The Black and White Views of Charleston’s Racially Charged Murder Trials

Two courts in the city of Charleston are currently overseeing high-profile, racially charged murder trials–that of Michael Slager and Dylann Roof–and although the cases differ in their particulars, both of these crimes speak to the pervasiveness of white supremacy locally and nationally. In an interview with Brandon Patterson, a reporter with the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones, Professor Mari N. Crabtree discusses the meaning and significance of the Slager and Roof trials. She also cautions against complacency in the wake of the verdicts, for the best memorial that Charlestonians could erect for the victims is not carved into granite but forged out of a serious confrontation with the systemic issues that produced these heinous acts of racial violence in the first place.

“But from past conversations I’ve had, I don’t think many black people here believed Slager’s trial was going to be a fair one. They weren’t surprised by the fact that the jury is nearly all white. It reaffirmed for them that the justice system is racist. But I don’t know what they anticipate the outcome to be. There’s a desire for Dylann Roof to be held accountable. But for many black people there’s also a trepidation that when his trial is complete, that will end any conversation about race. Or that if Slager is convicted, that people here will get the feeling that they are absolved of dealing with the issues that many black people believe produced Slager’s behavior.” – Professor Mari N. Crabtree

View the full interview here.


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Freedom Schools: Student Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

On Friday, December 2nd at 12pm on South Carolina Public Radio Prof. Jon N. Hale, author of “The Freedom Schools: Student Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement” will be discussing with Dr. Edgar the history of the Freedom Schools and their modern legacy. They will be joined in the conversation by Barbara Kelley-Duncan, CEO of the Carolina Youth Development Center and a board member for The Children’s Defense Fund.

More information on the organization and the airing can be found here.

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Publications by Dr. Anthony D. Greene

We are proud to announce the two following publications by Dr. Anthony D. Greene, an assistant professor in the African American Studies Program.

The first publication is “You Must Learn: How Racial and Ethnic Socialization Affirms Black Identity among Black Americans and West Indians“, a chapter Dr. Greene wrote in the upcoming book “Contemporary African American Families: Achievements, Challenges, and Empowerment Strategies in the Twenty-First Century” (Eds.). Routledge.

The second publication “Aligned or Misaligned? Similarities and Differences between African Americans and Black Caribbeans’ Opinions on Affirmative Action” an article that will appear in the Fall/Winter 2017 edition of The Journal of Race and Policy. Dr. Greene co-authored the article along with three others:
Dr. Maruice Mangum
Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice
North Carolina A&T State University

Dr. LaTasha Y. Chaffin
Department of Political Science
College of Charleston

Dr. Jason E. Shelton
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Texas-Arlington


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Faculty in the News

Dr. Bernard Powers spent time with Pharrell Williams earlier this month during Williams trip to Charleston. Check out the ABC 4 News article here


Pharrell meets with Dr. Bernard Powers at Aquarium Wharf. (Source A&E)

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Wearing Smiles, Wearing Masks

Wearing Smiles, Wearing Masks
Prof. Mari N. Crabtree
assistant professor of African American Studies

I am a historian, and so I have no illusions about whether the past often rhymes with the present or whether the past intrudes upon the present. It does. Often rudely. As a scholar who writes about the legacies of lynching, I have seen in the past and in the present the indifference and tacit approval with which so many Americans look upon violence against African American bodies and spirits. Recent coverage of police violence has simply revealed stories that have been told in African American communities and other communities of color for centuries, stories that didn’t need video evidence to be recognized as truth. In my courses, I want my students to see through what Charles Mills calls “a certain schedule of structured blindness and opacities” in order to connect past violence to present violence and to see how violence is but one way in which the West has sustained centuries of systemic exploitation of non-white people. So many of my students already know this reality all too well. They see it in their own lives.

I started all three of my classes yesterday with Elizabeth Alexander’s poem, “Smile.” We talked about the poem and Terence Crutcher and double consciousness. We talked about the lessons parents pass on to their kids to protect them from destruction—keep your hands on the steering wheel, no sudden movements, cooperate. We talked about the limits of such lessons in a nation in which an unarmed man with hands raised is shot and killed by the police. We talked about what is lost—what part of the soul is crushed—in that space between obsequious and safe. Two of my students were brought to tears. I would like to think their tears came from a place of catharsis, not pain, but it was, in all likelihood, pain. Raw pain—pain that they so often mask behind smiles in different company around campus.

by Elizabeth Alexander

When I see a black man smiling
like that, nodding and smiling
with both hands visible, mouthing

“Yes, Officer,” across the street,
I think of my father, who taught us
the words “cooperate,” “officer,”

to memorize badge numbers,
who has seen black men shot at
from behind in the warm months north.

And I think of the fine line—
hairline, eyelash, fingernail paring—
the whisper that separates

obsequious from safe. Armstrong,
Johnson, Robinson, Mays.
A woman with a yellow head

of cotton candy hair stumbles out
of a bar at after-lunchtime
clutching a black man’s arm as if

for her life. And the brother
smiles, and his eyes are flint
as he watches all sides of the street.

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Summer ’16 Student Spotlight

During the Summer 2016 Aisha Gallion, who is double majoring in African American Studies and Anthropology, participated in the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This program is a graduate-level research experience for highly talented undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in pursuing doctorates in the humanities, social sciences or fine arts. Each summer MURAP selects 20 rising juniors and seniors in college to participate in their intensive, ten-week research experience. Aisha decided to research authenticity and masculinity in hip-hop beefs. She specifically, focused on the recent Drake and Meek Mill beef. Aisha submitted a paper titled, “Gettin’ Bodied by a Singin’ Nigga: What’s Really Real? Questioning Authenticity and Masculinity in the Drake and Meek Mill Beef”.  She also presented her work to her cohort and other mentors (professors at UNC Chapel Hill).

African American Studies is very proud to share the exciting news of our majors and the events in their lives.

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The passing of Dr. Conseula Francis, Professor and Associate Provost

Some words from Brian McGee, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.


Much time will rightly be spent reflecting on Conseula’s many accomplishments at the College.  Like many of you, I mourn her loss as a friend, as a tireless and energetic force working for the good of this institution, and as a constant voice of reason.

Conseula’s talents were many.  She was a formidable intellect who could make a hard day shorter and a difficult meeting easier.  There was no burden she could not lighten, no path she could not straighten, by applying her unique combination of good humor and keen insight.  Conseula was patient when patience was productive, impatient when action was needful.

Conseula first came to the College of Charleston as Assistant Professor of English in 2002.  In 2007, she was appointed Director of the African American Studies Program and played a critical role in the growth of the program and the development of the African American Studies major.

Conseula’s scholarly work focused on American and African American literature, with a more recent focus on romance novels and popular fiction.  In 2011, Conseula earned the College’s highest honor as an instructor, the Distinguished Teaching Award.

As Associate Provost, Conseula had essential leadership responsibilities for the College’s curriculum and for our complex web of obligations to accreditors and to state and federal agencies.  We are a much better university because of her good work.

More information about Conseula’s career was posted earlier this morning on Yammer by Professors Claire Curtis and Larry Krasnoff, along with their first thoughts on Conseula’s passing.

Dr. Scott Peeples, Professor and Chair of the Department of English, has offered the following reflection: “Conseula’s humor, her candor, and her dedication to students inspired us all in the English Department and across campus.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a teacher whose classroom instincts were as strong or who had the kind of impact she had on students.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard or read the words `changed my life’ in reference to Conseula’s teaching.  The word `passion’ is a little over-used these days, but Conseula had more of it than anyone I’ve ever known, for her students, her family, her friends, and for life itself.”

To Conseula’s family and friends I can only convey my sorrow at this profound loss.  Our community has lost one of its great voices.


Brian McGee
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
College of Charleston
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
o 843.953.5527
f 843.953.5840

To assist the family going forward, college savings funds for Conseula’s and Brian’s daughters, Frances and Cate McCann, are now being established.

To contribute to those funds, please send a check made out to “Future Scholar 529 Savings Plan.” In the notes section, please write “50% Frances, %50 Catherine McCann.” That will ensure that the funds can be split between the two accounts. Checks can be sent to Larry Krasnoff in the Department of Philosophy, College of Charleston, Charleston SC 29424. Feel free to forward this notice to those who might also want to contribute.

Future Scholar 529 oversees the South Carolina 529 college savings plan. If you are a South Carolina resident, your contribution is fully deductible on your South Carolina state income tax return – even if the beneficiary is the McCann children rather than your own child. No federal tax deduction is permitted for this contribution.

Please share your condolences in the in comment section below.

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AAST Faculty Respond to the Attack on Emanuel AME Church

On June 17, 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church was the site of an act of vicious, racist terror.

We, along with our families, friends, and neighbors, are grieving, and we speak the names of those we’ve lost:

Cynthia Hurd

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Tywanza Sanders

Ethel Lance

Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor

Susie Jackson

Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr

Myra Thompson

As scholars of African American history, culture, and experiences, we remain committed to activist scholarship and we insist that #BlackLivesMatter. We believe that the wrongs of the past can be made right, but only if we are willing to confront those wrongs with courage and honesty. We stand with others in our community, including Governor Haley, in calling for the removal of the confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. We also, though, remind our community that this act alone will not dismantle the legacies of slavery Jim Crow that remain with us, including a segregated school system, significant income disparity, and police harassment and brutality.

We have been moved and encouraged by the show of support, sympathy, and unity in the days following the murders. We look forward to continued support and unity as we work for much needed change in this place we call home.

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Dedication of Little Free Library, North Campus Tomorrow!

Posted by: Joey | May 5, 2015 | No Comment |

Please feel free to drop by the North Campus Wednesday May 6 at 9:30 AM, for the dedication of ourLittle Free LibraryThe Library was built and donated by Charleston resident Fred Herrmann, and School of Education, Health and Human Performance professor Tracey Hunter-Doniger helped Memminger Elementary 6thgrade students design and paint it in the style of artist Jonathan Green. The two lead student artists will attend the dedication.



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Brandon Chapman to Attend Ralph Bunche Summer Institute at Duke University

Originally Posted by: wichmannkm | April 24, 2015

Brandon Chapman Photo

Political Science and African American Studies Double-Major Brandon Chapman will attend the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI) at Duke University. This intensive five-week program is named in honor of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former American Political Science Association (APSA) President, Ralph J. Bunche. The competitive program introduces doctoral study to undergraduate students from under-represented racial and ethnic groups.

Dr. Hollis France encouraged Brandon to apply during his junior year. “Brandon struck me as a ‘go getter’ and I thought this kid is going to go places,” Professor France noted. She added, “Brandon’s acceptance places him in a very elite group of minority political science students from around the country. He will be in classes with a diverse student body. Students are drawn from small liberal arts schools, master’s level institutions like CofC, and doctoral granting universities.  RBSI also brings in students from historically black colleges and universities and Ivy League institutions. This program works to increase the number of minority students attending Ph.D. programs and ultimately joining the ranks of academia.” Professor France speaks from experience as she also attended RBSI as an undergraduate student and credits the program for giving her the confidence to pursue a Ph.D.

Brandon is looking forward to making the most of this opportunity to develop the writing skills necessary for graduate school and meet top political science students around the country. Brandon said RBSI will encourage him “to do better, study harder, and buckle down.” He also hopes the institute will help him narrow his focus as he is also considering law school and community organizing. Brandon is especially interested in race implications on political institutions.

While he attributed his double major and spring internship with the Office for Institutional Diversity as factors in helping him stand out among other applicants, Brandon mainly emphasized the help he received from Professors John Creed and Hollis France on his personal statement. He noted that they were “very instrumental in securing this great opportunity” because they assisted him with revisions and met with him frequently throughout the application process.

For more information on the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, please visit

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