Our Photographers Contact Us
Our Patrons Please Give Today Add Images Add History Our Work South Carolina Picture Project

Liberty Hill AME Church — Summerton, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Clarendon County  |  Liberty Hill AME Church

Adopt A South Carolina Landmark
Liberty Hill AME Church

Liberty Hill AME Church in Summerton was founded in 1867, four years after Emancipation and two years after the close of the Civil War. Members originally met in a bush arbor and later a shed. The first formal sanctuary built on this site was constructed after Thomas and Margaret Briggs sold four areas of land to church trustees for $1, though the date is unclear. The current church – New Liberty Hill, as parishioners call it – was completed in 1905 as a wood-frame building. Brick veneer was added in the 1940s.

Liberty Hill AME Church

Jefferson Gray of Reisterstown, Maryland, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Around this time, in the late 1940s, people began meeting here to discuss desegregation. The meetings were led by Liberty Hill’s then-minster, the Reverend E.E. Richburg, and evolved into the landmark case, Briggs versus Elliott. The case officially began in 1949 when Harry and Eliza Briggs of Summerton, along with more than 20 other plaintiffs – including the Briggs’ eight-year-old son, Harry Briggs, Jr. – signed a petition asking Clarendon County School District #22 to provide black schools that were equal to their white counterparts. Their schools, they wrote, should also be equipped with heat, running water, electricity, adequate furniture, and books. The petition was organized by local black minister and teacher, the Reverend Joseph Albert DeLaine. School superintendent Roderick Elliott denied the request.

Liberty Hill Church

Mike Stroud of Bluffton, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1950 Briggs versus Elliott was filed in Clarendon County. Thurgood Marshall – at the time a lawyer for the NAACP – argued that education for black students would remain inferior as long as students were segregated. In 1951 the three-judge panel ruled against the plaintiffs, with only Federal District Judge Julius Waring dissenting. In his dissent, Judge Waring wrote that separate but equal laws were “per se inequality.”

Liberty Hill Marker

Mike Stroud of Bluffton, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and Briggs versus Elliott was the first of five cases that together became Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1952. In fact, the court later stated that it chose Brown versus the Board of Education as the case’s name only because it did not want the case to be seen by the nation as Southern. In fact, in 1954 there were 17 states that required segregated schools, with only Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia being outside the South.

Liberty Hill Church Marker

Mike Stroud of Bluffton, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A victory was handed to the plaintiffs on May 17, 1954. While Briggs versus Elliott ultimately was a win for desegregation, the pioneers from Liberty Hill AME Church were greatly persecuted by their neighbors as a result. All of the plaintiffs were fired from their jobs, and the Reverend DeLaine’s home and church were burned in retribution. Many of them, including Harry and Eliza Briggs and their children, left the state. Harry and Eliza Briggs each received a Congressional Gold Medal posthumously in 2004, along with the Reverend DeLaine. Harry Briggs, Jr. lived out his years in New York; he died on August 9, 2016. Below is a photo from 1964 featuring some of the plaintiffs in Brown versus Board of Education, including Harry Briggs, Jr., pictured second from right.

Harry Briggs, Jr. Historic

Today Liberty Hill remains an active AME church with a history rich in courage, suffering, victory, and faith. The Judicial Annex behind the United States Post Office in Charleston was renamed for Judge Waring on October 2, 2015.

Liberty Hill AME Church Info

Address: 2310 Liberty Hill Road, Summerton, SC 29148
GPS Coordinates: 33.591125,-80.389555
Website: http://www.libertyhillame.com/history.html

Liberty Hill AME Church Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!

One Comment about Liberty Hill AME Church

Deidre Simmons Dunlap says:
November 17th, 2014 at 6:19 pm

BEST WISHES to my Family Pastor, the Reverend Robert China, and his lovely family who has been assigned to this wonderful, magnificent church, Liberty Hill AME Church in Summerton, SC. Rev. China and family, you will be truly missed, and on behalf of my family: thank you for being our family pastor at Springhill AME Church in Lexington for 20 YEARS, and for the wonderful work you & your family have done. We send you blessings and all the best with your new endeavors and adventures in God's work at Liberty.
Love, Deidre Simmons Bartley Bowers Dunlap, Simmons, Summers, and Bartley Familes


Join Us on Facebook
Follow Us on Instagram
See Us on Pinterest


Abbeville ACE Basin Adams Run Aiken Alcolu Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Branchville Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cayce Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Chesterfield Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Daufuskie Island Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Ehrhardt Elloree Eutawville Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fort Mill Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Great Falls Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hardeeville Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Hodges Holly Hill Honea Path Hopkins Hotels & Inns Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Jamestown Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Lowndesville Manning Marion Mars Bluff McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinewood Pinopolis Plantations Pomaria Port Royal Post Offices Prosperity Ravenel Restaurants Ridgeland Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Santee Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stateburg Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Troy Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Ware Shoals Waterfalls Water Towers Wedgefield West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Woodruff Yemassee York