Old Town Rock Hill, South Carolina

Dr. James H. Goudlock

Quiet Warrior for Freedom,
Justice & Equality

Dr. James H. Goudlock lived in Rock Hill from 1932 until his death in 1988. He was president of Friendship Junior College for 41 years, including during the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

He supported Friendship students who initiated the first sit-ins in South Carolina on Feb. 12, 1960, when they demonstrated at four downtown Rock Hill businesses. Friendship students continued protests the following year, culminating in the arrests of the “Friendship Nine,” whose “Jail-No-Bail” stance would become a model for protests throughout the South.

Dr. Goudlock created a climate and culture at his college that encouraged students, faculty and staff to strive for social, moral and political justice. He established Friendship as a sanctuary where individuals involved in the Movement found shelter, food and protection. A notable example occurred on May 9, 1961, when several Freedom Riders, including future congressman John Lewis, were attacked at the Greyhound bus terminal. They received medical treatment at Friendship, attended a mass meeting and spent the night on campus.

Despite great risk, including two bomb threats to the college, Dr. Goudlock was forthright in standing on principle. When reporters asked to interview Friendship student activist Martin Leroy Johnson, he arranged for the interview to be conducted in his office. Later, during a meeting between the Rev. Cecil Ivory and local and state officials, Dr. Goudlock was asked by the chief of the State Law Enforcement Division to forbid students from demonstrating. When asked of his response, Dr. Goudlock said: “Let me put it to you this way, the students are still demonstrating…I cannot in good conscience do anything to discourage them.  I feel that the cause is just, and if they are willing to help remedy conditions, their efforts should not be blocked.”

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Dr. Goudlock’s leadership was longstanding. In October 1957, at the height of the boycott of the city’s segregationist bus system, Friendship co-sponsored the statewide NAACP convention at which he was a speaker along with such prominent leaders as Roy Wilkins, National Executive Secretary of the NAACP. In an era when membership in the NAACP could result in an African American losing his job – or worse – Dr. Goudlock helped organize and participated in NAACP mass meetings.

He was a founding member of the Council on Human Relations, an interracial group credited for integration of Rock Hill’s Recreation Commission and the city softball league, as well as for improvement or expansion of parks and playing fields in African American neighborhoods, and improvements at Emmett Scott and other Black schools.

During the Summer of 1965, Goudlock permitted the American Friends Service Committee to use the Friendship campus as headquarters, where a multiracial group of college students tutored local African American youth, helping prepare them for integration of Rock Hill public schools that fall. They also conducted a voter registration drive for local Black citizens.