Letter to the editor: Pressley is an example of an MUSC trailblazer


On Dec. 25, 1950, the first African American from Kingstree, South Carolina, who graduated from Edmunds High School and The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) was born. More specifically, she earned her bachelor's degree there, becoming an RN (Registered Nurse) in 1973.

According to the internet's historical records of MUSC, she is not listed as the first African American to graduate as an RN there, but she recalls her initiations and introduction to dormitory life in 1969 was as the first and only female of color to live on campus that year. In fact, she doesn't remember being the second graduate but says she thought she was the first.

She added that traditionally, incoming freshmen were assigned upperclassmen - who were affectionately known as big sisters - to help them adjust to college life. However, when her bigoted, racist "big sister" realized she would be her roommate, then the unnamed upperclassman vehemently refused to do so. Obstinately, the prejudiced student who thought MUSC should not accept Black students would - immediately - drop out of MUSC.

Today this may seem unheard of by some politicians or even false, but the year she entered the sacred halls of MUSC, the Orangeburg Massacre - where nearly 25 unarmed Black American students were shot in the back by the South Carolina Highway Patrol - was still a very fresh thought in folks' minds. Needless to say, her living in the dorms of MUSC in 1969 was a bold act for lack of better words. You see, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was about more than marching, sit-ins, having a right to vote or even protesting unfair gerrymandered political lines for her. Having the American right and earned liberty to sleep in her dormitory was very important to achieve her ultimate goal of actually attending classes and graduating.

Mary Delores Pressley is an excellent example of a MUSC trailblazer.