Historical marker unveiled in Batesburg-Leesville details moment that launched racial change

Historical marker unveiled in Batesburg-Leesville details moment that launched racial change

BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, SC (WIS) - Saturday in Batesburg-Leesville, residents, elected officials, and law enforcement came together to make sure the February 1946 beating of an African-American man was never forgotten.

The marker was placed near West Church Street and Fulmer Street, in the area where World War Two veteran Sergeant Isaac Woodard was beaten by local police after being pulled off of a bus.

It tells the story of Woodard, who had recently been discharged was traveling to join his family, when a disagreement led to the bus stopping in Batesburg-Leesville.

Woodard was beaten repeatedly ultimately causing him to go blind.

His nephew, Robert Young, spoke with WIS about the unveiling of the marker.

“It would’ve been sweet and sad for him to know that he was a part of getting this monument up. I’m happy to be a part of it. I really am,” said Young.

News of Sergeant Woodard’s beating made its way to the White House and culminated in then-President Harry Truman’s creation of a council on Civil Rights which led to Truman desegregating the US military in 1948.

The marker goes on to say: “The Police officer was charged with violating Woodard’s civil right, but was acquitted by an all-white jury. The result troubled the presiding Judge, J. Waties Waring, who would go on to issue landmark civil rights rulings, including a dissent in Briggs v. Elliot (1952) which became a model for Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In 2018 a judge, on the town’s motion, expunged Woodard’s conviction.

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