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FREEDOMWAYS                                                THIRD QUARTER 1969

The Charleston merchants were definitely feeling the loss of revenue resulting from the combination of the downtown boycott, the curfew and general military atmosphere of tension in the city. Losses from a drastic drop in the tourist trade and the cancellation of conventions were estimated at some fifteen million dollars. So the merchants were putting pressure both on the hospital administration and on Governor McNair, whose intervention in the strike was deeply resented by them, to settle the strike.

By this time the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) had entered the picture and raised certain false hopes of being an additional pressure for settling the strike. This federal agency had been reviewing the practices of the Medical College and County Hospitals for almost a year since it was found that many of their practices were in violation of the Civil Rights Acts. These hospitals were anticipating aid in the amount of some fourteen million dollars from HEW. A recommendation from the regional office of HEW in Atlanta that the federal aid be withheld until these hospitals were in compliance with the Civil Rights Act was sent to Washington to Secretary Finch. Had this action been taken by the Federal Government it unmistakably would have been another form of pressure toward constructive settlement of the strike. As SCLC and the hospital workers viewed it, it even offered Governor McNair and the hospital administrators a "way out" of the impasse since they could blame it on the federal government. However, as we shall see, the sequence of events in general revealed the obstinance of The State by its formidable, sophisticated tactics in attempting to wear the movement down. 

On June 2, Governor McNair moved the curfew back to midnight and a large number of the troops were withdrawn from the city. This was a concession to the Charleston business community. Information was also leaked that the minimum wage was going to be raised from $1.30 to $1.50 an hour-that is, up to federal standards, for some twelve thousand hospital workers who are state employees and an additional five thousand other state employees. In addition the reclassification of jobs in state employment to eliminate discrimination in hiring and job practices was to be put into effect. These two concessions were designed to show that South Carolina was complying with the standards set forth in the Civil Rights Bill.

This combination of concessions had the immediate result of relaxing the tense situation in Charleston. Business began to pick up,


Transcription Notes:
---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-13 07:47:28 Transcription was not complete. ---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-13 17:06:08 Omitted extra words and added missed words and capitalization.