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The Honorable Lucille Whipper

Academic administrator and state government administrator Lucille Simmons Whipper was born on June 6, 1928 in Charleston, South Carolina, to Sarah and Joseph Simmons. In 1944, Whipper was a student activist at her high school, Avery Institute, in Charleston, South Carolina; her graduating class sought to desegregate the College of Charleston. While a student at Talladega College, where she received her B.A. degree in economics and sociology, Whipper became involved in a movement to integrate college student organizations throughout the state. Whipper continued her graduate education in political science at the University of Chicago where she received her M.A. degree. Whipper also later earned a certificate in guidance and counseling at South Carolina State University.

In the late 1960s, Whipper served as an organizer and director of Operation Catch-Up, a tutorial program for high school students; Operation Catch-Up was a forerunner of the Upward Bound programs. In 1972, Whipper was appointed to serve as Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Human Relations at the College of Charleston. Whipper became the College’s first African American administrator and developed its first affirmative action plan. With the support of members of the Charleston County delegation and the President of College of Charleston, Theodore Stern, Whipper organized the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture committee. The committee then founded the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in 1990.

Whipper served as vice chairman of the Democratic Party Convention in 1972 and was later elected to the Charleston District 20 School Board. In 1985, Whipper became the first African American female to serve as an elected state official from the Tri-County area. Whipper served for years on South Carolina Human Affairs Commission and sponsored two important pieces of legislation — one making marital rape a crime and the other requiring the monitoring of state agencies' hiring goals for minorities and females. In 2004, Whipper co-founded the Lowcountry Aid to Africa project, donating money to foundations and organizations helping people and families in Africa affected by AIDS.

Lucille Simmons Whipper was married to the late Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. Whipper, Sr., and lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. She is the mother of six children and is a grandparent.

Lucille Simmons Whipper was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 1, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.039

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/1/2007

Last Name

Whipper

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

Avery Normal Institute

Talladega College

University of Chicago

South Carolina State University

Burke High School

Buist Academy

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Lucille

Birth City, State, Country

Charleston

HM ID

WHI11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

South Carolina

Birth Date

6/6/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charleston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

State government administrator and academic administrator The Honorable Lucille Whipper (1928 - ) served as the organizer and director of Operation Catch-Up, the vice chairman of the Democratic Convention in 1972, a member of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, and the first African American administrator at the College of Charleston.

Employment

College of Charleston

Charleston County Public Schools

Charleston Public Schools

South Carolina. General Assembly. House of Representatives

Favorite Color

Green, Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Lucille Whipper's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her parents' parties

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her mother's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her mother's involvement in the church

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her stepfather's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her sister

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers St. Stephen's Episcopal Church School in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes the Buist School in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her early interests

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her experiences in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes the color discrimination at the Avery Normal Institute in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her college aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her mentors at the Avery Normal Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers discrimination at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her high school graduation

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls joining Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her early civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her social life at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her husband, Stephen Edley

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers attending the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls teaching at the Haut Gap School on Johns Island, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her husband, Benjamin Whipper, Sr.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper talks about the Gullah language

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper talks about racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers the birth of her daughter

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes the A Better Chance program

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her challenges at Bonds-Wilson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers school segregation in South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes Operation Catch-Up

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her position at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers Margaretta Pringle Childs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her efforts to preserve the Avery Normal Institute, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her efforts to preserve the Avery Normal Institute, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her first elected office

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her election as a state legislator

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her committee involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls serving on the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls her challenges as a legislator

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper talks about gerrymandering

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her decision not to seek reelection

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper recalls mentoring David J. Mack, III

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her work with The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes her presidency of the state women's Baptist convention

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper share a message to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lucille Whipper narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
The Honorable Lucille Whipper describes Operation Catch-Up
The Honorable Lucille Whipper remembers her election as a state legislator
Transcript
You participated in tutorial program for black children in Charleston County [South Carolina]?$$Yeah during Johnson's [President Lyndon Baines Johnson], I think I was then at Burke [Burke High School, Charleston, South Carolina].$$Okay.$$During the War on Poverty when, what, what they call equal opportunity commissions or something under the War on Poverty the county was granted money to establish commissions for programs for economic and educational opportunity and Charleston County established the OEO, I think you call it, Office of Economic Opportunity, and they had the various programs. They established Head Start programs. Our church in the city, my husband's [Benjamin Whipper, Sr.] church, was one of the first to have a Head Start program.$$What church was this?$$St. Matthew--$$Matthew okay.$$--Baptist Church [St. Matthew Baptist Church, North Charleston, South Carolina].$$Okay.$$'Cause I went to all of the community meetings and so forth to find out. At least I was keeping up with the program as it was developing through [U.S.] Congress and so I was well aware of what, what purposes it could serve and so forth and I was focusing on what could be done as far as education was concerned. And so when they established the OEO office I knew the people that were on the commission and even the people who were staffing and together, besides the Head Start program that they started and one was at my church, we wrote a proposal for a tutorial program. I was still impressed by the ABC program [A Better Chance] and what they did in the summer and things like that, so we established what we called Operation Catch-Up, which was sort of the beginning of the Upward Bound idea of working with students and enrichment program in the summer and then tutoring them during the school year. And so we established Operation Catch-Up that worked in the county, worked throughout the county. It was most, in the summer we had a summer program, I think the first summer program was at my church, St. Matthew. Again, I got the church involved all these things, and then the next year we were at the Catholic school and I think one year we were at Burke one summer. And we employed graduate students from the northeastern universities, became faculty, and that created a lot of stir because they lived in the homes of the students, and there was some negative new, news stories about that, you know these white--$$White.$$--graduate students living in black homes, and then the curriculum, 'Lord of the Flies' [William Golding], and all of that stuff coming down with all that, that type of curriculum. So, we got some negatives on that score, and I directed that project and gave it up, I forgot when. I think I probably gave it up when I moved to the College of Charleston [Charleston, South Carolina]. But, that program really identified a lot of students and assisted them into college being ready to go into just any school that they wanted to go into. It was a very enriching experience for them, and we expanded it throughout the county and we had stations for tu, tutoring and homework throughout the county of, in the city and in the various areas of the county.$So what happens next?$$The next thing was that I thought I was living in the district that, where a vacancy occurred. We'd gone to single member districts, okay, the state, and the representative for District 109 had been indicted with some charges, federal charges, and was it federal or state charges, that's Representative Woods [Robert Roosevelt Woods]. He had become very powerful, chaired the Ways and Means Committee [House Ways and Means Committee] in the state, as with blacks we always, always say when you get to have certain power you better watch out because somebody is waiting to get you on maybe some charge you never even thought about. He was a minister and had, I think he had a Head Start, if not a Head Start he had some federal program and so they threw all of that into whatever they charged him with. So, the district became vacant and I thought that I lived, I did not look at the boundaries, I was about three blocks outside of when I decided that I was gonna run with my husband's permission and enthusiasm, family, everybody yeah go for it. So, I had to move into the district. We built that house, and I was a few blocks outside of the district. And I thought it would be easy for me to find a house in the district. Couldn't find a house in the city, that's how I got in Mount Pleasant [South Carolina] because all my life I've been in the city, except no when we first got married I was in North Charleston [South Carolina]. So, I had to look at the laws as to when you had to be in the district legally and so forth, and we rented after my first announcement and I made sure that, and it was very interesting because some of the first questions people would ask, "What a minister's wife doing running for a political office?" And I said, "What a minister doing," 'cause we had many ministers--South Carolina is one of those states that you don't really get paid to be a legislator, you know you get a stipend. And that of course know, you know holds back a lot of people from running for political office because you gotta work, but pastors were more flexible, so you would find everyday to have a lot of pastors and I said, "Well if the pastor can run for political office I sho' don't see why his wife can't." My husband [Benjamin Whipper, Sr.] had no problems with it at all, and so we moved into the district. We finally found a house and moved into the district; I've downsized since then. I was very interesting, very interesting. I had to fight one of the person who also offered was a male who was a long-time activist, at least he was among those that had desegregated the golf club. He was supported by most of the Democratic leaders like Hollings [Ernest Hollings], you know and so folks said, "You sure are crazy that you're gonna run against," what they call him Big John. He was the, the key person in all of the elections and so forth and so on. And so I told them I thought I could be, beat him because at the level that I had worked, you know with that Operation Catch-Up, I've been all in the county, I knew parents all over the county and Big John was just in political environment more so, and so that was my first battle and I won that in the primary.