Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Wednesday, the University of South Carolina will celebrate 50 years since it was desegregated, honoring the first three African-American students admitted into the university.
It just took a few steps for Henrie Monteith, Robert Anderson and James Solomon to forever be immortalized into USC's history books.
"Their day of entry was calm," USC history professor Dr. Lacy Ford said.
Although September 11, 1963 may have been orderly, Ford said there was still tension.
"Some students on campus had rallied in the previous spring to oppose it and I think there were very negative letters sent to The [Daily] Gamecock," Ford said.
While many credit the three for treading a path for future USC students of color, they had predecessors.
USC actually opened its doors to black students almost 100 years before.
"Fairly quickly after the conservative element in the South regained political control in the late 1870s they closed the university again to African-American students," he said.
USC also believes the trio who desegregated the school might have had added company.
"Charles Bolden, who later became famous as an astronaut who was a native of town, was very interested in attending the university, but knew that he would not be accepted at that point," Ford said.
Monteith, Anderson and Solomon were the catalyst for a lot of firsts within the African-American community at USC.
Ford was a student when the first African-American student body president, Harry Walker, was elected.
"Students always tend to rally behind an anti-establishment person," Ford said. "And he was very clearly not the establishment."
Although those three students are credited with opening doors for African-Americans, their efforts benefited all students.
"Commitment to diversity is a key ingredient in a great university. It's something that these students planted in 1963 and it has grown, sometimes more rapidly than others, but its taken root and its grown and its still with us today," Ford said.
On Wednesday morning, Henri Monteith, James Solomon and the family of Robert Anderson will be at the University at the Osborne building to retrace the steps they took 50 years ago.
At 7:30 Wednesday evening Civil Rights Leader Andrew Young will honor the three students. The event is free and will take place at the Koger Center.