Monday, February 11, 2019 8:35:00 AM
The Town of Batesburg-Leesville along with the State of South Carolina, Disabled American Veterans, and the Sgt. Isaac Woodard, Jr. Historical Association honored Sgt. Woodard with a historical marker remembering his tragic blinding in 1946. More than 300 people attended the event including his nephew and caretaker Robert Young.
The blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard, Jr., an African-American World War II veteran, in February 1946 at the hands of law enforcement in Batesburg, sparked a series of events culminating in President Harry Truman’s creation of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights – the first national civil rights commission. Following the commission’s report in late 1947, President Truman desegregated the U.S. military in July 1948.
The incident also changed forever the thoughts and feelings of federal judge, J. Waties Waring. Judge Waring, upon seeing the acquittal of police officers charged with violating Sgt. Woodard’s civil rights, would go on to issue landmark civil rights rulings including a dissent in Briggs v. Elliott (1952). This ruling would become the model for Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
The placement and dedication of the marker is the culmination of more than two year’s effort by numerous groups and individuals.
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