A newly opened Starbucks on Lincoln Street pays homage to Henrie Monteith Treadwell, the first Black woman to attend USC.
The shop's interior is decorated with draping floral murals and images of Treadwell, as well as a plaque describing her impact on the USC community.
After applying to USC and being rejected in 1962, Treadwell decided to fight for her opportunity to receive an education, and with the aid of civil rights lawyers, she reapplied to the university and was accepted in 1963. With Robert G. Anderson and James L. Solomon Jr., she became one of “The Three,” a group of Black students who advocated for their right to attend USC and helped desegregate the university.
In 1965, Treadwell completed her degree in biochemistry and was the first Black student to graduate from the university since 1877. Today, Treadwell serves as the director of community voices at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
To honor Treadwell, developers of the new store reached out to local artist Lauren Andreu and asked her to bring the proposed mural to life. Andreu said she drew inspiration from the floral clothing often worn by Treadwell and from gardens around Columbia to compose the colorful art piece.
“I think (it's important) even knowing that this history is actually not that long ago. It's still alive and well, so I definitely hope that it feels enriching to the experience of people who come through to know a little bit more about the history of the university and this incredible woman who helped trailblaze this path,” Andreu said.
Primo Partners owns the Starbucks franchise and supervised the building plans and opening.
“(Primo Partners is) a Black-owned company, and they promote people of color, all genders, LGBTQIA+, women and put all of those people forward, believing that they're an underutilized portion of society. And so they're very proud of their heritage,” Stuart Crayk, the store's assistant manager, said.
Embracing diversity and gender inclusivity has been the fundamental theme throughout the process of opening the new location, according to Crayk.
Julian Williams, the vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at USC, said that celebrating diversity is especially relevant today.
“There was a time at this university where not everyone that can attend now, could attend," Williams said. "I think we have to remember that, especially now, given the current climate as it relates to race, here in this country and in the state, I think it's important for our students and faculty, staff and community members to remember that time and remember that those individuals are still here."
As efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion on campus continue, Williams said he feels hopeful for the future of creating a more diverse USC.
"When you walk through campus now, and you see so many faces and cultures and ethnicities represented — that wasn't always the case here. And it wasn't that long ago, either," Williams said. "So I'm excited for us as a university, to think about, 'How do we honor those individuals past and present? How do we ensure that their legacies still live on? How do we ensure that members of our community currently learn about them?'"
The university plans to continue honoring Treadwell with a new sculpture depicting "The Three" in front of the Osborne Administration Building by the end of next fall. The work by artist Basil Watson will depict Treadwell, Anderson and Solomon Jr. walking down the stairs at Osborne following their appeals to attend USC.
"She's an awesome pioneer and represents, in my opinion, what it means to be a Gamecock and what it means to be a USC student or USC graduate alumna," Williams said. "But also what it means to be a Black woman at that time."