University of South Carolina Receives the Political Papers of Ernest Hollings, a 1960s Segregationist Politician Who Later Sought Out Black Votes

The University of South Carolina has announced the acquisition of the political papers of Ernest “Fritz” Hollings. Hollings’ political career spanned more than 50 years in the state legislature, the governor’s mansion, and the U.S. Senate until his retirement in 2005. Hollings unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1984.

The Hollings papers were housed in 2,400 large boxes. Library officials estimate that when the archiving process is complete, the papers will take up 1,000 linear feet of shelf space. The collection will be preserved and digitized into a searchable database.

Of particular interest to readers of JBHE will be whether any additional information on Hollings’ racism will be revealed in the archives. As governor in the early 1960s Hollings was an ardent segregationist who returned the Confederate flag to the top of the state capitol where it remained for nearly two decades. Hollings is known to have used racial slurs and made many disparaging remarks about black people.

As late as 1993, Hollings, then a U.S. senator from South Carolina, was discussing a trade conference he attended in Geneva, Switzerland. Commenting about the members of the African delegation to the conference, Hollings remarked, “You’d find these potentates from down in Africa, you know, rather than eating each other, they’d just come up and get a good square meal in Geneva.”