Monthly Archives: September 2013

Historic Marker Unveiling: the Hospital Workers Strike (Oct. 1)


hospitalstrike-main photo[2]


Charleston, SC– The Preservation Society of Charleston will unveil its final modern Civil Rights era historic marker on the campus of the Medical University of South Carolina in the Basic Science Building Auditorium, 173 Ashley Avenue.

The event will be held Tuesday October 1, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Event parking will be available at MUSC garages provided that guests show their event program. This event is free and open to the public.

Guest speakers include local Civil Rights leader Mary Moultrie and Department of Emergency Medicine assistant professor Dr. James Tolley.

Civil Rights marches along city streets such as Ashley Avenue were a pivotal moment in the modern Civil Rights movement in Charleston, SC. On March 20, 1969 Medical University hospital workers, led by local activist Mary Moultrie and other national leaders of the movement, began a 113 day strike to end unequal pay and unfair treatment of African American nurses. The Medical University rehired all strikers and established grievance procedures.


In 2011, the Preservation Society placed “Civil Rights Era Sites” on its inaugural Seven to Save list. The Society enlisted an alliance of historians and preservationists, all committed to preserving and protecting African American history, to create a list of historic sites significant to the modern Civil Rights movement. With the help of this alliance and the greater community, the site of the Hospital Workers strike was selected.
This event is made possible through our generous sponsors at MUSC.
For more information please contact Aurora Harris, Community Outreach Manager at (843) 722-4630, or visit our website at
Founded in 1920, the Preservation Society of Charleston is the oldest community-based membership historic preservation organization in the United States of America. Our mission is to inspire the involvement of all who dwell in the Lowcountry to honor and respect our material and cultural heritage. Membership in the Preservation Society is open to everyone.

Artist Jonathan Green stirs up new look at Lowcountry’s rice past!


Artist Jonathan Green — the pride of Gardens Corner — has turned his wild palette to something so common in the Lowcountry, its significance has all but disappeared.

Green is splashing his colorful imagination on white rice.

His new series of 25 works of acrylic on paper is called “Unenslaved: Rice Culture Paintings by Jonathan Green.” It will show through Dec. 15 at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History.

Green also is pulling his world of followers into the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project. It is hosting the Lowcountry Rice Culture Forum this weekend in Charleston.

“The Lowcountry Rice Culture Project proposes to discover and revive the significance of rice cultivation and its legacies,” its website says, “and to use this history as a launching off point for broad discussions of race, class, art, trade, history and economics — in short, the various aspects of culture in the Southeast.”

Food writer Vertamae Grosvenor was tickled to hear about it.

She was born in Hampton County but has lived in Paris and around the globe, writing about food and cooking as an expression of culture.

She was among the first to show the world there is an ingredient called pride in Lowcountry cuisine in her 1970 book, “Vibration Cooking: The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl.” She has written a number of cookbooks, and hosted public radio and public television shows. Now she’s back among the “rice-eaters” of home.

Rice-eaters were made fun of during the migration of blacks to Northern cities, she said. For her, it was in Philadelphia that schoolchildren made fun of the warm rice she brought for lunch while they all had sandwiches.

In the Lowcountry, if rice wasn’t on the table for every meal, you were talked about. Grosvenor told how the questioning would go after you got back from dinner:

” ‘How was it,’ they would ask, and you’d answer, ‘Ooh, it was terrible. The food tasted good, but honey, there wasn’t a grain of rice on that table.’ And they’d say, ‘You’re kidding! You’re lying!’ ”

When little Vertamae was about 8 years old, her grandmother traveled from the Lowcountry to Philadelphia for a visit.

She recalls: “We were having dinner — I’m talking about probably 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but you know they called everything ‘dinner’ — and my grandmother said, ‘Oh, give me some more rice. This rice is so good. Who cooked this rice?’ And I’ll never forget it. My mother pointed to me. She said, ‘What? That gal cooked this rice? It’s perfect. Every grain to itself.’

“I remember throwing my little shoulders back. That was an Academy Award.”

Today, she’s working on a memoir called “Ricely Yours,” borrowing a line from Louis Armstrong.

“This is good about Jonathan’s rice thing,” Grosvenor said. “That’s very important. And you know what? I’d like to see people go back to understanding about goobers, too.”

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at

More than 270 come out for annual NAACP banquet

0917 NAACP banquet

More than 270 people attended the 65th annual Craven County Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday at the Flame Banquet Center in New Bern.

The event was hosted by the Rev. Armandez Crawford and Johnny “Koolout” Starks of KISS-102.

The featured speaker was Dr. Patricia Williams-Lessane, director of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She is the sister of the Craven County Branch NAACP President Marshall Williams.

Mayoral candidates Barbara Lee, Sabrina Bengel, Dana Outlaw, Tharesa Lee and Denny Bucher, along with alderman candidates Johnnie Ray Kinsey, Bee Mayo, Bernard White, Alfred Barfield, Micah Grimes, Susan Namowicz and Victor Taylor, were present. Each candidate was allotted two minutes to speak to guests regarding their plans for office should they be elected.

Community service awards were presented to groups who have worked diligently to improve their community. Organizations honored were: the 6th Masonic District, Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of NC; District 6, Order of the Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliated; Theta Beta Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; New Bern Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Iota Sigma Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; and Arabian Temple No. 42, A.E.A.O.N.M.S.

The Presidential Award was presented to Mary Randolph, a 92-year-old resident of New Bern. She is a historian and advocate for her community. Randolph was in attendance with several of her family members.

James “Tall Jack” Jackson, vice president of the Craven County Democratic Party, said he really looks forward to the banquet and comes every year. He said Saturday’s event was one of the nicest ones that he has attended and that he truly enjoyed the speaker.

Jackson also pointed out the New Bern is very rich in African-American history.

Pam Woods, vice president of the local NAACP Chapter and banquet chairperson, said this is the organization’s only fundraiser.

The NAACP was founded in 1909 and is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization with more than 500,000 members and supporters throughout the United States.

For more information or to join the local NAACP, contact Marshall Williams, president, at

Tina Adkins can be reached at 252-635-5681 or Follow her on Twitter @tinaladkins.

Congratulations Lucille S. Whipper!



Lucille S. Whipper, iconic stateswoman, educator and Charleston civic pillar, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Marjorie Amos-Frazier Pacesetter Award for lasting civic and humanitarian contributions. Montez C. Martin, Jr., award selection chairman, made the announcement today after his 9 member committee chose Whipper in a meeting at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center, a nationally recognized repository of African American history that Whipper helped to establish in 1985, the same year she was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Whipper served in the state legislature from 1986-1996.

The award, named in honor of the late Marjorie Amos-Frazier (1926-2010), the first woman, African-American and non-legislator elected to the South Carolina Public Service Commission in 1980, will be presented to Whipper at the Blue Jamboree on October 26 at The Jenkins Institute in North Charleston. The award and the Blue Jamboree are sponsored by West Ashley Democrats. For more information visit:

As members of the Avery Normal School class of 1944, Whipper and her classmates sought to integrate the College of Charleston. As Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Human Relations at the College of Charleston in 1972, Whipper became the first African-American administrator and developed the College’s first affirmative action plan.

In the late sixties, Whipper and others organized Operation Catch-Up, a tutorial program for high school students that was the forerunner of the Upward Bound programs found today on college campuses nationwide. She was elected to Charleston’s District 20 Constituent School Board from 1978-82.

Whipper is the recipient of numerous awards including Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Morris College, (1989), the University of Charleston (1992) and the College of Charleston (2008). She is a former member of the Morris College Board of Trustees and the Benedict College Board of Trustees. In 1995, Whipper was inducted into the SC Black Hall of Fame and awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 1996.

Currently a member of Morris Street Baptist Church, Whipper has served her denomination as a faculty member of the National Congress of Christian Education, and was Past President of the Woman’s Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina.

Avery Research Center Hosts One of the First Conferences of its Kind


Black sexuality and gender identities have traditionally been taboo topics – until recently. This fall the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center will host one of the first academic conferences to explicitly focus on these topics and more. “Unleashing the Black Erotic: Gender and Sexuality – Passion, Power and Praxis” will include panels ranging from “Women, Sex, and Hip Hop” to the “State of the Field,” which will feature nationally influential scholars. Renowned journalist and feminist author, Joan Morgan will deliver the keynote address on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 4:00 p.m., and this event is free and open to the public. The entire conference will be held from September 18 through 21, 2013 at the Avery Research Center (125 Bull St.). View registration information and full schedule here.


Read a Chronicle of Higher Education article on the rise of black sexuality.


For the second year in a row, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture’s annual conference is breaking ground. Last year’s Black Power conference also drew national attention, including an article in USA Today, and brought international scholars to the College’s campus.


“It is so important that we talk about these issues now, and it is so important that we talk about them here, in Charleston, South Carolina,” says Patricia Lessane, director of the Avery Research Center. “We want to host work that is interesting, work that is being done around the world, and yes, work that is edgy.”


The late African American poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde  argued that the “erotic” involves various forms of personal pleasure, from sexuality and physical appearance to art, music, poetry, and performance. During the 1970s, Lorde advocated for African American women to empower themselves by embracing the erotic as part of the black feminist movement. Conference organizers highlighted Lorde’s definition of the erotic in their call for papers and panels, which yielded a record number.


Consuela Francis, College of Charleston professor of African American studies explains, “We will come together to examine what it means to be black, female, male, gay, straight, and anything in between. In doing so, we acknowledge our agency and power, and collectively unleash the black erotic.”


“This conference is very unique,” Lessane adds. “The interdisciplinary nature of ours, and the focus on different black sexualities really makes this conference one of the first of its kind.”


In addition to the panels, there will also be a dramatic performance by E. Patrick Johnson that is free and open to the public. The one-man-show is entitled “Sweet Tea: Stories of Gay Black Men in the South.”


This conference is hosted jointly by the Avery Research Center and the African American Studies program at the College of Charleston. For more information, contact or 843.953.7609.

Upcoming Conference: Unleashing the Black Erotic (Sept. 18-21)

Unleashing the Black Erotic:
Gender and Sexuality—Passion, Power, and Praxis

The College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center and African American Studies Program
2013 Conference and Symposium

September 18-21, 2013

Historic Downtown Charleston, SC

I believe in the erotic and I believe in it as an enlightening force within our lives as women. I have become clearer about the distinctions between the erotic and other apparently similar forces. We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way. And when I say living I mean it as that force which moves us toward what will accomplish real positive change. -Audre Lorde

Invited Scholars: Joan Morgan, E. Patrick Johnson, Marlon M. Bailey, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Treva Lindsey, Kaila Story. Jointly hosted by the Avery Research Center and African American Studies at the College of Charleston, this conference will feature presentations addressing various topics, including: Black bodies in popular culture; Black sexuality in television, film, and literature; Black women and the politics of respectability; Hip Hop and hypersexuality of Black Women; alternative modes of Black love and family; the politics and economics of porn; iconic Queer motifs; and the Black body and public health.

*Conference Events Open to the Public:
Keynote lecture by Dr. Joan Morgan, Thursday,
September 19, 4:00 pm, Avery Research Center. Joan Morgan, leading hip-hop feminist, is a critically acclaimed critic and editor, and author of the seminal When Chickenheads Come to Roost: A Hip Hop Feminist Breaks It Down. Her current theorizing of the “politics of pleasure” promises to revolutionize the way we think of black women, desire and respectability.

Dramatic Performance by Dr. E. Patrick Johnson, “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South,” Friday, September 20, 7:00 pm, Avery Research Center. E. Patrick Johnson is a performer and scholar of performance studies, critical race theory, and queer theory. He is currently Chair of the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, where he is also a member of the core faculty in the Department of African American Studies. Johnson’s first book, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity was an important study of how “blackness” was “performed” and contested in different social contexts, particularly in relationship to gender and sexuality. His most recent work is an oral history of black gay men in the southern United States entitled Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, published by the University of North Carolina Press.

For more information visit: Please direct questions or concerns to:

For additional information, please contact Dr. Conseula Francis, Associate Professor, English Department and Program Director, African American Studies Program at and Dr. Patricia Williams Lessane, Executive Director, Avery Research Center, at