The first black woman elected to the South Carolina General Assembly, Juanita Goggins of Rock Hill, has died. She was 75.
Goggins, a Democrat, was elected to represent the Rock Hill-centered House District 49 after court rulings forced changes in the makeup of State House districts in South Carolina.
She won the Democratic primary in the summer of 1974 against an incumbent, then defeated a Republican in the general election.
Goggins served three two-year terms before retiring from public life in 1978 with health problems. She had lived the past several years in Columbia.
"She was a fine woman who worked hard for the people of her district," Goggins' husband, Dr. Horace Goggins, said Sunday night. "That meant all people, regardless of race or economic status."
U.S. Rep. John Spratt of York, D-S.C., in a 2009 interview after a portion of S.C. 5 in Rock Hill was named for Goggins, called her a powerful political force not just in local politics, but also in state and national circles.
Twice in the late 1970s, Goggins was a guest at the White House of President Jimmy Carter. Spratt served with Goggins on state Democratic Party committees and at national Democratic conventions in the 1970s, before Spratt was elected to Congress.
Goggins was a woman of many firsts. She was the first black woman from South Carolina elected to the Democratic National Committee and the first black woman in to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Many of her papers from throughout her career are archived at both Winthrop University and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Her focus in six years in the Legislature was to advance progress in public education and public health.
"My mother always tried to serve people, to be someone who made a difference," said Horace Goggins Jr., her only child.
Goggins, who died Wednesday, was a native of Pendleton and graduated from S.C. State University before moving to York County in 1957 to teach home economics in the York school district.
A funeral will be Friday at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Rock Hill, but full arrangements are pending.