Harold R. Boulware, Sr., Esq.

Harold R. Boulware’s pioneer work in civil rights litigation helped set the stage for the desegregation of public facilities and the movement toward equality for African-Americans. Born in Irmo in 1913, he was the son of Robert Walter and Mabel Hughes Boulware. His father was Dean of Harbison Agricultural Institute in Irmo where his mother taught music. Harold Boulware finished Harbison and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. Recognizing African-Americans’ need for legal representation in South Carolina, Boulware chose a legal career. He attended Howard University Law School in Washington, DC by working as a waiter to help pay his way through school. After graduating, he returned to Irmo where he passed the South Carolina Bar in 1940. In 1941 he became the chief counsel for the South Carolina NAACP and led the effort to gain equal pay for equal work for African -American teachers. He gained fame as the chief attorney in the Clarendon County Schools desegregation case of Briggs v. Elliot. This class action suit was consolidated with similar ones from five other states. It became widely known as Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 opinion of the United States Supreme Court that desegregated public schools in South Carolina and the nation. In August 1969 he was the first African-American appointed as an Associate Judge for the Columbia Municipal Court, serving until 1974 when he became a judge in the Richland County Judicial System. His court later became the Family Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit within the statewide Judicial System. In each of these positions, the Honorable Harold R. Boulware served with distinction. “There is a Latin saying, ‘Sui Generis,’ meaning ‘the only one of its kind’, that could have been designed just for him, for truly there has never been anyone else quite like Harold Boulware,” said the Honorable J. McNary Spigner, a judge who served with Boulware. He continued, “I was by myself in that court and completely overwhelmed with work until the legislature selected Harold to help. He was a man of great spiritual and physical strength, determined to give his level best in every case. Never complaining, he was tireless in his work, listened carefully to the people before him, and was absolutely fair. He was sensitive to the needs of children and when appropriate could be as gentle as he was tough. Perhaps his greatest contributions to society were generated by his unerring sense of justice and the fact that he cared about the condition of his fellow man. Failing health caused Boulware to retire in September 1982 from his long and outstanding career. Honors came from the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and the NAACP. In a time of racial segregation and discrimination, Harold R. Boulware, Sr., Esq. was a leader in the quest for human rights. He armed himself with the academic and personal tools essential to lead not only African-Americans, but all citizens to a higher plane of understanding and brotherhood. The Honorable Harold R. Boulware, Sr. died on January 27, 1983.