Lone Black Member of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees Is Being Challenged for Her Seat by a White Man

The bylaws of the board of trustees of the University of South Carolina state that membership of the 18-member panel should be “representative of all citizens of the state of South Carolina.” While blacks make up 29 percent of the state’s population, there is only one African-American member on the board of trustees. The black trustee is Leah Moody, an attorney who graduated from Hampton University but earned her law degree at the University of South Carolina.

Moody is facing a challenge for her board seat by Alton Hyatt, a white man who earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. Hyatt, a practicing pharmacist, has strong connections to many of the state legislators who will be making the final decision on which candidate gets the board seat. Hyatt served in the state legislature in the 1990s.

State Senator Darrell Jackson, an African American from Richmond, told the Columbia State, “If we decide not to reelect the only African American on that board, it would be bad for the state. It would be bad for the university.”

Black enrollments at the state’s flagship university have dropped from 18 percent to 12 percent over the past decade.