive style, Mrs. Modjeska Simkins has fought for human rights for 50 years. Her work has touched the lives of many South Carolinians. Born in Columbia in 1899, she attended what is now Benedict College from the first grade through college. She began her career as a teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Columbia.

Later, she served as publicity officer and branch manager for Victory Savings Bank, which was founded by her brother in the 1920s. During the 1940s, Mrs. Simkins helped organize the newly formed NAACP conference of branches in South Carolina. She served as NAACP secretary for 15 years and increased the number of branches form 10 to 110.

Many say that he civil rights achievements of the 1960s were a result of the framework which she and others had established. Often criticized for her outspoken manner, Modjeska Simkins' motto has always been, "If the civil liberties of any person, whether a communist or klansman, are trampled on. If I know a person has been mistreated, he's my friend."