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Millicent E. Brown collection of the Somebody Had To Do It Project

Identifier: AMN 1148

Scope and Contents

Series 1: Administrative Documents (circa 1963-2015, and undated) Contains correspondence, with photocopied emails, handwritten notes, interview transcripts, grant proposals, financial reports, and conference/symposia presentations pertaining to the establishment of the Somebody Had To Do It (SHTDI) Project. Contains the sub-series: "Somebody Had To Do It" Project Files; Grants and Proposals; Financial Records; Correspondence; and "Somebody Had To Do It" Conferences and Events."

Series 2: "First Children" Interviews (1963-2013, and undated) Contains documents, some with interview transcripts, DVD and audio tape recordings. Several oral history interviews are available online through the College of Charleston's "Lowcountry Digital History Initiative" (LDHI) and indicated as such.

Series 3: Claflin University: Jonathan Jasper Wright Institute for the Study of Southern African American History, Culture and Policy (2008-2013, and undated) Dr. Brown joined Claflin University as an Associate Professor in 2008. As a Senior Research Fellowship with the J.J. Wright Institute, she established the "Somebody Had To Do It" Project. Dr. Brown tailored her courses with the focus on the SHTDI project, utilizing several students as project interns. Contains correspondence, project description for trainees, course syllabi, published essays, tasks and agenda lists, oral history newsletters, event programs, and college catalogs. Contains the sub-series: Claflin University; Interns and Volunteers Training Documents; and HIST 405-1: "Seminar in African American History."

Series 4: Research Documents (1955-2016, and undated) Contains journal essays, reports, photocopied newspaper and magazine articles used in writing the narrative for "SHTDI," in grant proposals, reports, conferences, teaching, and general research. Topics include "Brown v. Board of Education," Desegregation Pioneers, School Desegregation, Civil Rights, Childhood Trauma, Domestic Abuse/Violence and Public School Education. Holds the sub-series: Reports and Essays, and Newspaper Articles. The Various Documents sub-series contains programs, pamphlets, and flyers from other initiatives and events, in addition to materials pertaining to the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.

Series 5: Audio Visual Materials (2003-2010, and undated) Holds CD-Rs, DVD+Ds, and commercial DVDs related to the creation and operations of the "SHTDI" initiatives. Several DVDs contain interviews.


  • Creation: 2003-2013, and undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 2006 - 2013


Access Restrictions

The "Somebody Had To Do It" collection is open and available for use.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

In 1948, Millicent Ellison Brown was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to MaeDe and J. Arthur Brown. Her father was the local and state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1963, Millicent replaced her older sister Minerva as the primary plaintiff in a NAACP-sponsored lawsuit Millicent Brown versus Charleston County School District #20. Filed to desegregate the Charleston public school system, the lawsuit resulted in Brown becoming one of two African Americans students to integrate Rivers High School in 1963.

Graduating from Rivers High School in 1966, Brown then attended the College of Charleston and received her B.A. in History, 1975. She received her M.Ed. in Education from The Citadel in 1978.

From 1989 to 1991, Brown served as the Director of Exhibits and Museum Education at the Avery Research Center.

Brown earned a Ph.D. in History from Florida State University in 1997, writing her dissertation on history of civil rights activism in Charleston from 1940 to 1970.

Brown has taught at several universities in North Carolina and South Carolina, including Bennett College (1995-1999), Guilford College (1999-2002), North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (2001-2002), The Governor's School at the College of Charleston (2002), and Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC (2008-2013).


6.0 linear feet (15 archival boxes; 1 DVD box)

Language of Materials



The Somebody Had to Do It (SHTDI) Project brought to Claflin University in 2008, under the auspices of the Jonathan Jasper Wright Institute for the Study of Southern African-American History, Culture and Policy. This initiative was designed as a multi-disciplinary research project to identify the “first children” who “sacrificed their youth” in implementing the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954. After the creation of a database identifying the names, videotaped interviews were conducted to document the multiple insights and experiences needed for future scholarship about how the United States actually ended legal segregation. The project was initially funded from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and American Friends Service Committee.

The collection contains correspondence, reports, grant proposals, "first children" interview transcripts, conference/symposium documents, financial documents, handwritten notes, research documents, audio visual recordings and pertaining to this Project.

Collection Arrangement

The Somebody Had To Do It collection has five series:

Series 1: Administrative Documents, circa 1963-2015, and undated

Series 2: "First Children" Interviews, 1963-2013, and undated

Series 3: Claflin University: Jonathan Jasper Wright Institute for the Study of Southern African American History, Culture and Policy, 2008-2013, and undated

Series 4: Research Documents, 1955-2016, and undated

Series 5: Audio Visual Materials, 2003-2010, and undated

Related Materials

Millicent E. Brown papers, 1949-2003 (AMN 1003)

J. Arthur Brown papers, circa 1948-1959 (AMN 1074)

Processing Information

Processed and finding aid written by Georgette Mayo, July 2019; oral history transcripts, DVD and audio tape recordings were incorporated in 2020-2021.

Millicent E. Brown collection of the Somebody Had To Do It Project
Under Revision
Georgette Mayo
July 2018, revised in 2020
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States