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UofSC names residence hall for renowned African American teacher

Celia Dial Saxon, a UofSC graduate and the first African American to be honored with a building...
Celia Dial Saxon, a UofSC graduate and the first African American to be honored with a building name on the university's campus, is one of the best-known and respected educators in South Carolina's history(UofSC)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 12:08 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 12:41 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to name a campus residence hall for a UofSC graduate and renowned African American teacher Celia Dial Saxon.

“Celia Dial Saxon is one of the university’s most remarkable alumni, a woman whose impact and reputation stretched across the nation,” Interim President Harris Pastides said. “Our university rightly honors her by naming this building for her. Not only was she a true education pioneer, but she embodied the spirit of equality and justice through her life’s work. The Celia Dial Saxon Building will stand as a reminder to current and future generations of students of the high ideals she championed.”

The residence hall is located at 700 Lincoln Street near the Colonial Life Arena and will be dedicated in a public ceremony soon. The building houses 297 UofSC upperclassmen. The site is also adjacent to the location of the Celia Dial Saxon Elementary School that closed in 1968.

UofSC names residence hall for renowned African American teacher
UofSC names residence hall for renowned African American teacher(UofSC)

Saxon was the daughter of an enslaved woman and white man, according to UofSC officials. She was the first African American to attend UofSC.

Saxon began teaching at Columbia’s Howard School when she graduated. She married Thomas A. Saxon who was the dean of Allen University’s law school. The couple had two children.

“Celia Dial Saxon’s life stands as a testament to perseverance, compassion, hard work and a commitment to excellence,” said Alex English, co-chair of the History Commission Implementation Group that considered candidates for whom to name the residence hall. “Her legacy bestows honor and dignity to our campus. It’s only fitting that, as a distinguished alumna of our state’s largest university, her name be memorialized here.”

Saxon was active in the Women’s Club Movement and served as founder of the Fairwold Industrial Home for Negro Girls in Lexington County and the Wilkinson Orphanage of Negro Children. She was a part of the Palmetto State Teachers’ Association, the Culture Club, the Lend-a-Hand Club, the SC Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, according to UofSC officials.

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