In the News
Nov 05 2021
GEORGETOWN — A ceremony to rename the Georgetown Post Office after Georgetown-native U.S. Rep. Joseph Rainey, the first African American U.S. Representative, will be held on Nov. 9.
U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, sponsored the bill to rename the post office back in December 2020 after every member of South Carolina’s delegation to the House of Representatives endorsed changing the name.
“I never heard of Rep. Rainey until I was in Congress, and I saw a portrait of him in a stairway up to the House of Representatives,” Rice previously said. “I did more research on him and I was really proud of the fact that the first African-American representative in the history of our country came right here from our district.”
Rainey was born enslaved in 1832, but his father Edward Rainey was allowed to work as a barber and keep part of his earnings, which he eventually used to buy the family’s freedom in the early 1840s.
Joseph Rainey never received a formal education because of South Carolina’s African American education laws, so he learned his father’s trade and became a barber.
After the Civil War, he helped found the South Carolina Republican Party and represented Georgetown on the party’s central committee, and in 1868 he was elected to the state senate, where he chaired the senate finance committee.
In 1870, Rainey was elected to a U.S. House of Representatives. During his eight years in the House, he spoke out against white supremacists and intimidation, advocated for civil rights and promoted public education.
Rainey’s childhood home also still stands in Georgetown and is a National Historic Landmark. The renaming ceremony will be held at Joseph Rainey Park in downtown Georgetown at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9.