Greenville Black History

BHM_hashtag-10The contributions of Greenville’s Black citizens shaped our city socially, culturally and economically. In the 1920s, the Working Benevolent Temple and Professional Building and the Phillis Wheatley Association anchored a Black business district on Broad Street. The Benevolent Temple housed Black doctors, lawyers, and dentist offices, as well as insurance firms and Greenville's first Black mortuary.

The Temple was a gathering spot for civil rights activities during the 1960s.The Phillis Wheatley Association was a social and academic center for young Black women that quickly expanded to include programming for boys. 

In the late 1940s, Dr. Edward E. McClaren built a medical shelter next to his home in West Greenville to treat Black patients and perform surgeries when opportunities for quality care were limited. 

In the 1960s, students at Sterling High School, Greenville’s first Black Senior High, were pivotal in the Civil Rights Movement, protesting and organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters.

We are dedicated to preserving and publicizing those significant locations and telling the stories of those who bravely fought for equality. Recognition of the contributions extends beyond one month of the year. Black history is Greenville history. 

  1. Black History Tours

    In 2024 we launched Black History Tours to showcase locations that provided healthcare, education and office spaces during segregation. The tour celebrates the places where the Civil Rights movement sparked change and national leaders rallied for striking workers. Official tours are by bus and feature guides who offer personal stories of their lived history. Self-guided tour packets include a map of our route, downloadable brochures and online interactive displays. 

Our 2024 Black History Tenets

These tenets serve as a foundation to guide our efforts in researching, preserving and promoting Greenville Black History. 

We Study Our Past
We research historic locations. We recognize the sacrifice of residents who showed courage in the face of violence and hate. Through the telling and retelling of lived experiences, we uncover truth and learn to do better. 

We Engage in the Present
The City of Greenville engages in strategic partnerships and support programs to reduce (and eventually eliminate) gaps in wealth, education and opportunities between white and Black citizens. Our City Council prioritizes affordable housing, neighborhood preservation, access to recreation and transportation.

We Strive for an Equitable Future
We are guided by the lessons of the past and strengthened by the actions of today. Our Economic Development team supports Black entrepreneurs. Community Development connects residents with financial resources and housing opportunities to build generational wealth. Our Community Centers offer tutoring for children and recreation to keep adults active and healthy. Our procurement officers seek out minority business owners for bids. The City of Greenville strives for an equitable future.