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Celebrating Toni Cade Bambara with Linda Holmes

Posted by: wrightd | October 24, 2014 | No Comment |

Blog post by Graduate Assistant Kelly Hogan

"A Joyous Revolt: Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and Activist" by Linda J. Holmes

“A Joyous Revolt: Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and Activist” by Linda J. Holmes

On Thursday, October 9th, Linda Holmes, author of A Joyous Revolt: Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and Activist (2014), gave a presentation at the Avery Research Center on the life and work of Toni Cade Bambara. Holmes first met Bambara while taking one of her poetry classes.  Holmes’ story, “The True Story of Chicken Licken’” was later featured in a book of short stories compiled by Bambara, Tales and Stories for Black Folk.

In her presentation, Holmes provided an overview of Bambara’s life and career. Bambara emerged at the forefront of twentieth century black feminist literary movements in the 1970s. She was part of a new generation of black women who spoke from their own perspectives and experiences. Bambara’s work is deeply rooted in black culture and the culture of Harlem where she grew up. Her most iconic work, The Black Woman, challenged the chauvinism and tackled issues surrounding body image, the economy, politics, and much more. Bambara is celebrated as a transformative and groundbreaking writer.

In her presentation, Holmes described how Bambara always focused on the needs and voices of the collective group, both in the classroom, as well as her life. Bambara encouraged her students to express themselves, to speak loudly and boldly, to be present and to be confident. Holmes played a brief and entertaining clip from one of Bambara’s speeches, which allowed the audience to see just how captivating and charismatic Bambara was.

Holmes’ quoted Bambara in her presentation, and I believe that this quote captures much of what Bambara stood for:

 When Harriet Tubman crossed the border, she might have sat down for a leisurely cup of coffee, might have draped a shawl around her shoulders and settled comfortably into   the hearth-side rocker, humming out the rest of her days. But she didn’t.  She took responsibility for what she knew – that there is no life of honor to the ‘I’ when the ‘we’ are penned up and down pressed.
A Joyous Revolt: Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and Activist



(l-r) Dr. Myrtle Glascoe with Linda Holmes

(l-r) Dr. Myrtle Glascoe with Linda Holmes

(l-r) Dr. Millicent Brown, Linda Holmes, Julie Dash

(l-r) Dr. Millicent Brown, Linda Holmes, Julie Dash

under: Announcements

Dr. Sellers Exhibition Opening at Avery

Posted by: wrightd | October 3, 2014 | No Comment |

Blog Post by Graduate Assistant Kelly Doyle

Poster from Cleveland Sellers Collection

Poster from Cleveland Sellers Collection

On Thursday evening, September 18th, the Avery Research Center celebrated the re-opening of a significant exhibit curated by Mr. Curtis Franks, Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers: The SNCC Years, Coming through the Fire.  Dr. Sellers attended the opening as our honored guest, and spoke about his experiences working with SNCC. During his remarks, Dr. Sellers shared his philosophy concerning leadership and mobilizing within social activist groups, and eloquently conveyed the fear and sacrifice that the fight for Civil Rights required. Dr. Sellers’s words revealed the energy of the Movement in a way that our current social moment would greatly benefit from. The exhibit features letters, photographs, newspaper articles, and ephemera that document Dr. Sellers’s involvement with the 1964 Freedom Summer, marking its 50th anniversary this year. It was a truly unique experience to engage with this exhibit after hearing such moving and enlightening reflections about this period from Dr. Sellers.

Born in 1944 in Denmark, South Carolina, Dr. Cleveland Sellers began his political and social activism at an early age.  As a freshman at Howard University in 1962, Sellers joined the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), a campus student organization, that was designated a “Friend of SNCC” a (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) affiliate. In 1964 Sellers began working full-time for SNCC as an organizer and participant in the Mississippi Summer Project. During this time he registered voters and organized Freedom Schools.  When James Meredith was shot in 1966 in his March against Fear in Mississippi, Sellers joined the movement, along with other activists such as Stokely Carmichael, Floyd McKissick, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to complete Meredith’s journey across the state. In 1967 Sellers was arrested and charged for a variety of offenses in connection with his suspected organization of the protests against segregation in Orangeburg, South Carolina, which came to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre. Sellers was the only person who was arrested and served jail time for the events, and he was not pardoned until 1993. Dr. Sellers now serves as the president of Voorhees College, a HBCU, Denmark, South Carolina.

What I found most poignant were Dr. Sellers’s remarks about the responsibility of the current generation to continue organizing, and his assertion that the fight for change is not yet over in America. Dr. Sellers recalled his experiences with Mississippi families taking him in and providing sustenance during his tireless pursuit for equality during his youth. He emphasized that those individuals, who gave and shared all they could to help him and those like him, were equally important to the cause of civil rights. This is a powerful and timeless message: the fight for social equality can be impacted through seemingly small instances of leadership and sacrifice. This insight impressed upon me the need for a new generation of socially conscious activists to be involved as organizers of a new movement and to generate support for those organizers within the community. As a twenty something myself, I recognize the tendency towards complacency in my own generation, however, as Dr. Sellers stressed, we are in a critical moment which warrants attention and action.


Cleveland Sellers speaking at the Avery Research Center

Cleveland Sellers speaking at the Avery Research Center

James Campbell and Cleveland Sellers

James Campbell and Cleveland Sellers










Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers: The SNCC Years, Coming through the Fire is on display in the Avery Research Center’s Cox Gallery through January 31, 2015.


under: Announcements

The Philip Simmons Collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library

Posted by: wrightd | September 19, 2014 Comments Off |

Blog post by new Avery Research Center Graduate Assistant Kelly Doyle

My name is Kelly Doyle and I am one of three Graduate Assistants that will be working with the Avery Research Center this year. I have had a wonderful first few weeks and I look forward to my time here!

phillip_simmonsWhen I started working at the Avery Research Center, I was almost immediately struck by the Philip Simmons collection, which was donated to the Center by the Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. Simmons was an African-American artisan and blacksmith who specialized in the craft of ironwork in Charleston, South Carolina. As a fellow craft artisan in the      Lowcountry, I felt a strong connection with this collection of Simmons’ personal sketches and artwork.

A deeper look at the newly digitized Philip Simmons collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library reveals Simmons’ impact on artisan and folk art in the Lowcountry region and beyond. The artwork Simmons created throughout his expansive career is displayed worldwide, and now a large collection of his sketches and conceptual drawings are also available to his many fans internationally through the Avery Research Center Collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library. These personal sketches offer insight into Simmons’ unique ability to create pieces of art that are both visually stunning and practical objects for daily use.

This collection is especially interesting within the Charleston landscape because so many of Simmons’ pieces are on display in accessible locations throughout the city. Simmons’ work has greatly impacted Charleston, and viewing these preliminary sketches in conjunction with his finished pieces brings greater perspective to his artistic vision.

The Philip Simmons Collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library http://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/content/philip-simmons-collection
Funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation supported the collection processing, encoding, and
digitization of this collection.

Online exhibition: Keeper of the Gate: Philip Simmons Ironwork in Charleston, South Carolina, Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc., Lowcountry Digital History Initiative

Visit the Philip Simmons House Museum at 30 ½ Blake Street, Charleston, South Carolina

If you are interested in viewing Simmons’ work in Charleston, see the link below for an interactive map connected to an online exhibition about his work in the downtown area.


under: Announcements

Cleveland Sellers: The SNCC Years-Coming Through The Fire

Posted by: wrightd | September 18, 2014 Comments Off |

sellers16x20bOriginally curated in 2009 as part of the Avery Research Center’s traveling exhibition program,  the exhibition, “Cleveland Sellers: The SNCC Years-Coming Through The Fire” will reopen in 2014 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer. Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers was born in Denmark, South Carolina and attended Howard University. While at Howard, Sellers became a member of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), an affiliate of SNCC (Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee). In 1964, Sellers joined SNCC’s Mississippi Summer Project (also known as Freedom Summer) to organize African-American voter registration in Mississippi. Three civil rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner were infamously murdered while working on this project. SNCC members eventually elected Sellers to be their Program Secretary in 1965. Today, Dr. Sellers is the president of Voorhees University in Denmark, South Carolina. This exhibition draws from the Cleveland Sellers archival collection at the Avery Research Center and features letters, newspapers, magazines, photographs, music, broadsides, and ephemera that document the Freedom Summer project. Cox Gallery. Opens Thursday, September 18, 2014 – January 21, 2015.

under: Announcements

The Avery Brown Bag Series

Posted by: battlemp | February 20, 2014 Comments Off |
Brown Bag presentation by Daron Calhoun II, “Politics of Philanthropy: Henry Lyman Morehouse, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Naming of Morehouse College,” Avery Research Center, 22 January 2014. Calhoun is an Avery graduate assistant and graduate student in the joint College of Charleston-Citadel M.A. History program.

Brown Bag presentation by Daron Calhoun II, “Politics of Philanthropy: Henry Lyman Morehouse, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Naming of Morehouse College,” Avery Research Center, 22 January 2014. Calhoun is an Avery graduate assistant and graduate student in the joint College of Charleston-Citadel M.A. History program.

Since September 2013, the Avery Research Center has been proud to host an ongoing monthly Brown Bag Presentation Series. For those not familiar with the format, the idea is to bring your own “brown bag” lunch and enjoy presentations relevant to African American history and culture from local and visiting scholars, artists, and community leaders. The presentation style is often informal, and includes lively discussions with the presenters. Highlights so far have included Dr. Patricia Lessane and Dr. Conseula Francis discussing the 2013 Avery conference Unleashing the Black Erotic: Gender and Sexuality—Passion, Power, and Praxis;  “Black Studies Beyond Ethnography” by Dr. Sabine Broeck; “The Ethics of Conducting Oral Histories” by Eileen Callahan; and “Researching Slavery at the University of South Carolina and Presenting it to the Public: Building the ‘Slavery at South Carolina College’ Website” by Dr. Robert Weyeneth, Evan Kutzler, and Amanda Noll from the University of South Carolina. Most recently, one of our very own Avery graduate assistants—Daron Calhoun—gave a presentation on his M.A. thesis research, entitled “Politics of Philanthropy: Henry Lyman Morehouse, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Naming of Morehouse College.” His work examines the paternalistic leadership of northern missionary organizations who came to the U.S. South to develop African American schools in the decades after Emancipation, and this presentation specifically considered the early development of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and the decision to change the school’s name from Atlanta Baptist College to Morehouse College in 1913. In our next Avery Brown Bag presentation, entitled “The Art of Protest,” local artist Karole Turner Campbell will describe a series of paintings she is developing that are inspired by the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting and the trial of George Zimmerman that took place in June and July 2013. This presentation will be held on February 26th, the anniversary of Martin’s death, from 12-1:15 pm in the McKinley Washington Auditorium.

To learn about upcoming Brown Bag presentations and other public events held at Avery, please see our Winter/Spring Programs calendar at: http://avery.cofc.edu/programs/

If you have questions about the Avery Brown Bag Series, or would like to organize a presentation, please contact Mary Battle at battlemp@cofc.edu

under: Announcements, Events

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