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Arts & Culture

Documentary On SC Army Sergeant Tells Chapter In Desegregation Story

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PBS
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"The Blinding of Isaac Woodard" airs on PBS on Tuesday, March 30.

A documentary on a Black, South Carolina Army sergeant whose blinding helped change the course of segregation will air on public television stations across the Carolinas on Tuesday evening.

Isaac Woodard had just been honorably discharged in 1946 when he boarded a bus in Georgia that would take him to his home in Winnsboro, South Carolina. The bus driver reportedly cursed him when he asked about using a bathroom. The two had words and when the bus stopped in Batesburg, South Carolina, the driver reported Woodard to local police and he was arrested.

Woodard later testified that he was repeatedly beaten by Police Chief Lynwood Shull to the point of blindness.

An all-white jury acquitted Shull.

But Woodard’s beating caught the attention of President Harry Truman who was enraged and with pressure from the NAACP, started working on civil rights legislation.

In 1948, Truman issued an executive order integrating the armed forces.

"The Blinding of Isaac Woodard" airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS North Carolina and SCETV.

In 2019, a historical marker was unveiled in Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, in Woodard’s honor.

More information can be found here.

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