Old Town Rock Hill, South Carolina
HUMBLE, COURAGEOUS CHAMPION
FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
David Boone was born on December 3, 1932. At the age of 18, he left his home in Kentucky to join The Oratory, a Catholic society with an important presence in Rock Hill. He is known affectionately as “Brother David” to generations of local citizens.
When he arrived in Rock Hill, he could have simply performed his duties with the Church, but that is not what he did. Instead, Brother David became an early and vocal participant in the African American community’s efforts to break the Jim Crow system of segregation and repression.
He supported the integration of St. Anne’s Parochial School, which in 1954 became South Carolina’s first integrated school, and even drove African American students to and from school every day. He raised funds to support private transportation during Rock Hill’s 1957 bus boycott. He joined the NAACP, serving as its Treasurer for many years, and helped to organize civil rights marches and sit-ins beginning in the early 1960s. Brother David participated in dozens of downtown Rock Hill lunch counter sit-ins, including the January 31, 1961 sit-in by the Friendship 9. He was never arrested with the others because he was white. However, he told them, “I will stand with you and I will never leave you.” In 1965, after persisting for seven years, Brother Boone was the catalyst for integration of the City’s softball and basketball leagues. For his efforts in support of civil rights, Brother David faced decades of open hostility and threats from the white community and for years was known as the “most hated white person in South Carolina.” He has said that every time he left Crawford Road for other parts of town, he would take a different route and always watched for trouble in his rear view mirror.
Brother David did not limit his service to Rock Hill to that of Civil Rights. He has also been a passionate advocate for the poor and homeless. He was one of the founders of the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen at St. Mary Catholic Church, where he served as a volunteer and leader. For nearly four decades, he served on the board and as chairman of Carolina Community Actions, an anti-poverty agency serving York County and surrounding counties. Less well known are Brother David’s small acts of kindness to generations of local citizens in need of food, clothing, transportation or just caring.
For all of the accomplishments of his life, Brother David is best known for his quiet humility: “There is work to be done, so I do what I can.” He was the administrator of St. Mary Catholic church for over 50 years and late in life has described his greatest joy as “working with and being accepted by the people of Crawford Road,” the heart of Rock Hill’s African American community.