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Integration came with a cost

desegregation
Clyde Mayes '75 played basketball for two different high schools, the Furman Paladins, the NBA and European pro teams. Photo: Josh Morgan/The Greenville News. Used with permission.

When integration came to Greenville County Schools in 1970, it came with a cost, borne mostly by black families. In one of a series of articles about desegregation appearing in The Greenville News, firsthand accounts of students’ experiences during integration describe the mid-school-year shuffling of students from their segregated schools to integrated ones. Friends, teammates and even members of the same family were impacted by a chain of starts and stops.

One of the story’s vignettes features Furman University alumnus Clyde Mayes ’75, a star basketball player at both all-black Beck High School and integrated Wade Hampton High. Mayes, a religion major, went on to play for the Furman Paladins as one of four black scholar/athletes on the 1972 team. After leading Furman to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, the 6-foot-7-inch, 225-pound power forward was a second-round draft pick for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Mayes later played for pro teams in Italy, Spain and France.

In addition to incorporating firsthand accounts for the article, Carol Motsinger of The Greenville News used archives and books, and turned to historians like Furman History Professor Steve O’Neill ’84.

Mayes is also mentioned in a Jan. 28, 1997 article, “A look back at how black athletes navigated Greenville’s integration in the 1970s,” which was republished Feb. 16, 2020 as part of a series commemorating 50 years since the integration of Greenville County schools.

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