James T. McCain Papers, 1957-1972

South Caroliniana Library

James T. McCain, a native of Sumter, South Carolina, was born in 1905. He pursued his education at Morris College, a historically black college in Sumter, and later earned a Masters of Education degree from Temple University in 1940. After completing his studies, he returned to South Carolina and dedicated his career to education, serving as a teacher and principal in various schools across the state.

In 1955, James T. McCain found himself facing discrimination when he refused to disavow his affiliation with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). This led to him being barred from teaching in South Carolina. Unbowed by this setback, he joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) two years later. CORE, a prominent national civil rights organization established in Chicago in 1942, had become a leading force in the fight for African American civil rights by the late 1950s.

Banner featuring photo of McCain along with images of materials from collection

The hiring of James T. McCain as Field Organizer in 1957 (later renamed Field Secretary to the National Office) played a pivotal role in CORE’s expansion and influence in the South. His impact grew further when he was assigned as Director of the Department of Organization in 1962. Throughout his tenure at CORE, from 1957 to 1971, and subsequently with the CORE-affiliated Scholarship, Education, and Defense Fund for Racial Equality (SEDFRE) after 1966, James T. McCain meticulously documented his daily activities. These records, comprising eighteen calendars and accompanying notebooks, are now preserved at the South Caroliniana Library.

In addition to these invaluable calendars, our digital collection also features a treasure trove of letters, publications, essays, speeches, and other papers, all shedding light on James T. McCain’s significant contributions to local and national civil rights organizations. These documents offer insight into his deep involvement in addressing issues such as illiteracy, the integration of public schools, and voter participation within South Carolina’s African American community.

Join us in exploring the life and legacy of James T. McCain through this comprehensive digital archive, as we honor his tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to the pursuit of civil rights for all.

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