Action Learning

USA Lab: Bringing the Role of Orangeburg, S.C., in Civil Rights Movement to Light

Credit: Nicholas Briggs

Civil Rights-era photographer and artist, Cecil Williams, showing USA Lab the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum, which he designed.

Learn more about the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum

As part of their USA Lab project in the spring of 2019, MBA students Rahul Agarwal, Dela Gbordzoe, and Celi Khanyile-Lynch teamed up with the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development (SCACED) to study the feasibility of starting a museum in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The goal of the project was to foster economic development and to promote youth activism.

Orangeburg, South Carolina was the site of several crucial moments during the Civil Rights Movement. Although it is part of the United States Civil Rights Trail, Orangeburg’s role was not widely known.

To spur economic growth and community involvement, the USA Lab students and SCACED argued that a museum should be built out of the ‘Triangle Bowling Alley'. Segregation at the bowling alley sparked student protests, and ultimately, the Orangeburg Massacre in 1968.

Credit: Nicholas Briggs

USA Lab MBA students Rahul Agarwal, Celi Khanyile-Lynch, and Dela Gbordzoe in Charleston, SC for their project work with the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development (SCACED).

The students met with stakeholders, toured the proposed site of the new museum, and conducted research to see how it would distinguish itself from nearby civil rights and African American history museums. They also researched the cost and the potential economic and social impact it would have on the Orangeburg community.

They found that between increased African American and international tourism, and the economic stability of similar museums, the Orangeburg Museum would be a feasible way to foster economic growth.

The team recommended that community leaders and stakeholders should work to promote and create an interactive museum, a functional bowling alley, and a mixed-use space to encourage entrepreneurship and community activities.