COLUMBIA – When Juanita Goggins became the first black woman elected to the S.C. legislature in 1974, she was hailed as a trailblazer and twice visited the president at the White House.
Three decades later, she froze to death at age 75, a solitary figure living in a rented house four miles from the gleaming State House dome. Goggins, a lawmaker from Rock Hill whose achievements included key legislation on school funding, kindergarten and class size, suffered from mental illness and had become increasingly reclusive.
She spent her final years in Columbia turning down help from neighbors who knew little of her history-making past or that part of a state highway – S.C. 5 in York County – is named in her honor. Her funeral is Friday at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Rock Hill.