Mark Auslander’s New Article: “Touching the Past”

Check out Mark Auslander‘s new article “Touching the Past: Materializing Time in Traumatic “Living History” Reenactments” in the open access journal Signs and Society.
Auslander’s article includes a discussion of the reenacted slave auction in the March 22, 1865 Charleston emancipation procession.


Abstract:
Many living history reenactors speak of “touching the past” in their performances. In nearly all instances, these profound experiences of intimate traffic with previous epochs and persons are brought about not through physical contact with historical artifacts but through deployments of replicas and props, including recently produced adornment, weaponry, vehicles, and tools. This essay explores the roles and functions of material reproductions or substitutes of historic artifacts in reenactment performances, and how these object-oriented practices often bring about powerful sensations of historic authenticity on the part of reenactors and their audiences. Auslander gives particular attention to the use of physical objects by those who seek to reenact traumatic events and experiences related to American histories of racial injustice, including experiences of slavery and Jim Crow racial violence.

Lift Every Voice Project to Host National Forum to Address the Challenges of Preserving and Teaching the History of the Civil Rights Movement

Lift Every Voice will bring together experts and stakeholder communities to address the challenges of collecting, archiving, presenting, and teaching the history of the civil rights movement. The national forum, with support from The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will take place on May 14-18, 2013, in Columbia, South Carolina, and will result in a collaborative model and action agenda for libraries, museums, archives, and stakeholder communities which will be disseminated nationally.
There is a pressing need to collect and preserve South Carolina’s untold civil rights stories before a generation passes into history. South Carolina played a significant but largely unknown role in the civil rights movement. Time is of the essence in documenting the stories of elderly participants. Moreover, it is critical to help the next generation appreciate the struggles and the triumphs of this extraordinary period in our nation’s history.
The four-day national forum will bring together librarians, archivists, digital media specialists, members of the civil rights community, scholars, and educators to:
a. Develop a collaborative model for collecting, preserving, presenting, and teaching oral histories and artifacts related to the civil rights movement.
b. Develop a plan for utilizing the collaborative model to collect, preserve, present, and teach civil rights oral histories and artifacts in South Carolina.
c. Further develop the network of civil rights librarians, archivists, historians and other scholars, and educators in South Carolina to facilitate collection, preservation, presentation, and teaching of oral histories and artifacts.
At the end of the forum we will disseminate the collaborative model and information about the South Carolina plan to the civil rights and scholarly communities, including a national media release, a panel at a major national conference, and announcements through national e-networks for scholars, educators, and civil rights organizations.
The Lift Every Voice project will place learners at the center and support engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.

For more information, visit Lift Every Voice’s website.

Charleston-area Clergy Establish Charleston Area Justice Ministry, Area’s Largest Interfaith Community Action in Decades

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The Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) is a Charleston-area interfaith community group aimed at at bringing people together across denominational lines.  The group gatherings (the schedule for which can be found here) are gaining steam, with the last event hosting over 600 people.  To read the full Post and Courier article, click here.

CofC Participates in International Reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Thus begins Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”  On April 16, 2013, fifty years after its authorship, thousands around the world participated in an international commemoration of the letter.  Sponsored by Birmingham Public Library, the event included public readings in over two hundred libraries, museums, parks, churches, etc., around the world.  At the College of Charleston, the reading took place at Cougar Mall in front of a crowd of about a hundred and fifty.  For more information about the international event as a whole, please visit the Birmingham Public Library’s blog.

The Color in Freedom Experience–An Interactive Journey Along the Underground Railroad

The color in freedom experience workshops are designed to use arts integration and a positive, nontraditional methodology to talk about slavery.  They will feature age-specific information and use the arts as a tool to engage in conversations about slavery. The workshop’s facilitators are History scholars and experts on the topic of slavery and the Underground Railroad who will utilize their decades of expertise to educate and inform the audience.  Workshops will address each audience at its level.

All workshops will be held at the College of Charleston Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street, Charleston.  The workshops will take place on May 3 and 4.  For more information, call Sheila Harrell-Roye: (843) 953-7613 or visit the Avery Center’s website.

Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley issues apology to the students of desegregation

Nancy McGinley recently issued an apology on behalf of CCSD at College of Charleston’s commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the desegregation of South Carolina public schools, asking the first students of desegregation for forgiveness for the mistreatment they suffered during their education.

To read the Post and Courier’s full article, click here.

Join CofC for a worldwide celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

On April 16th, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his Letter from Birmingham Jail, participants worldwide will read King’s Letter in celebration. Participants will host public readings from the Letter at various locations around the globe: libraries, museums, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, temples, work places, public parks, bookstores, street corners, coffee shops and anywhere people want to participate. Join the celebration! This event is sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library.

Locally, the event will take place at Cougar Mall on College of Charleston’s campus at 1:30 pm.  For more information, click here.  See you there!

2013 Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival

The “Real” taste of Gullah
Friday, May 31st 2013:
6:00PM-10:00PM
Waterfront Memorial Park
Tickets $50

Annual Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival
Saturday, June 1st 2013:
12:00PM-8:00PM
Waterfront Memorial Park

 

2013 FESTIVAL

The highly anticipated Sweetgrass Festival will celebrate the rich Gullah Geechee cultural heritage and provides the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the Lowcountry area.

This year’s event features an assortment of unique handmade arts & crafts, paintings, live performances, and documentary films. Festival-goers will enjoy a day filled with entertainment that includes gospel songs and praise dance, storytelling and Gullah Geechee skits, basket-making demonstrations and the Adande African Drummers and Dancers. Visitors will be treated to a variety of authentic Gullah cuisine, classic barbeque, fish, chicken and beverages offered for sale by more than 15 Lowcountry restaurants and food vendors. Children and adults will enjoy family friendly activities including a waterslide.

Publications on Lowcountry Gullah Geechee history, fiction, and cookbooks will be available for sale as well.

Admission and parking are free. The festival is a family event and no alcohol is sold. Animals, skateboards, and bicycles are not allowed. Businesses interested in becoming a sponsor for the event should contact Thomasena Stokes-Marshall at (843) 856.9732.

Fisk Jubilee Singers Concert and Reception

ImageFriday, April 19, 2013 Fisk Jubilee Singers Concert and Reception

On Friday, April 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm, the Avery Research Center presents the renowned FISK JUBILEE SINGERS in concert at the Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC. There will be a reception immediately following the concert with desserts from Sugar Bakeshop.

Tickets are $25.00/$10.00 12 and under or CofC students. Purchase tickets at alumni.cofc.edu/jubilee.  Checks payable to the Avery Research Center also accepted.
Mail to: Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street, Charleston, SC 29424; Attn: Fisk Jubilee Concert

Sponsors for this program are:
suntrust_logo_smallSunTrust Bank, College of Charleston School of the Arts, College of Charleston Friends of the Library, College of Charleston Office of the President,  the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture and Charleston Friends of the Spiritual.

All proceeds to benefit the Avery Research Center’s Public Program Funds. Full details at http://avery.cofc.edu/fisk-jubilee-singers-concert-and-reception.

PURE Theatre Presents The Mountaintop with Kyle Taylor and Joy Vandervort-Cobb

March 29–April 20 PURE Theatre Presents The Mountaintop with Kyle Taylor and Joy Vandervort-Cobb

Performances at 7:30 pm April 4-6, 11-13, 18-20; Matinee at 2 pm Sunday, April 7. 477 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403.

Set on April 3, 1968, The Mountaintop is a gripping reimagining of the night before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When the hotel maid visits Room 306 with room-service coffee and some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people. Full details at http://puretheatre.org/ or(843) 723-4444

Summary of “The History of Education and the Black Freedom Struggle”

The College of Charleston and the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance was proud to host a series of talks on the history of education and the black freedom struggle on February 20th and 21st, “The History of Education and the Black Freedom Struggle: Resistance, Desegregation, and the Continued Struggle for Quality Education.” The lecture series featured renowned historians Dr. James Anderson and Dr. Christopher Span of the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. The lecture series addressed unfulfilled promises of the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision and the pressing demand for quality education and the continued need for continued educational reform in Charleston and across the country. This extended lecture series generated an important discussion about how the community can move forward in providing a quality education to all students.

Professor Christopher Span provided a thorough analysis of the achievement gap, the statistical differentiation in academic achievement between white students and students of color. His talk, “Addressing the Achievement Gap: Understanding Educational Inequality in American Education” also analyzed how the history of segregation continues to impact the quality of education in schools failing to meet the needs of all students. His analysis looked toward an intra-generational approach to understanding the achievement gap in an attempt to move away from the language of failure that stigmatizes many students of color.

Professor James Anderson addressed the role of Affirmative Action in educational policy at colleges and university in his talk, “Affirmative Action and the New Color Line: Fisher v. University of Texas and Public Discourse about Race in Educational Policy.” Anderson has served as an expert witness for the Supreme Court in the Michigan cases and shared his insights about why this policy is considered controversial and why it continues to be challenged today. His talk encouraged institutions like the College of Charleston to continue to promote diversity through institutional policy aimed at not only recruiting but retaining higher levels of enrollment among studnets of Color.

The series also included a panel discussion with some of the first students to desegregate Charleston area schools. Dr. Millicent Brown, Ms. Clarice-Hines-Lewis, and Ms, Oveta Glover spoke about their experiences desegregating Charleston Country School District in 1963, nine years after the Brown decision. Minerva King also spoke about her experiences as being the first plaintiff on the case that eventually desegregated the schools in Charleston. Mrs. Joann Howard and Mrs. Alifay Edwards recounted their experiences desegregating Mt. Pleasant area schools as well. Memories of the historic desegregation of South Carolina public schools illustrate both the promises and problems of civil rights era educational reform. In commemoration of the historic desegregation of public schools, Dr. Nancy McGinley, superintendent of the Charleston County School District, concluded the panel discussion by issuing a formal apology to the panelists. Dr. McGinley then read a proclamation from Mayor Joseph P. Riley declaring February 21st as “School Access Toward Equity Day.” The transcript of the apology and proclamation can be found below.
The discourse generated around issues of educational reform and continuing the movement to provide a quality education to all students continues today. The Charleston County School District is hosting the students who desegregated Charleston schools on April 12. The College of Charleston continues to engage in the important work of educational reform. Please contact Jon Hale for more information, halejn@cofc.edu (843)953-6354

Transcript of the Apology for Desegregation and the Proclamation of School Access Toward Equity Day, as read by Dr. Nancy McGinley, February 21, 2013:

“Thank you Dr. Howard and thank you to the College of Charleston for hosting this event. This event for me, and I’m sure for many of you, is both a wonderful and a sad event to attend and an emotional story to listen to. And in my nine years here in Charleston, six as superintendent, I have read many books about segregation. I have read the very, very painful school board transcripts. I have seen some of your pictures and I have been enormously saddened by the pictures that I saw of you walking into James Simmons for the first time, with your father I believe. The fear in your face, what courageous children you were, I am honored to meet you finally face to face. So today before I read the proclamation I want to say that this is a day of reconciliation, as they say in South Africa. And reconciliation begins with an apology. And on behalf of the Charleston County School District, I want to say, we were wrong, we discriminated against children, represented by these ladies here today. We treated you badly. We will do better. We must do better. But let give you something that you’ve waited 50 years for, and that’s a personal apology.

Whereas in the 1950s, the State of South Carolina constructed over 200 “separate but equal” schools for African Americans, also known as equalization schools, in anticipation of a judicial order from the Supreme Court to desegregate; and

Whereas, the State of South Carolina stalled and avoided the process of desegregation until 1963 despite the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to do so; and

Whereas in 1963, Millicent E. Brown, as chief plaintiff, and Cassandra Alexander, Eddie Alexander, Gerald Alexander, Ralph Dawson, Jacqueline Ford, Barbara Ford, Gale Ford, Oveta Glover, Clarisse Hines, and Valerie Wright, as co-plaintiffs in a case against Charleston County School Board District 20, were the first African American students to desegregate South Carolina’s public schools; and

Whereas 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the pioneering act of these brave “first children”, many of whom have yet to be personally identified or publicly recognized, who courageously entered segregated schools alone or in small groups because the forces of history demanded that young African American children carry forth the struggle for a quality education; now

Therefore, I, Joseph P. Reily, Jr. Mayor of the City of Charleston do hereby proclaim February 21, 2013 as School Access Toward Equity Day.”