SC African American History Calendar – March Honorees: Bernard and Herbert Fielding

SC African American History Calendar – March Honorees:  Bernard and Herbert Fielding

Bernard and Herbert Fielding grew up in Charleston during the Great Depression. Herbert, a veteran of World War II, graduated from West Virginia State College in 1948. Bernard graduated from the Hampton Institute in 1953 and spent two years with the Army, completing his law degree at Boston University while stationed there.

In 1952, Herbert took on his family’s funeral home business as CEO and President. Bernard assumed these positions in 1984. Fielding Home of Funerals was established in 1912 and is one of the oldest African American businesses in Charleston.

Herbert and Bernard became active in the NAACP. In 1965, Herbert founded the Political Action Committee of Charleston County to provide voter education and promote the employment of African Americans to voter registration and school trustee boards. In 1969, Bernard became the first African American president of the Young Democrats of Charleston County.

In 1970, Herbert became one of the first African American legislatures elected to the S.C. House of Representatives since Reconstruction. Herbert served on many committees during his decades-long tenure as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives, and then the S.C. Senate. In 1976, Bernard was appointed an associate probate judge in Charleston County, becoming the first African American to hold the position in S.C. In 1990, Bernard became the first African American elected Charleston County Probate Judge. Herbert was chairman of the S.C. Senate Delegation from 1989-1992 and chairman of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus from 1990-1992.

The SCDOT named Highway 61 from the James Island Expressway to South Carolina Route 61 in Charleston County as the Herbert U. Fielding Connector. Bernard’s work has been recognized by the Center for Heirs Property Preservation’s Commitment to Justice Award. For more than fifty years, Bernard offered free services to the Young Women’s Christian Association of Greater Charleston.

Herbert passed away in 2015, followed by his brother Bernard in 2020.

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