Pioneering South Carolina Legislator Freezes to Death Alone

Juanita Goggins was discovered in her home after a neighbor reported not seeing her lights on for some time.

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Juanita Goggins, the first Black woman elected to the South Carolina Legislature, was found alone in her home, having apparently died of hypothermia.

Goggins, the youngest of 10 children, grew up the daughter of a sharecropper in rural Anderson County, about 100 miles northwest of the capital. She was the only sibling to earn a four-year college degree. Her bachelor's in home economics from then-all-black South Carolina State College was followed by a master's degree.

She taught in the state's segregated schools, married a dentist and got into politics. In 1972, she became the first black woman to represent South Carolina as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Two years later, she became the first black woman appointed to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

"I am going to Columbia to be a legislator, not just a black spot in the House chambers," she told The Associated Press in 1974 following her victory over an incumbent white man from a district just south of Charlotte, N.C.

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