Bobby Donaldson, director of the University of South Carolina Center for History and Research, announced a donation from Williams, an energy infrastructure company. Photos by Kaitlyn McCue. 

Williams, an energy infrastructure company headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced a $1.5 million donation Tuesday to expand the University of South Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights History and Research over the next three years.

The Center for Civil Rights History and Research, established in 2015, will now be equipped with traveling and permanent exhibits featuring oral histories and archival collections, allowing students across the nation to learn the untold histories of the civil rights movement, according to officials at the news conference.

“We want to be a resource, especially for young people, for teachers in primary schools, middle schools, high schools, universities and for the entire state and for the nation,” said UofSC Interim President Harris Pastides.

Pastides, joined by Williams executives and university alumna, Kelly Adams, announced the substantial donation at the South Carolina African American History Memorial on the State House grounds.

Williams, formally known as Williams Companies Inc., handles roughly 30 percent of natural gas in the United States. The company runs a Transco natural gas pipeline extending 412 miles through South Carolina.

“This is not a South Carolina announcement. This center will be a unique gem for the entire United States of America,” Pastides said.

The funding, while providing a strong foundation for civil rights education at the state level, will also serve as a platform for the University Center to share more stories of activism and Black history across the nation.

“With the funding that Williams is providing, we’ll be able to go more places and do more things,” said Adams, a Williams employee and 2001 UofSC alumna.

UofSC’s Center for Civil Rights History and Research director and history professor Bobby Donaldson led a tour for E. L. Wright Middle School students following the announcement.
The tour, which included stops at prominent historical markers and civil rights sites, showed students the rich history along Columbia’s Main Street.

“It’s affirmation of the work that has been done on this campus for decades,” said Donaldson, “to teach and preserve the history of civil rights.”


UofSC Interim President Harris Pastides spoke of the importance of teaching future generations about the racial history of South Carolina and our nation in a “meaningful way.”

Williams Vice President Scott Hallam and UofSC Interim President Harris Pastides discuss what the $1.5 donation will mean for civil rights education.


Kaitlyn McCue

Kaitlyn McCue

Kaitlyn McCue is a multimedia journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. McCue has interned for the College of Engineering at the University of South Carolina as well as Congressman and House Whip James Clyburn. She is spearheading political research as a Magellan Scholar and plans to work in law to inspire others. She has taken on roles in editing, copywriting, communications strategy, and social media marketing, but her favorite part of being a journalist remains using her writing to give a voice to the voiceless.

Téa Smith

Téa Smith

Téa Smith is a multimedia journalist from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Smith discovered her passion for creative writing as a staff reporter on her high school newspaper. She is proficient in Adobe Photoshop and editing, and continues to learn how to use Premiere and InDesign. She is a lover of the arts. In her free time she enjoys creating visual art, taking photos and fiction writing.