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2021 Black History Month: George and Roszena Shaw and Robert and Pat Kemp

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Current Community Members: Robert and Pat Kemp

Robert and Pat Kemp have been residents of Clemson for over 52 years. As residents, they have regularly volunteered in various areas in the Clemson Area. As members of New Holly Light Baptist Church, they lead the church’s visitation ministry. As they have a love for youth, both Robert and Pat coached recreational sports through the Clemson YMCA. They also have a love for animals. The Kemps have had 9 AKC registered dog show champions. They have shared their dog training talents with the Clemson community for over 40 years.

In August 2007, Robert and Pat were part of a diverse group of local residents, graduates from the former Calhoun Elementary School and volunteers from Clemson University that joined together to establish the Clemson Area African American Museum (CAAAM) which is currently located in the Calhoun Bridge Center at 214 Butler Street, Clemson. In 2008, the Kemps were selected to be on the founding Board of Directors and officers for CAAAM. Robert served as Chair and Pat as Vice-Chair of CAAAM’s board in 2009. Additionally, they have served on CAAAM’s volunteer and fundraising committee. They continue to serve in administrative capacities on the newly established Friends of CAAAM Board.

Historical Community Member: George and Roszena Shaw

George Shaw was born an enslaved man in 1857 in Abbeville County, South Carolina. When he was about 31 years old, he was convicted of “malicious mischief” and sent to the state penitentiary in Columbia. He was then leased from the state by Clemson trustees to help build their college for white males. During this time, he helped clear land and erect academic buildings and faculty homes using local materials, including hand-made bricks fashioned from red clay and granite foundations repurposed from the demolition of what had been the Fort Hill Plantation quarters for enslaved field hands.

Shaw settled in Calhoun, SC around 1895, during a time when Jim Crow laws forced most African American South Carolinians to leave the state, and married Roszena Brown with whom he had seven children. By 1900, Shaw began purchasing land around the town that would soon be called Clemson. He would ultimately amass about 100 acres, including Shaw Street, where the family home was located on the farm he established. Roszena Shaw was a homemaker who kept the family together and babysat her youngest granddaughter, Rosa, and her great-grandchildren. Her sons and daughters took good care of her. She was a member of the United House of Prayer for All People Church in Calhoun; her husband joined the Abel Baptist Church. Both are buried in the Abel church cemetery.

The Shaws’ children owned several successful businesses, including Shaw’s Grocery and David Shaw’s auto mechanic shop in the City of Clemson. In 1976, the Shaws’ granddaughter Rosa Shaw Grayden was hired as an administrative specialist at Clemson University, and in 1998 she was among the first employees appointed to serve on the President’s Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff. Upon learning of her grandfather’s “malicious mischief” conviction only a few years ago, Grayden mused, “Now I know where I got my spunk.”

Grayden was saddened regarding the selling of her grandparents’ land, which was sold for only a few thousand dollars. It seemed that when the “Shaw property” was sold, it had a domino effect on the neighborhood and property owners. However, while his descendants didn’t inherit the family’s property, Grayden says she was left with the heart to help make lives better. Her desire to help cultivate and empower the community comes from her grandfather George Shaw’s lessons to his family, which was to build and own.

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