Here is a statement from College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu concerning the passing of Lucille Whipper:
Lucille Simmons Whipper was someone who seemed to have lived many lifetimes in the span of just one. She was a model for community activism, a model for compassion and a model for turning plans into action.
Early on in her life, she was active in the emerging Civil Rights movement in Charleston and worked toward greater political empowerment, such as voter registration drives. In her professional career, she was a teacher, a guidance counselor and a public-school administrator in Charleston County, serving at Haut Gap, Bonds-Wilson and Burke High schools. In the 1970s, College of Charleston President Ted Stern hired her to direct the College’s Head Start program and to develop diversity programs at the institution.
In 1985, she was elected the first African American woman to represent Charleston County at the S.C. Statehouse, winning District 109. She was not idle in the Statehouse, sponsoring and co-sponsoring legislation regarding health, women’s issues, mental health, education and the environment. She served on the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee; Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee; Rules Committee; Joint Committee on Energy; Joint Committee on State Employees; and the Human Affairs Commission. Her fingerprints, thankfully, are on much of the legislation passed between 1986 and 1996 – her years of elected service.
Representative Whipper was also instrumental in seeing her alma mater, the Avery Institute, join the College of Charleston. Because of her efforts and her influence, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture was established at the College in 1985 and officially opened to the public in 1990.
Over the years, Representative Whipper has received numerous accolades, including two honorary doctorates from the College of Charleston – one in 1992 and another in 2008. In 2020, during the College’s 250th anniversary celebration, she received the Founders’ Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the College.
Lucille Simmons Whipper was not only a trailblazer at the College of Charleston, but she was also a history maker for the entire State of South Carolina. Representative Whipper will be greatly missed, but because of her many contributions to the community, her presence will always be felt.
By Andrew Hsu, President of the College of Charleston
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