Robinson, Bernice, 1914-1994

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Bernice Violanthe Robinson was born in 1914 in Charleston, S.C. to James C. and Martha Elizabeth Robinson. Her father was a bricklayer and her mother a homemaker and seamstress. Robinson attended Simonton Elementary and Burke Industrial High School, graduating in 1931. She then relocated to Harlem, New York, where she worked in the garment district during the day and attended evening classes at the Poro School of Cosmetology. Upon Robinson's 1947 return to South Carolina, she opened a beauty shop and worked with the Charleston Branch of the NAACP as Secretary and Chairperson of Membership. In 1954, she attended a Highlander Folk School workshop in Tennessee, with her cousin Septima Clark. On the insistence of Clark and Esau Jenkins, businessman and founder of the Progressive Club, Robinson became the first Citizenship School teacher for adult education on John's Island, S.C. in 1957.

Robinson worked as a volunteer and part-time employee, teaching adults reading skills to enable them to vote. When Highlander transferred the program to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Robinson stayed with Highlander holding Voter Registration and Political Education workshops in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and other southern states. In 1963, she worked as a Field Secretary for the Political Organization of the First Congressional District in South Carolina. The next year she joined SCLC as a Field Supervisor for Adult Education and instructor of reading, and Director of Educational Workshops for the Highlander Research & Education Center. Robinson left the SCLC in 1970 to work for the South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers (SCCFW), as Supervisor of the Volunteers-In-Service-To-American (VISTA) program. In 1972 and 1974, she ran unsuccessfully for the South Carolina House of Representatives, being the first African American women to run for office in South Carolina. Robinson returned to the SCCFW in 1975 as the Director of Migrant Day Care. In 1979, she became a Loan and Relocation Officer for the Charleston County Community Development Department, a position she held until retirement in 1982. Robinson died in Charleston, September 3, 1994.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bernice V. Robinson papers, 1957-1985 (bulk 1960-1980). Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
referencedIn Edmund Lee Drago papers, ca. 1975-ca. 2005. Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
referencedIn Septima P. Clark papers, ca. 1910-ca. 1990. Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bethel United Methodist Church (Charleston, S.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Bevel, James L. (James Luther), 1936-2008. person
associatedWith Carawan, Candie. person
associatedWith Carawan, Guy. person
associatedWith Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987. person
associatedWith Clyburn, James. person
associatedWith Community Action Program (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Cotton, Dorothy. person
associatedWith Drago, Edmund L. person
associatedWith Evers, Medgar Wiley, 1925-1963. person
associatedWith Hamer, Fannie Lou. person
associatedWith Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.) corporateBody
associatedWith Highlander Research and Education Center (Knoxville, Tenn.) corporateBody
associatedWith Horton, Myles, 1905-1990. person
associatedWith Institutional Development & Economic Affairs Service, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Jenkins, Esau, 1910-1972. person
associatedWith King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. person
associatedWith Lewis, John, 1940 Feb. 21- person
associatedWith Methodist Church (U.S.). South Carolina Conference. corporateBody
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Charleston Branch (Charleston, S.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Palfi, Marion, 1907-1978. person
associatedWith Parks, Rosa, 1913-2005. person
associatedWith Ravenel, Charles Dufort, 1938- person
associatedWith Reddick, Lawrence Dunbar, 1910-1995. person
associatedWith Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987. person
associatedWith Shuttlesworth, Fred, 1922- person
associatedWith Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. corporateBody
associatedWith South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers. corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Christian Leadership Conference. corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Regional Council. corporateBody
associatedWith United Methodist Church (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith United Methodist Women (U.S.). South Carolina Conference. corporateBody
associatedWith Volunteers in Service to America. corporateBody
associatedWith Williams, Hosea, 1926- person
associatedWith Yonges Island Day Care Center (S.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Young, Andrew, 1932- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
South Carolina--Wadmalaw Island
South Carolina--Johns Island
Southern States
United States
South Carolina--Edisto Island
Charleston (S.C.)
South Carolina--Yonges Island
African American politicians
African Americans
African Americans
African Americans
Civil rights
Civil rights movement
Day care centers
Functional literacy
Voter registration


Birth 1914

Death 1994

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Ark ID: w66x8xdk

SNAC ID: 69848709