Portrait of Levi G. Byrd. Image in Digital Collection: John Henry McCray papers, 1929-1989. University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library.
(1891 - ) Byrd, a plumber from Cheraw, founded the Cheraw Chapter of the NAACP after the brutal beating of a black woman. At the time Byrd was requesting a Cheraw branch, NAACP chapters in Charleston and Columbia had dissolved from fear of repercussions.
In a letter addressed to Thurgood Marshall, Byrd once wrote, "As long as I and some others who have nine lives -- the NAACP will never die in South Carolina -- Right will win." He then went on to work as treasurer for both the Cheraw chapter and the state NAACP conference.
Despite resistance from members of the Columbia NAACP, Byrd managed to convince twenty-nine representatives from branches in Charleston, Cheraw, Columbia, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, and Sumter to meet on the campus of Columbia’s Benedict College on November 10, 1939, to create a State Conference to coordinate the NAACP’s activities on a statewide scale. For the first years of the state organization, members of the Cheraw branch held the key leadership roles, but Columbians assumed the primary leadership positions by 1943. Byrd served as the organization’s treasurer into the 1970s.