The Boykin family’s rich heritage – Sampson Independent
Clinton: Each year, the Sampson Community College (SCC) Foundation awards more than $100,000 in scholarships to deserving students seeking an education at SCC. almost 100 scholarships are awarded annually, and behind each one there is a story, a reason to settle. recently, lisa turlington, dean of advocacy and executive director of the foundation, had the opportunity to visit the home of dr. bertha boykin todd, and she learns about the incredible backstory and incredible women who made the gift of the boykin family estate possible in scc.
established in 2009 by twins dr. bertha boykin todd and the late dr. myrtle boykin sampson, with the help of her niece, mrs. mary boykin brown, the boykin family estate endowment was truly a family effort, a scholarship made by the family, in honor of the family. It was created in memory of the Sampson County Boykin Brothers: Junious A. Boykin, James C. Boykin, Thomas J. Boykin and Benjamin J. child endowment’s purpose is to generate and provide scholarships that will assist deserving and needy students at sampson cc who are seeking to earn an associate’s degree in the university transfer program.
all born and raised in riley town, n.c., a small area near garland, the boykin women grew up understanding the importance of education due to the early teachings of their relatives. in fact, each of the Boykin descendants acquired an education while carrying on the family legacy of farming, and most became educators. The close-knit family members, all living within a few miles of each other, worked to instill and maintain a strong work ethic in each of their children, educationally and vocationally speaking. in one case, dr. Todd revealed that, thanks to her mother’s instruction, she and Sampson were able to complete two degrees in one year, graduating at just sixteen as Salutatorian and Valedictorian respectively, because they could read so well from the start.
Todd recalled via phone interview: “My mom was a third grade teacher. She always gave us books for Christmas. we have some toys, but mostly books, books, books.”
The father of the twins, the late Thomas J. Boykin, was the founder, lead teacher, and principal of Garland Color High School, from which both Sampson and Todd graduated in 1945 and Brown attended briefly before integration. he sadly passed away in 1936 when the twins were just seven years old. In his memories, Dr. Sampson wrote that her father, during his lifetime, strove to support the black citizens of the Sampson County area by working hard to raise funds to establish his beloved school for local colored teenage students in 1936.
“garland high school was 5 miles from where we grew up,” says dr. Ella Todd explained her as she remembered her father and sister. “Back then, there was no comprehensive high school of color in the area. any black seventh grader who wanted to finish high school had to move to clinton and go to sampson training school. they had to pay for room and board. well, there were four of us and my father knew he couldn’t afford that.”
after graduating from garland colored high in 1945 with her sister, dr. todd earned two master’s degrees and his doctorate in management and supervision from north carolina central university (nccu) and east carolina university (ecu). she spent 39 years in the new hanover county public school system before retiring in 1992. a lifelong civil rights activist, todd is recognized as a truly influential woman who helped “shape wilmington,” due to her work in education and activism during school. integration.
most dr. Todd’s educational career was spent at Williston High School and John T. Hoggard High School in New Hanover County, N.C. She was the first and last Williston High School librarian, transferring in 1969 to John T. hoggard high school to work as a librarian and eventually as an assistant principal after the new hanover county schools were phased out. During the 1970s, Todd was the first woman of any ethnic group to be offered the position of principal at the summer high school in New Hanover County. todd also organized the first countywide book fair in the new hanover school system and while working as a librarian she tried to order as many books as possible for libraries that addressed integration, desegregation and the usa. uu. rights as she could.
in addition to working in the school system, dr. Todd wrote and contributed to several novels, including his memoir My Restless Journey, and continued to serve as a bridge between Wilmington’s black and white communities. She believes in racial reconciliation, and by convincing local officials to remember the horrific Wilmington coup and massacre of 1898, speaking with members of the Ku Klux Klan, becoming a life member of the NAACP, and co-chairing the 100th anniversary foundation of 1898, dr. Todd truly dedicated her life to educating both black and white students and communities about the effects, history, and importance of civil and human rights.
he expressed, “one of my philosophies is: ‘the pursuit of goals gives meaning to life.’ it has helped me survive the ups and downs and challenges i have faced living in wilmington since 1952. i believe in reaching down, helping others and raise them if I can, I’ve done it with whites and blacks”.
Like Todd, Dr. Sampson attended Central North Carolina University at just seventeen after graduating from Colored Garland High School. she became a licensed clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, university professor, nationally certified counselor, civic volunteer and philanthropist who made a tremendous impact in the greensboro area, as did her sister in wilmington. Through various universities, including NCCU, Sampson earned three Master’s degrees and two Ph.D. degrees, completed a significant number of post-doctoral studies, and achieved many outstanding accomplishments in the field of clinical psychology.
Early in his educational career, Sampson taught at various middle and high schools, before moving on to higher education at Bennett College, North Carolina University of Greensboro, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. dr. sampson continued to teach at the university level for 23 years, all while working for a greensboro consulting and therapeutic firm. She also wrote an autobiography about her life titled “Crazy Lady: Achievement Against the Thickest,” devoting a portion of the proceeds to student scholarships through the Friends of A&T School of Education, which she helped to found.
in May 2016, dr. sampson gave a monetary gift of $200,000 to nccu to help fund future scholarships at her and her sister’s alma mater. Passing away in October 2016, Sampson’s legacy and her lifelong dedication to her work in psychology and her education are still felt today, with NCCU naming a building on campus after her: Dr. . myrtle boykin sampson teaching room.
Like her sister at nccu, years before, dr. Todd had previously sponsored five high school students on their way to college, all of them the first in his family to attend a higher institution. Due to the education they were able to obtain over the years, both Todd and Sampson continued to be passionate about providing financial support to high school and college students so that other children could have the same opportunities they had growing up.
in 2009, after completing the last of their degrees, the twins decided to create a local sampson county endowment that would help teens in their hometown get a higher education while honoring the hard work and His Family’s Legacy: The Boykins Dr. todd expressed that she and dr. sampson were happy and blessed to be able to help students financially through scc, and while he could have created one in wilmington, todd expressed that he wanted to go back to where he started and set up a local endowment in sampson county instead.
explained, “my sister and i wanted to create a scholarship endowment for needy students regardless of color and gender in sampson county, for anyone based on need. i found there were others who weren’t doing so well Like us. Since most of the Boykins were educators, we wanted to go back to where our roots were. Most of the Boykins contributed to that.”
todd and sampson’s niece, mrs. mary boykin brown, a former scc director of nursing and a longtime foundation board member, shares a love and dedication to students just like her aunts. She also attended Garland Color High School until it merged with Bland High in 1957 to form Clear Run High School. After integration in 1969, Clear Run High School became a middle school, and students in grades 9-12 transferred to Union High School. clear run continued to function as an integrated middle school until it closed permanently in the 1980s.
Through a phone interview, Brown explained that the twins originally wanted to create a scholarship for Garland High School, so they could help students at their father’s beloved establishment, their former school and hometown. however, since clear run, the new integrated high school had closed in the 1980s, brown stated that todd and sampson decided to direct their financial assistance to scc students, due to their connection to the university.
brown stated: “myrtle wanted a way to remember family, especially her mother. all members of our family were educators in some sense. my association with the university caused them to choose sampson as garland colored high school was closed. we really just want to help young students who need financial support and also help motivate them to pursue higher education.”
After graduating from clear run high, brown worked as a registered nurse (rn) at george washington university hospital in washington, d.c. before moving to new york to work as an rn at various hospitals there. she returned to sampson county in 1975 and spent a year working at the mary gran nursing facility before interviewing at scc for the position of director of nursing, which she obtained. Like her family, Brown remained highly involved in education and took leaps and bounds toward racial equality, becoming one of the first to serve on the Sampson County Schools (SCS) Board of Education. 1980s and the first African American woman president of the division of health. She programs at SCC in 1988.
brown dedicated nearly 30 years of her life to a career at sampson cc, teaching and assisting students through her teaching position and subsequent role with the foundation. She, like her aunts, has been part of the Boykin family estate since it began in 2009, and she withdrew from college in May of that same year.
Speaking on behalf of all Boykins, Brown said about helping students through the endowment, “It’s really an honor to be able to do it. It’s a blessing to know that we’re doing something to help others, a lot of it.” the family thinks so too.”