Home > Human Rights in the News > Death of Juanita Goggins

Death of Juanita Goggins

Juanita Goggins, the first black woman to be elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, has died aged 75. Goggins, who was living alone at the time of her death, is believed to have died earlier this year on February 20. The exact date of her death is unknown as she was not found until earlier this month. At the time of her death she was living without heat or running water and was believed to be suffering from mental health problems.

Described by both the New York Times and Guardian as a ‘trailblazer’, Goggins claimed a number of firsts in the 1970s. In 1972 she was the first black woman to represent South Carolina at the Democratic National Convention when the Democratic Party nominated George S. McGovern for President. She was also the first black woman to be appointed to the United States Civil Rights Commission and was twice a guest at the White House under President Jimmy Carter. She was educated and subsequently taught in the segregated school system before making education and public health centerpieces of her political platform when she took public office. Having been elected three times, Goggins resigned her seat in the South Carolina legislature in 1980 citing health reasons.

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