Bishop Michael Goings’ article, “Thanks For The Little Road, But It’s Just Not Enough,” hit not only the target but went straight through the bullseye.
Indeed, I was also disappointed in the recent naming of a block of 24th Avenue “The Ruby Woods Carter Road.” When I learned from someone that such a move was afoot by an unnamed group, I stated that the gesture, while perhaps well-meaning and well-intentioned, was wrongheaded. Having helped Dr. Carnell Cooper found the Ruby Woods Carter Scholarship Foundation in 2007 and having served on several national committees on awards and legacies, I outlined my views of the kinds of honors that are appropriate in shaping the legacy of a person of Ruby Carter’s tremendous career.
Unfortunately, I failed to convey that the particular proposed action was, by any reasonable standard, inappropriate for the nature and level of her lifetime accomplishment—either in her profession, in her community, or in her church. A single block between Calhoun and Dargan Streets, with no house or postal address on it, leading only to the back carport of her home (which in fact resides on Dargan Street), hardly captures the nature or quality of her major contributions to society.
Even if the designated “Ruby Woods Carter Road” had included the entirety of 24th Avenue, continuing onto the portion that extends across northeast Dillon by Willow Lake and ending up at McLean Drive, that gesture would still have fallen short of the mark. Dillon County and the City of Dillon missed a unique opportunity to name a substantial edifice—a school, an auditorium, or a library—for Ruby Woods Carter, which in turn would appropriately honor her career and shape her legacy for years to come.
Carley Wiggins’ news report, “Road Named for Ruby Woods Carter” astutely named just a few former students Ruby Carter encouraged, inspired, and guided through their careers including Bishop Michael Goings, Dr. Jimmie Jones, Dr. Carnell Cooper, Professor John Roberts, Dr. Charles Bethea, and Col. Bobby Grice, Jr. But he could have just as easily come up with a different list including Dr. Daniel Blue, Pastor Earl Goings, Dr. Archie McLean, Jr., Ms. Annie Mae Roberts, Attorney Glenn B. Manning, the Honorable Magnolia Thompson Williams. Dr. Herman Manning, and Mrs. Dorothy Crawford Carmichael. And there are still many more. Each of these former students can, and no doubt will, offer his or her own testimony as a relevant witness and tell his or her own story for others to hear. Let me share with you a small part of mine that sheds light on Ruby Carter and her profound influence on me.
When I introduced Mrs. Carter to the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, a few years ago during his visit to Dillon on Ben Bernanke Day, he whispered to me, as we walked among the crowd to greet her,“She’s the person responsible for you, me, and all of this.”
I realized that he was acknowledging her role in helping him (through me) though I had never mentioned or hinted at any such thing to him. I went to Gordon High School, where Ruby Carter was guidance counselor, and Mr. Bernanke went to Dillon High School. It is true, however, that everything I learned about college admissions during my high school and college years, I shared with him who was always an exceptional, knowledgeable, and motivated student. He has always appreciated and graciously acknowledged in local and national media whatever influence may have come his way through me. We were at Harvard together for three years and at MIT for at least three more years, as he was finishing his graduate work and I was beginning my career as a professor.
One never knows where the advice and inspiration of a teacher or guidance counselor at one school may end up affecting a student at another.
Ruby Woods Carter’s influence was pervasive and systemic, over a period of more than forty years—as a teacher, a coach, a guidance counselor. She promoted students with admission officers at top universities, kept abreast of national trends and requirements, mobilized letters of recommendation from high school teachers and community leaders, and, without the aid of support staff, mailed transcripts and other school records promptly to colleges and scholarship agencies. What has become a national industry of getting students into first-rate universities was something that Ruby Woods Carter excelled at from her small office in Dillon. She was also skilled and sensitive in engaging the families of students who were often reluctant to let their children go to Yale or Stanford, far away for their education.
Ruby Carter guided not only high achievers, but she also worked tirelessly with all students whom she encountered—those who went to junior colleges, those who continued at technical and vocational schools, and those who pursued no higher education at all. She sought out students from all backgrounds and circumstances, across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Her commitment to excellence for a diverse student population is what makes her contributions so special.
These are just a few of the reasons that those who proposed naming the block the “Ruby Woods Carter Road” should now be moved and motivated to designate a more worthy honor to help shape her legacy.
Kenneth R. Manning
3810 Sally Bennett Road
Dillon, SC 29536