Originally posted 12/1/2010
In the February 25, 2010 MSR Black History Month Supplement article “Rosa Bogar: securing a legacy for the future,” local elder Bogar recalled having to “sneak through the back door…at Hotel Eutaw,” in her hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Once the largest building in that city’s downtown, Hotel Eutaw employed African Americans in housekeeping and other jobs, but African Americans were not allowed to stay in the hotel as guests during the Jim Crow era. One of those African American employees was Bogar’s grandmother.
The building is now a dormitory of Claflin University, and thanks to Bogar’s efforts (partly documented in the Black History Month Supplement article) a ceremony recognizing the “colored workers” of Hotel Eutaw was held this past April at a local church. Also, a plaque honoring the workers was placed at Gethsemane Baptist Church, where the ceremony took place. Bogar was present at the ceremony, where she was honored for initiating the commemoration.
Two days later, Bogar visited with students at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. During the Jim Crow era, there were two high schools: Orangeburg for the White students and Wilkinson for the Black students.
In 1970, the student body of Wilkinson was moved to Orangeburg High and the school was renamed Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The Wilkinson High School building is now Robert E. Howard Middle School, named after a Wilkinson principal who spearheaded school desegregation in Orangeburg.
“Many do not know how this school became [Orangeburg-Wilkinson],” Bogar says, “and how the Black educators fought to put [the] Wilkinson [name] on the school… Today this school is almost all Black students.”
In August, Orangeburg made the national news when a woman was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of her two toddler sons. Bogar wrote a memorial poem for the children:
God’s Heavenly Garden
For Ja’van T. and Devean C. Duley
You blossom into our World!
But, never reaching full bloom
Your beauty taken away
Far, far too soon!
You are now in God’s Heavenly Garden
Your beauty now shines from above
Here on earth — Ja’van and Devean
You are sadly missed and loved!