Shelia D. Crawford was born and raised in Greenville as the oldest of seven children. Succeeding early in life, she participated in the countywide elementary school spelling bee, placing fifth in the county, and was the winner of Bryson High School oratorical competition for students in the eighth through the twelfth grades. She also competed in Greenville’s first Miss Black America Pageant.
As a child in the 1960’s she had an eye-opening experience. She and her mother were at the SC Highway Department on Laurens Road to renew her father’s car tag. She was thirsty and wanted a drink of water. The fountain was labeled as “white only”, but she drank from the fountain anyway. Her mother became so nervous she almost pulled her arm out of the socket trying to get her out of the building. Her mother later explained that she could be hurt, or killed, for drinking from that fountain. From that time on, it became a driving force in her life to work to make sure all people were treated equally.
Shelia believes that education changes lives. She earned an Associate Science degree in Computer Technology from Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, and a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management from Southern Wesleyan University in Central. She also studied in London, England while working for Michelin Tire North America. Shelia was employed with Michelin Tire North America, Inc. for 21 years as a Computer Operator and Computer Operation Manager. She then worked as an analyst for the Financial Aid Office at Greenville Technical College for 8 years, and then as a Senior Financial Aid Consultant for Ellucian, Inc. until 2015. While being employed at Ellucian, she received the World Class Service Award, and consulted at over 200 universities and colleges. She has worked in 48 of the states including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Currently, she works as a contractor for the Ellucian, Inc.
Needless to say, she enjoys traveling. In her spare time, she has traveled to France, Germany, and Switzerland. She has crossed the English Channel in a catamaran, ventured to Israel where she bathed in the Dead Sea. She was baptized in the Jordan River, visited the Mountain of Beatitudes and Qumran, the site of the famous archeological discovery, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even walked the via del Rosa.
In 2012, the members of the House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina passed resolution H 4713 to honor her for the many contributions made to her community and church. It was presented to her by the Honorable Senator Karl Allen on her sixtieth birthday.
Her other passion is to secure the spiritual health of young people. At New Hope Baptist Church in Liberty, S.C., she served as a youth advisor and youth choir director for 32 years. She was a co-founder of the New Hope Baptist Children’s Church, with Johnnie Moore and Hattie Rhone. She has also helped to mentor young people by working with them at Clemson Football games to fund the youth programs. These programs provided spiritual guidance, trips to Myrtle Beach, Disney World, other theme parks, as well as educational events. Shelia is very appreciative for having lived long enough to see the seeds that God allowed her to plant in these young people come to fruition.
For over 20 years she has served as the president of the Pickens County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Under her leadership, the Branch has worked with the Sheriff Department, and every municipal Chief of Police, to be the first county in the nation to hold pro-active meetings with all county residents to discuss issues with law enforcement, with the intent to prevent social unrest in the county, to educate our youth on their interactions with law enforcement, the removal of officers who do not reflect professional behavior and the expectations of the citizens, and continuously meet with law enforcement on issues. They have worked with the School District on the importance of hiring principals, teachers and staff at all levels to reflect the demographics of the county, and assist with the recruitment of minority employees at all levels. In addition, they have worked with the county voters registration office on voters registration, voters education, and voters participation. In the November election, the Branch partnered with Meals on Wheels, and the Clemson area League of Women Voters, to assist seniors with absentee voting. All of this work continues, and will continue, until the Branch is no longer needed.
She has served on committees for Tri-County Technical College, and currently serves on Pickens County Performing Arts board. She is a member of the Clemson Area League of Women Voters, chairperson on the scholarship program for the Clearview Simpson Heritage Foundation, and a member of Clemson University Council of Diversity and Inclusion Board. She was recently selected as the recipient of the MLK Service Award presented by Clemson University.
Most importantly, she is the mother of two daughters, Cassandra LaShun Thomason (Allen), and Sabrina Crawford Gidron (Carlos, Sr); and grandmother of 8 grandchildren, Tye, Alexis, RaShanda, Josiah, Kendra, Carlos, Jr, Bryson, and Caitlyn. Her love for them help drives her effort to make this world better for everyone.
Please join us in congratulating this 2019 Upstate Black History Maker!