COLUMBIA - The South Carolina NAACP announced Saturday an increased campaign to promote equal funding among the state's schools.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's effort commemorates the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in schools.
Clarendon County was the site for the Briggs v. Elliott case, one of the five lawsuits that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
James Gallman, the president of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, called for a change in the way resources are allocated among school districts.
"We certainly don't want to diminish the progress that has been made, but at the same time we are appalled that we are still so far behind," Mr. Gallman said. "As we look at ... low-income families and these school districts where a large majority of these are African-Americans, we find that the lack of funding has tremendously hampered the opportunities to create equal opportunities for all children."
William Gaither, a member of the executive board of the state NAACP, said education is the most important issue facing the civil rights group next year.
"Education is not offered to all of our children in an equitable fashion," Mr. Gaither said. "If you're from a poor county and your school district is poor, you don't get the same funding as the more affluent areas get."
Mr. Gallman said the state's method of funding creates an achievement gap. The NAACP plans to ask legislators to appropriate equal funds for school districts, he said.
The NAACP's 2004 activities will include the announcement of an education essay contest's winners, tributes to the descendants of those involved in the suit and equity hearings to spotlight progress and needs in the state's education system.
The first commemorative event will be held Jan. 17 in Summerton's Liberty African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the Rev. Joseph A. DaLaine was pastor and had led residents in the Briggs v. Elliott case, Mr. Gaither said.