UofSC chooses sculptor for desegregation monument

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — The University of South Carolina has hired internationally renowned sculptor Basil Watson to cast a bronze statue modeled after the first black students admitted to the university since reconstruction.

Robert Anderson, Henrie Monteith Treadwell, and James Solomon Jr. walked through the doors of the school’s Osborne Administration Building on September 11, 1963, and made history for their role in desegregating higher education in the state. Nearly 60 years later, the university recognizes their efforts, the school said in a news release Friday.

The 12-foot bronze statue, which will stand on a granite base, was inspired by an iconic 1963 photograph of the three students descending the steps. Next fall, it will be permanently installed near where they were photographed, the school said.

The Jamaican-born sculptor’s public commissions include Britain’s National Windrush Monument, which honors a generation of Caribbean migrants, and Jamaica’s To the World, a tribute to record-breaking sprinter Usain Bolt.

Board member Alex English said Watson had “a knack for capturing the historical and emotional power of sculpture”.

“The design…represents a very powerful and formidable achievement in the quest for equality and justice for African Americans,” he said.

Treadwell sued for the right to enroll in the school, and it was that lawsuit that made this moment possible for all three students, the university said.

The statue, Treadwell said, is an opportunity to recognize all those who sought to desegregate Southern universities after the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education.

“I hope alumni, faculty and students will continue to think of ways to continually recognize the value of what has been done on this campus,” Treadwell said. “People need to understand that my crossing that threshold was not the end of the story. My crossing that threshold was the beginning of a story.

The statue will complement an on-campus desegregation garden that was dedicated in 2013 to commemorate the deeds of students.

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