Tag Archive for Modjeska Monteith Simkins

VNV Tuesday – Speaking Her Truth: Modjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992) 4/3/18

Mary Modjeska Monteith Simkins, sometimes called the matriarch of Civil Rights activists in South Carolina

Modjeska Monteith was raised to be an activist, although it’s doubtful her parents would have phrased it that way. Her father, a master brick mason, and her mother, a schoolteacher who only quit teaching when Modjeska was born, were affluent by the standards of the day; their financial independence enabled them to stress the importance of racial pride, Christian mission, community service, and respect for education.  Her father, the son of a white lawyer and his domestic servant (and a former slave), did not want his family to live subservient to the white world and emphasized the importance of supporting one’s own people.  He kept pictures of famous black people in the home, and he made sure his family reached out to those neighbors who had less.  Through their church, they often visited and cared for the ill or the desperately poor.  The family supported black-owned businesses and were even part owners of a black-owned grocery store.  Without realizing it, her upbringing was preparing Modjeska to be one of the “talented tenth.”