Clelia Peronneau McGowan

(1865-1956)

Clelia Peronneau McGowan grew up with an unusually progressive education after being born to two parents prominent in southern society. Her governess imparted on her thoughts of racial equality and feminist ideals. When her husband died, McGowan moved to Charleston to be near family and raise her two children where she joined political organizations and other local clubs. In 1920 she was president of Charleston’s Equal Suffrage League and was also appointed to the South Carolina State Board of Education and worked towards improving black education. In 1922, she became chair of the South Carolina chapter of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. She then became one of the first women to serve the city council in the City of Charleston in 1923 and served as chairman for various committees. In 1927 McGowan oversaw a project that lead to the first playground for black children and continued working to benefit underprivileged communities until her passing.

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