Tag Archives | Avery intern

Aaisha Haykal: An Introduction

The Avery Research Center is excited to welcome the newest member of our archives team, Aaisha Haykal!  Her profound interest in Avery’s materials and the archival profession in general have already brought a much-appreciated aura of inspiration and enthusiasm to our archives!

Aaisha Haykal

Photo by L. Barry Hetherington


Hello, my name is Aaisha Haykal, and I have been placed at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture for the next nine months as a part of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant initiative that aims to diversify the archival profession. While at Avery I will be processing archival collections and maintaining the Avery blog, as well as re-imagining and updating Avery’s social media presence. One of the goals that I hope to achieve during my time here is to make connections with local African American community organizations to talk with them about the importance of keeping records and possibly donating their records to an institution like Avery. If you know of any organization(s) that need(s) assistance in this area please contact me at haykalan at cofc dot com.

Below is an excerpt from my fellowship application about why I chose Avery and the value that both the collections and the institution has to the community.

I am interested in the Avery Research Center because of its emphasis on preserving the documents that detail the life and organizations of the Black Charleston community and beyond; one can obtain an authentic feel of this history in the city not just in the past, but also in its present state. Furthermore, the exhibits and lectures at the center note that the institution is actively connecting the past and the present, which I find necessary in order to maintain relevancy and to make an impact. From the center’s blog posts I can see that they have recognized the need to open the archive up to the public and I want to continue this endeavor by creating online exhibits and having lectures and workshops that would further increase access to the archival resources. Moreover, to continue the legacy of community advocacy of the center I would be an advocate for community members to preserve their own materials for their personal empowerment and history; the archive and the archivist would be seen as a resource and advisor in this process.

Thus, from this small part of my application one can see that I fully believe in the fact that communities have to be in control of telling their own stories and histories because otherwise what is remembered can be the product of other people’s imaginations. I will be expanding on what I mean about this in my upcoming blog posts, so if you are interested and want to learn more, please come back!

Esau Jenkins and the Progressive Club

This semester, the Avery Research Center has greatly benefited from the services of three interns.  In today’s post, TJ Fielder, a senior and political science major at the College of Charleston, shares some of what he learned as he worked with the Esau Jenkins papers.

History is all around us.  As a student at the College of Charleston, I never took the time to recognize the vast history that surrounds me.  It was not until my senior year at the college that I was granted the opportunity to intern at one of the nation’s most fascinating research centers and archival museums.

The Avery Research Center located in downtown Charleston, South Carolina is the home to many primary artifacts, documents, and oral recordings.  With a huge focus on the Civil Rights Movement, I often found myself reading articles and personal letters and looking through photos that captured many of the civil rights leaders in that era.  Through the internship and the time I spent at the center, I was able to research the life and contributions of a prominent community leader in the Charleston County Area.  Esau Jenkins broke barriers and paved the way for many in his community to abandon poverty and achieve equality through education.

Esau Jenkins was born in 1910 on Johns Island, South Carolina.  While in the 4th grade, attending Legareville Elementary School, he lost his mother at the age of 9 and had to quit school to bring in money for his family.  He worked in Charleston on a boat, and in 1926, at the age of 16, Esau Jenkins married Janie Elizabeth Jones.  Through this marriage the two had 13 children.  It was the people in his community that motivated him to advocate for change.  Experiencing the poverty and underprivileged people, he took it upon himself to make things better.

Progressive Club vanIn 1948, Esau Jenkins established the Progressive Club in efforts to combat the state of the people living on John’s Island and the surrounding areas.  He knew the importance of citizenship, registration, and voting.  The lack of education within his community was a condition that Jenkins refused to accept for his people.  He sought to teach the people on John’s Island the importance of political education and the value in working together.  He theorized that by being politically educated things can change; his first task was to get the people registered.  In order to get respect and have a voice, one must be a registered citizen.  Through the Citizens’ Committee, he held classes in his bus that focused on the United States Constitution;  in order to be a registered citizen, one must read the Constitution in its entirety.  Jenkins would read to the people and collectively they would comprehend the meaning of the document.

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