Juanita Goggins, a trailblazing civil rights activist and the first black woman elected to South Carolina’s state Legislature, was found dead in her Columbia, S.C., home last week after dying there sometime last month.
Goggins died from hypothermia after the energy company cut off her service because of unpaid bills.
Her death marks a moment for us to reflect on the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, and to remember the people who fought for equality in our political, social and economic systems. —JCL
The neighbours knew Juanita Goggins only as an elderly recluse with no friends and a family that was rarely seen.
Goggins was so private that she instructed a neighbour who delivered groceries to leave them at the door, ring the bell and go away before she emerged. She spurned offers of home help from the local authorities even though she was evidently finding it increasingly difficult to look after herself.
So the residents of her South Carolina community were saddened, if not entirely shocked, to hear that the 75-year-old woman had frozen to death in her own home and that her body went undiscovered for nearly a fortnight.
But in the days before her funeral today, they were surprised to learn that at one time Goggins had been a trailblazing politician and civil rights activist who shook up South Carolina’s exclusive politics as the first black woman elected to the southern state’s legislature.