It wasnt enough just to be Rev. J.A. DeLaines son, and watch his fathers courage.
In the early 1950s, J.A. DeLaine spearheaded a lawsuit in Clarendon County, S.C., that led to the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing segregated public schools. It cost him his church, his home and nearly his life.
All the while, his son B.B. DeLaine watched and learned and found the doggedness to continue in Charlotte his fathers fight for equal rights.
As a senior at Johnson C. Smith University in 1960, he helped organize and lead sit-ins at Charlottes segregated lunch counters uptown. Later, hed be the first black teacher in Chappaqua, N.Y., and then at Charlottes Garinger High.
Early Thursday, Brumit B. DeLaine, who would carry his fathers quiet determination all his life, died at Presbyterian Hospital after battling cancer and congestive heart failure for two years. He was 74.
When he heard the news, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., reflected on B.B. DeLaine and his family:
He was the product of a family that believed that each of us is our brothers keeper, Clyburn said. B.B. turned the trials of his childhood into action. His story is the story of the civil rights movement. His family are unsung heroes who changed the course of history.
A memorial service is being planned, his older brother, Joe DeLaine, said.
Like my father, my brother was not only a quiet crusader, but very determined to push for things that improved peoples lives, Joe DeLaine said Thursday. When I became his primary caregiver, I began to find out from people things hes done for them that hed never mention.
He didnt look for praise. He looked for justice.
B.B. DeLaines resolve began in Summerton, S.C., where black children went to school in dilapidated buildings and learned from hand-me-down books stamped with colored only so they knew their place.
In the 1940s, most students had to walk miles to get to school because the public system wouldnt provide a bus. As the local NAACP president, Rev. DeLaine prodded for a new bus, but the all-white school board said no.
So black parents, led by DeLaine, took their fight to the courts. After one suit failed, DeLaine recruited Harry and Eliza Brigg to sue for equal education opportunities for their children.
In May 1951, a federal panel of three judges heard the Briggs case, and ruled that Clarendon County had to make black and white schools equal, but not integrated.
They appealed, and their case and four others were folded into Brown vs. Topeka, Kan. Board of Education, ultimately heard by the Supreme Court. In May 1954, the court ruled that separate but equal was unconstitutional and effectively outlawed segregated public schools.
It was a proud moment for B.B. DeLaine.
My brother was right there and the courage of those people had an impact on him, Joe DeLaine said. I was older and not at home. But he was in the thick of it and saw it unfold.
Fleeing South Carolina
Troubles for the DeLaines didnt stop. Threats had already begun when B.B. graduated from high school and enrolled at Allen University in Columbia in fall 1955.
That October, Rev. DeLaine got a threatening letter to leave. He refused. Seven days later, one of his three churches in Clarendon County burned. On the 10th night, a car stopped in front of his house and someone fired shots. DeLaine fired back with a rifle.
That night he fled South Carolina.
There was a warrant for his arrest, and he and my mother moved to New York, where he was essentially granted political asylum until they moved to Charlotte in 1971, B.B. said in the 2009 interview. It was the closest he could get to home.
B.B. had to leave Allen University and enrolled at JCSU.
After the sit-ins began in Greensboro in February 1960, JCSU students Charles Jones and Haywood Davenport approached B.B. to help them organize sit-ins in Charlotte.
By then, my attitude was pretty well molded, he said. It was the first major position I took without direct influence from my parents.
B.B. had access to athletic buses at JCSU, and spent months driving protesters downtown and back.
Charles Jones was the sit-ins spokesman; B.B. DeLaine was the details guy, said Tom Hanchett, a friend and historian at Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte. It was the largest sit-in in America. It made news. It lasted six months and the counters opened up. B.B. kept it going.
A story of Courage
The DeLaines story is part of the museums award-winning exhibit, Courage: The Carolina Story that Changed America.
In 2004, J.A. DeLaine, Levi Pearson and the Briggses were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, Americas top civilian award.
That was a proud day for my brother and for all us, brother Joe DeLaine said.
Another proud day came after B.B. was hired as the first black teacher at Garinger High in 1965. It was the culmination of my fathers work, he said.
His first day was a work day for teachers. The cafeteria wasnt open, so B.B. sat down at a nearby Shoneys.
I was reading a menu, when I heard: Can I help you, sir? I looked up and standing there was a white waitress. That was probably the biggest culture shock I ever had. Five years earlier that wouldnt have happened.
He would become a school system administrator helping in the early 1970s to implement U.S. District Judge James McMillans order to desegregate CMS schools.