Janie Glymph Goree

Carlisle’s town hall, the Janie Glymph Goree Building, bears the name of South Carolina’s first African-American female mayor. Dedicated in 1982, this structure honors Goree’s many contributions as a teacher and public servant for over 40 years. It is a fitting tribute to what a person can accomplish with faith, persistence, and hard work– no matter what obstacles have to be overcome. Mayor Goree was born in Maybinton Township, Newberry County, in 1921, into a sharecropping family that struggled to support nine children. Although her parents, Orlander and Chaney Glymph, valued education it was not easy for them to ensure that their children were educated because African-American schools received less financial support, employed fewer teachers, and had shorter terms under South Carolina’s segregated social system. In addition to her parent’s influence, Janie spent many formative years with her father’s sister whose spiritual life influenced her. One of Goree’s teachers recognized her talents and provided her with opportunities. However, financial problems forced her to attend several different high schools and kept her from entering South Carolina State College, even though she had won a scholarship. Only temporarily delayed, Goree worked as a domestic to earn enough money to attend Benedict College in Columbia. Her perseverance paid off when she graduated Magna Cum Laude as Valedictorian of her class in 1948. From 1948 to 1981, Goree taught mathematics at Sims and Union High Schools in Union. In addition to teaching she sponsored extracurricular activities, chaired academic committees, tutored illiterate people, and instructed Post Office workers. Always seeking to improve herself as well, Goree attended workshops and schools to enhance her teaching skills, and earned her Masters Degree in Basic Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Colorado in 1959. She participated in church activities sponsored by Seekwell Baptist Church, serving as a volunteer, committee person, and Sunday school teacher. Mrs. Goree also took a vigorous role in local politics and civic projects. Her political activities were rewarded in 1978 with her election as Mayor of Carlisle, where she also served as a municipal judge. She has been particularly successful in winning major grants to improve the city’s water system, sewers, administration buildings, recreation areas, and fire department. As mayor, she has been invited several times to the White House, and has become a world traveler, visiting countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean on official fact-finding trips. “You get to meet people of all different cultures and pick up a lot of information from each other,” Mrs. Goree says. “As I travel I see the needs of people are similar everywhere. I feel we have the potential to give all people the quality of life the want.” Mayor Goree has been an active participant in state and national organizations, including leadership positions in the South Carolina Conference of Black Mayor, the Municipal Association, the National Conference of Black Mayors, the Union County Chamber of Commerce and the World Conference of Mayors. She has received numerous awards and citations for her civic work. Being black and being a woman doesn’t bother me,” she says. “If you are capable and willing it makes no difference if you are black, white, yellow, red, or purple. With God’s help, you can do anything you want to do. Whatever you do, do the very best you can. Even if it is digging a ditch, dig it well and dig it deep.” Mrs. Goree passed away in January 2009 at the age of 87.