The Historical Racism of Weaver’s Alma Mater and Her Current Segregationist Plans

Will McCorkle
3 min readNov 7, 2022
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133/

When one looks up the name Bob Jones University in history, one will find the 1983 Supreme Court case where Bob Jones was trying to defend its tax exempt status against charges of racial discrimination. Until 1971, the university completely banned African Americans, later they prohibited non-married African Americans before finally settling on banning interracial marriage and dating (a policy they kept until 2000). This naturally caused issues with their tax exempt status. Given the blatant racism of the positions, the Supreme Court ruled against Bob Jones saying they did not have the “religious right” to enforce discriminatory practices.

I am very aware of the history of Bob Jones. My family is from Greenville and has a deep history at the institution. Though I never attended there, my grandfather was on the board and my grandmother taught there. I even went to Bob Jones III’s house once as a child. I do remember being young and them telling me why interracial marriage was not right. Fortunately, my grandparents, like Bob Jones eventually did evolve on the issue. I remember my grandfather saying proudly that he was the minister that actually performed the first interracial marriage at Bob Jones. It was a testament how people could change and evolve.

Bob Jones University itself has come out and apologized for its history of racism. This should certainly be applauded. However the history of segregation that encompassed Bob Jones is now being promoted by one of its alumni who is pushing for the privatization of public education, which will no doubt lead to even greater segregation. School choice in general has often led to segregation. We can see this in places like Charleston County, where the public school choice has largely created white and black schools on the peninsula and North Charleston in particular.

Weaver does not only want to expand public school choice and charter schools, she wants to take it a step farther and actually give scholarship funds to students to go to private schools and something even more irrational of giving money for homeschool resources and micro schools. This will largely mean that wealthier and more privileged families (primarily white) will use these funds and more low income and students of color will be less prioritized in under funded public schools. Despite Ellen Weaver trying to hide behind the words of Tim Scott and Condoleezza Rice about school choice really being about helping poor children and the civil rights issue of our time, the historical record shows a very different story with school choice being initially championed by school segregationists. Though the current policies might not be as openly racist, they will have many of the same segregationist and inequitable ends.

Despite all her rhetoric about school choice being a civil rights issue, it not the black community that is largely supporting Ellen Weaver. It is almost exclusively white families, especially those who would like to put their own kids in homeschool or private schools and get taxpayer money to do so. You would think with someone who obtained a questionable graduate degree in a matter of months from an institution that has such a jaded history might think twice about pushing such segregationist policies. We need to call a spade a spade and realize what her policies are. Though she might not be guided by the same racial animus that her alma mater possessed in the past, in some ways her plans are even more dangerous for the children of South Carolina. We have not even begun to talk about her plans to cut the funding for poor and disabled children in the state by refusing federal funds. Please convince your one friend who has not voted or the one that is still on the line to vote for Lisa Ellis and not let these regressive policies absolutely decimate our education system.

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Will McCorkle

I am an education professor in South Carolina with an emphasis in immigrant rights and peace education