Saturday, March 13, 2010

She was all alone: Juanita Goggins, the first black female representative in the South Carolina legislature, froze to death at age 75.

"My mother always tried to serve people, to be someone who made a difference," said Horace Goggins Jr., her only child.

All alone, living in poverty, Juanita Goggins has died at 75. She froze to death in her rented South Carolina house just four blocks from the gleaming statehouse dome. Sister Goggins was a real revolutionary heroine in her time. In the racist environment of South Carolina, the Honorable Juanita Goggins became the first black female to be elected to the South Carolina General Assembly. Thirty-five years later, the 75 year-old senior citizen and civil rights warrior succumbed to freezing tempatures in her little house located in Columbia.

Coroner Gary Watts said Sister Juanita died of hypothermia, probably about Feb. 20th. Watts said he found indications of dementia. When she died, during a cold snap, Goggins was wearing several layers of clothing, yet her heat was working at the time.

She had money to pay her bills, but the utility company turned off the electricity for nonpayment Feb. 23. Watts said it appeared Goggins was using Sterno to cook, but her stove was still functioning when police climbed through a window and found her.

Just blocks from Juanita Goggins' rented house, the house of her brutal demise, Governor Mark Sanford has been living the life of wealth and adultery. Sanford, who claims to be a Christian, has earned a notorious reputation for secretly flying to South America to cheat on his wife.

The two United States senators representing South Carolina, Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, have also been feeding at the trough of wealth and privilege while Sister Juanita was aging and freezing at their doorsteps. Perhaps, Sen. DeMint, a publicly professed Christian, was too busy with his Club For Growth meetings to check on Juanita Goggins.

"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores." Luke 16:19-21

Maybe Sen. Graham was too busy collecting his profits at the Mexican-American border that he has been seeking to open wide and without end.

Honorable Juanita Goggins (1935 - 2010)

The first black woman elected to the South Carolina General Assembly, Juanita Goggins of Rock Hill, has died. She was 75.

Goggins, a Democrat, was elected to represent the Rock Hill-centered House District 49 after court rulings forced changes in the makeup of State House districts in South Carolina.

She won the Democratic primary in the summer of 1974 against an incumbent, then defeated a Republican in the general election.

Goggins served three two-year terms before retiring from public life in 1978 with health problems. She had lived the past several years in Columbia.

"She was a fine woman who worked hard for the people of her district," Goggins' husband, Dr. Horace Goggins, said Sunday night. "That meant all people, regardless of race or economic status."

U.S. Rep. John Spratt of York, D-S.C., in a 2009 interview after a portion of S.C. 5 in Rock Hill was named for Goggins, called her a powerful political force not just in local politics, but also in state and national circles.

Twice in the late 1970s, Goggins was a guest at the White House of President Jimmy Carter. Spratt served with Goggins on state Democratic Party committees and at national Democratic conventions in the 1970s, before Spratt was elected to Congress.
Goggins was a woman of many firsts. She was the first black woman from South Carolina elected to the Democratic National Committee and the first black woman in to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Many of her papers from throughout her career are archived at both Winthrop University and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Her focus in six years in the Legislature was to advance progress in public education and public health.

"My mother always tried to serve people, to be someone who made a difference," said Horace Goggins Jr., her only child.

Goggins, who died Wednesday, was a native of Pendleton and graduated from S.C. State University before moving to York County in 1957 to teach home economics in the York school district.

A funeral will be Friday at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Rock Hill, but full arrangements are pending.

See you when I get there sister Juanita!
Love Brother James Hartline

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