An outstanding lawyer and business leader, and exemplary public servant, Luther J. Battiste III, Esq., has distinguished himself in the areas of business, politics, and the legal profession. He is the son of the late Luther J. Battiste, Jr., and Mildred Beatty Battiste. Growing up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Mr. Battiste developed a thirst for knowledge as a result of countless hours spent reading in the stacks of the library where his mother was a librarian. Early in life, he decided to use his knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on his community.
After graduating from Wilkinson High School, Mr. Battiste attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He became involved with student government activities and engineered the election of the first African-American student body president of a predominantly white college campus in the south. He also co-authored the proposal that resulted in the creation and implementation of the African-American Studies Program. In 1971, Mr. Battiste graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies, the first African-American to graduate from this department. In 1974, he was awarded a Juris Doctor degree from the Emory University School of Law and returned to South Carolina to practice.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Battiste joined the law firm of Johnson, Toal & Battiste. He and his partners formed the first racially integrated law firm (at the partner level) in South Carolina. As an eminent trial lawyer, Mr. Battiste has been exceptional in his profession, serving as the President of the Columbia Lawyers Association, the first African-American President of the Richland County Bar Association and the first African-American President of the South Carolina Trial Lawyer’s Association.
In 1983, Mr. Battiste was elected as one of the first two African-Americans to Columbia City Council. Considered a political pioneer, he served on Columbia City Council for fifteen years including three unopposed re-elections and two terms as Mayor Pro Tempore. During his tenure, Mr. Battiste was known as one unafraid to raise a forceful voice on controversial and often unpopular issues or take the lone dissenting view. For his service to the City of Columbia, a plaza and monument have been erected in his honor in the Eau Claire Community.
In the business arena, Mr. Battiste served two terms as Vice Chair of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and served on two major bank boards, Standard Federal Savings Bank and South Carolina Bank and Trust. He presently serves as the Chairman of the Richland/Lexington County Airport Commission.
Mr. Battiste has received numerous honors including induction into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame in 1999, the University of South Carolina Distinguished Alumni of the Year in 2000, and the Vision Magazine 2001 Achiever’s Award. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and a life member of the NAACP. Mr. Battiste and his wife, Judy Mitchell Battiste, have two children, Justin Foster Battiste and Jade Nicole Battiste.