Isaac Woodward

Black and white photograph of Isaac Woodard with eyes swollen shut

World War II veteran Issac Woodard with eyes swollen shut from aggravated assault and blinding. 1946. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(1919-1992)  Isaac Woodard was born in Fairfield, South Carolina to Sarah and Isaac Woodard, Sr, but grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  Woodward served in the Pacific Theater in World War II.  On his way home from being discharged, Woodard requested the bus driver a stop to use the restroom.  When the bus pulled into Batesburg, South Carolina, the driver asked two local police officers to take Woodward into custody for his “very abusive” attitude. They repeatedly beat Woodward, that eventually caused him permanent blindness.

President Harry Truman was outraged by the incident. He established the first presidential commission on civil rights and his Justice Department filed criminal charges against the police officers.  An all-white South Carolina jury acquitted the police officers.  A civil suit filed the next year was also unsuccessful, but Woodward took the money raised from the benefit concert and moved to New York to start a new life.