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Three Local Heroes Honored in 2023 Freedom Walkway Class in Rock Hill

Three Local Heroes Honored in 2023 Freedom Walkway Class in Rock Hill

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, the 2023 Freedom Walkway Local Heroes class honors a man who uplifted fellow African Americans, a farmer who fought against water pollution, and a college professor who stood up for civil rights protestors at the peak of the local civil rights struggle. These outstanding citizens will be commemorated with plaques at the Freedom Walkway, a public walkway showcasing a mural that celebrates the rights and freedom of all citizens.

Inspired by the Friendship 9, the Freedom Walkway has recognized 26 heroes from various backgrounds since its inception. These individuals – ministers, teachers, journalists, soldiers, everyday citizens, doctors, and more – have championed justice and equality, even at the risk of their own security.

The 2023 Freedom Walkway Local Heroes are:

William Mason Chisolm, an educator and businessman, dedicated himself to improving the lives of young Black women. In the 1930s, Chisolm built the Durkee Institute to train these women as domestics. He later purchased buses to transport rural children to Rock Hill, allowing them to attend school beyond the seventh grade. Chisolm, a musician and poet, traveled across the nation to raise funds for his projects and inform white audiences about the challenges faced by Black citizens in the Jim Crow South.

Levy Deas, a farmer and mill operator, became a defender of the environment. In 1931, Deas sued the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Co. to cease the Bleachery’s dumping of effluent into a Fishing Creek tributary. Although his suit was ultimately unsuccessful, it led the city to divert wastewater from the Fishing Creek basin. Deas persevered in spite of severe backlash for suing Rock Hill’s largest employer during the Great Depression.

Margaret Gregg, an associate professor of English at Winthrop College and a member of the Rock Hill Council on Human Relations, bravely defended civil rights protestors. In February 1961, she wrote a letter to her local newspaper, supporting nine Friendship College students jailed for protesting at McCrory’s Five & Dime. Gregg risked her career by invoking the First Amendment to argue that the students’ treatment violated the foundations of democracy and Christianity.

Each year, students at the Rock Hill School District’s Applied Technology Center will produce videos to honor each Freedom Walkway hero. To learn more about Freedom Walkway, visit the website at

HERE Rock Hill
Author: HERE Rock Hill

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