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Guest Lecturer: Nathalie Dupree

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | November 24, 2018 | No Comment |

Photo by Heather Moran

Many thanks to Nathalie Dupree, cookbook author and biscuit maker extraordinaire, for spending an afternoon with my Intro to Southern Studies students last week. Her demonstration of biscuit making provided many helpful pointers as well as some delicious biscuits hot from the oven in the kitchen of McAlister Residence Hall.

Photo by Heather Moran

She told students that flour grown in the South is a softer flour, necessary for a tender biscuit. Southern flour brands use names like “Lily White” and “Martha White” to promote their bleached flour, which Ms. Dupree also prefers. (A whole wheat biscuit, something I said I once enjoyed baking, is “an oxymoron.”) Northern flours are better for making bread, whereas all-purpose flours like Pillsbury Gold Medal work for both bread or biscuit baking, but produce a less-than-ideal version of either, according to Ms. Dupree.

The recipe she demonstrated included two parts self-rising Southern bleached flour and one part heavy cream. It’s not just a matter of measuring; flour behaves differently each time, so bakers must feel the dough as it gets wetter, while stirring as little as possible. The best way to do this is to use a large, wide bowl. Ms. Dupree had brought along her own shallow wooden bowl, noting that once upon a time, “Everybody’s grandmother had a biscuit bowl.” She explained that when using soft flour, one can make a well in the flour and pour in the cream, which will sit on top of the flour while the flour is gently mixed from the outside in. Good bakers have a feel for the right consistency of the dough, which takes practice.

Photo by Heather Moran, The College Today

To roll out the biscuit dough, Ms. Dupree used a method she’s developed after traveling to many sites demonstrating her biscuit making. Rather than a rolling pin, she used two flexible cutting board sheets to press the dough to the desired thinness. Next she folded the flexible sheet in half, then again from the other direction, making four layers of dough that could be flattened back to the original thinness with the second cutting board sheet. This should be done at least three times to create layers in the dough.

She baked these biscuits at 450 degrees for 20 minutes before checking on their progress and turning the pan around to get a more even bake. All bakers must learn how their particular oven cooks—no matter how big & fancy, or small and inexpensive, the oven (and the small pan for today’s biscuits could’ve fit into a countertop oven). Only trial and error will enable you to discover the right temperature and time for your home oven.

As students began mixing another batch of dough, Ms. Dupree encouraged everyone not to be afraid of making mistakes at home.. She opined that Southern women, in particular, believe that “they are a failure if they cannot make biscuits the first time. . . People still assume that a woman is born, coming out of the womb, holding a biscuit bowl.”

She advised students to “spend ten dollars on ingredients for biscuits” and make a lot of batches, using different recipes. By the time you’ve used all those ingredients,  “you will make a biscuit that you can live off the rest of your life.”

One final tip: “If you have leftover biscuits, you can melt butter in a pan and fry ‘em up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Courses, Foodways, Students

Check out all our Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | November 3, 2018 | No Comment |

We’ve got a huge array of course offerings that can be counted toward the minor in Southern Studies. If you’re interested in the South, these courses are great opportunities to learn more!

Click here for a pdf of the complete list followed by flyers describing many of these courses.

AAST 280 Intro to African American Music TR 10:50 am-12:05 pm Prof. Mari Crabtree

AAST 300-05  Africana Womanhood and Migration Narratives TR 01:40 pm-02:55 pm Prof. Mari Crabtree

ARTH 338 American Vernacular Architecture & Material Culture MWF 09:00 am-09:50 am Prof. Richard Gilmore

BIOL 301 Plant Taxonomy MWF 11:00 am-11:50 am (Lab M 01:00-05:00 pm) Prof. Jean Everett

BIOL 333 Ornithology F  07:30 am-10:30 am (Lab F 11:00 am-03:00 pm) Prof. Melissa Hughes

BIOL 334 Herpetology TR 10:50 am-12:05 pm (Lab T 12:10 pm-04:10 pm) Prof. Allison Welch

EDFS 201-02-07 Foundations of Education (Multiple Sections)

ENGL 313 African American Literature MWF 12:00 pm-12:50 pm Prof. Valerie Frazier

ENGL 190 Obstinate Daughters: Women and Social Justice in the 19th & 20th Centuries TR 9:25 am – 10:40 am  Prof. Jesslyn Collins-Frohlich

ENGL 350-02 Major Authors: Eudora Welty’s Life and Art TR 12:15 pm-01:30 pm Prof. Julia Eichelberger

ENGL 364-01: Race, Health, and Environmental Justice: The Politics of Housing MWF 1-1:50 pm – Prof. Lisa Young

HIST 217 African American History since 1865 MWF 01:00 pm-01:50 pm Prof. Shannon Eaves

HIST 320 ST: Modern Charleston T 06:00 pm-08:45 pm     Prof. Robert Stockton

HPCP 299-01 Preservation Planning Studio M 02:00 pm-05:00 pm Prof. James Ward

HPCP 299-02 Preservation Planning Studio R 02:00 pm-05:00 pm Prof. James Ward

HTMT 310-01 Current Topics in HTMT: Current Issues in Charleston Tourism W 05:30 pm-08:15 pm Prof. Michael Seekings

LACS 200-01 Special Topics: Talking Trash and Wasting Time: A Carribean Ecology  MWF 3:00-3:50  Prof. Christine Garcia

LING 290 ST: A View of American English Dialects           TR 09:25 am-10:40 am Prof. Elizabeth A Martinez-Gibson

MUSC 222-04 ST: Like a Rolling Stone: History and Development of Rock Music ONLINE Prof. Yiorgos Vassilandonakis

MUSC 365 Ensemble: Gospel Choir TBA Prof. Brenten Merrill Weeks

RELS 298 Special Topics in Religious Studies: Global Evangelicalism MWF 01:00 pm-01:50 pm Prof. Leonard Lowe

SOST 200 Intro. to Southern Studies TR 01:40 pm-02:55 pm Prof. Tammy Ingram

SOST 400 Southern Studies Capstone Proj TR 03:05 pm-04:20 pm Prof. Julia Eichelberger

Additional Special Topics Courses May Be Added As More Information Becomes Available.

Certain Independent Studies and Tutorials May Be Eligible Depending on Their Content.

under: Uncategorized

Revisiting Southern Women and the American Civil War

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | October 3, 2018 | No Comment |

This post is by Kristen Brill, research fellow for the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture,

Author’s photo of Ft. Sumter

My research examines the interplay between gender, race and nationalism on the Confederate home front. This summer, as a research fellow at the Center for Southern Jewish Culture, I extended my frame of analysis to include religion in my study of the wartime South. Specifically, I took a closer look at the role of religion in shaping relations between Union soldiers and southern Jewish women in the occupied South. Then, I adopted a wider-angle approach, using a diverse range of Jewish women’s first-person accounts, to examine the role of Judaism in the social construction of Confederate nationalism and wartime gender identity.

This research interrogates the relationship between Judaism, gender and nationalism on the Confederate home front: How did relationships between Union soldiers in occupied cities and southern Jewish women shape Jewish women’s definitions and experiences of Confederate nationalism? To what extent did Jewish women’s definitions and experiences of Confederate nationalism differ from those of non-Jewish southern women? This is an undeveloped area of the historiography of the Civil War; its inclusion will extend and complicate understandings of marginalization, power and belonging in the Confederacy.

Ladies’ Gunboat Handbill, 1862, South Carolina Historical Society

At the College of Charleston, I also had the opportunity to expand my collection of teaching materials. In my experience teaching in the UK, students better connect with the theoretical concepts and secondary historiography through a thorough engagement with primary source materials. I found several compelling first-person accounts and images that will structure my seminar sessions in the upcoming academic year. In particular, this image of a program benefitting the local Ladies’ Gunboat Association is a rare piece of documentation from the ladies’ gunboat associations that sprung up around the South in early 1862. This image will bring these mid-nineteenth-century organizations into the classroom and allow students to engage with issues surrounding women on the Confederate home front in a more tangible way.

In Charleston, as a researcher interested in southern history, I was *living the dream.* The chance to visit iconic sites in American history, from Fort Sumter to the Lowcountry plantations, complemented my work in the archive and allowed me to fully immerse myself in the landscape and narrative of the history of South Carolina. The opportunity to experience southern culture in Charleston, from the people to the food, was the highlight of my trip. I was met with warmth and hospitality everywhere I went, from the archive to Home Team BBQ. As an academic based in the UK, this research fellowship afforded me a rare opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in the US and complete essential archival research for my project. I am grateful for the generous support of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston, especially the invaluable guidance of both Dr. Dale Rosengarten and Dr. Shari Rabin. This was the highlight of my summer and I hope very much to return soon!

 

under: Civil War, Research Projects, Southern Jewish History, Uncategorized

Why We Need the New Center for the Study of Slavery

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | September 25, 2018 | No Comment |

Claiming Our Inheritance

Julia Eichelberger

This essay was published in the Post and Courier but was originally written for this blog, using the above title.

https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/commentary/commentary-charleston-must-own-its-slavery-wrongs-if-it-hopes/article_38c27ffc-c02e-11e8-af57-3f508a89293e.html

under: Uncategorized

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know it’s been over a year since the dreadful August weekend in Charlottesville where a rally supporting Confederate monuments and white supremacy ended in injuries and deaths.* Charlottesville got many folks thinking harder about what to do with monuments associated with the Confederacy and white supremacist ideology. This week, a Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam” was pulled down by students at UNC-Chapel Hill. The protestors were partly inspired by something found in an archive, and the researcher was Adam Domby, now a C of C history professor.

Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Dr. Adam Domby

Turns out #Archivesmatter. While conducting archival research as a UNC grad student, Domby found a copy of a speech that proved that the Confederate statue was intended to promote white supremacy. The proof was clear; one NC journalist in an August 24 article called the speech a “smoking gun.” (A full account of the statue’s history is in this week’s Raleigh News and Observer.) Julian Carr delivered the speech in 1913, when the statue (funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the university), was unveiled. Carr, who’d been a UNC student before becoming a Confederate soldier, praised Confederate soldiers who “saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South.” Carr told the crowd that when he’d returned from the war, he had publicly “horse-whipped” an African American woman “until her skirts hung in shreds” because, Carr said, she had insulted a white woman (“a Southern lady”). He referred to the beating as a “pleasing duty.”

By Aug. 23, three days after the statue had come down, Domby had already been contacted by at several regional and national journalists.** When we talked, I asked how he’d come across the speech. “I figured, it’s gotta be in the [UNC] library,” he explained. “There’s a ton of folders of speeches if you look at the Julian Carr papers. I just went through them until I found it.” Doing further research, Domby was struck by 1913 news reports on the unveiling of the statue in which this speech got little coverage. “All it got was ‘Julian Carr gave a great speech about the history of the university.’  It was such an unremarkable anecdote–This is about white supremacy and I whipped someone–that they didn’t comment on it.”***

Aug. 13 2018. Photo from WUNC.

Domby decided this information needed to leave the archive and inform contemporary discourse.  “Every decade or so, someone [at UNC] would say, ‘Why don’t we tear down Silent Sam,’ and someone would reply, “It’s not about slavery, it’s about the soldiers, or, the Civil War wasn’t about slavery anyways’–and it was, just FYI. I know you know that, but I always have to make sure I say that,” Domby told me. “And it wasn’t like it was new information to me that these monuments had white supremacist connections; we knew that. But this seemed like a great way to teach people about it.”

After the newspaper published his letter, Domby was contacted by “the nascent student movement” protesting the statue, who wanted to learn more. (“These were undergrads. These were not outsiders,” Domby said. “I was very disappointed as a UNC alum that some people were saying that these protesters were outsiders. It’s like during Reconstruction when people said ‘this is just Northerners manipulating blacks, it’s outsiders.’ It’s the same excuse, and it’s shameful. And it’s a lie.”) Over the next several years, UNC students and faculty began citing Carr’s speech as part of their protests against the statue.  “The different departments that wrote letters saying they supported the student protestors, they all cite the speech. The activists really mobilized the speech in a way that I didn’t expect.”

At the time, Domby had hoped the university would choose to provide a better marker for the statue, making clear why it had been put up in 1913. North Carolina now has a law similar to South Carolina’s Heritage Act, preventing the removal of historic markers or statues without approval by the legislature. Activists had asked that UNC petition the legislature for permission to take the statue down. But little action was taken, and opposition to the statue increased. “The mayor of Chapel Hill wanted it gone. Op-eds, beat poetry, protest, signage, letters to the editor, were getting the word out that this speech existed. It’s a very hard speech to argue against. Carr’s message was that beating this woman was the right thing to do, and he said he wanted the next generation to learn this.”

Domby didn’t plan to inspire a crowd to tear down the statue on campus. “This was not an outcome I wanted,” he said. “I think the university had an opportunity a year ago to move Silent Sam into a museum, or into a cemetery or some other appropriate place where it could be properly interpreted as a product of history, and not a celebration of memory.” But by 2018, “Silent Sam didn’t have the support of the community. That’s something that’s changed in the last few years. When people literally die in Charlottesville and people literally die in Charleston, that shifts the discussion.”

August 21. 2018. Photo from WUNC.

The discussion is ongoing.  On August 23 a member of the UNC Board of Governors announced that within three months, the statue would be reinstalled “as required by state law.” This morning  (August 25) as I was writing this post, another protest was occurring on the UNC campus. As of 2 PM, there have been several arrests, but so far no serious injuries.

As Domby tweeted a couple of hours ago, “Stay safe, UNC.”

 

*ICYMI, attendees at the rally in Charlottesville were partly motivated by the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. They carried torches and chanted “Blood and soil” (a Nazi slogan) and “You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.” One man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, leaving one woman dead and 19 injured; two state police working to maintain order that weekend were also killed in a helicopter crash.

**Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, Raleigh News & Observer, Charleston Post & Courier. I probably missed a few.

***You can now view Carr’s speech yourself in Documenting the American South. An expert transcription by Dr. Hilary Green is here.

under: Markers, Monuments, Racial Disparities, Research Projects, Social Activism in the South, Southern Studies Faculty in the News

Here’s another Narrating the South post, this one by a recent Research Fellow at the College’s Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture, Dr. Josh Furman.

Dr. Josh Furman, Director of Houston Jewish History Archive, Rice University

The devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to Houston in late August 2017 was keenly felt in the neighborhoods of Meyerland and Willow Meadows, which are home to many of the city’s Jewish institutions and families.  In the aftermath of the storm, hundreds of homes in the area and at least three synagogues suffered serious flood damage.  The archival collections of United Orthodox Synagogues (UOS) of Houston and Congregation Beth Yeshurun, which include photographs, synagogue bulletins, board minutes, rabbinical correspondence, and rare commemorative books, were severely affected by the several feet of water that inundated each building.  Additionally, many of the personal possessions of Houston’s Jewish families of interest to scholars, including letters, journals, photographs, and memorabilia, were damaged by flooding and are at risk of being discarded and lost forever.

The study of Jewish life in Houston and South Texas touches on themes of central importance to understanding ethnic history in the United States — immigration, acculturation, adaptation, socioeconomic mobility, and interfaith relations.  At present, unfortunately, the rich history of this Jewish community in the nation’s fourth-largest city remains relatively undocumented, and there are several small South Texas Jewish communities where the need to preserve historical records is urgent.

In the weeks following Hurricane Harvey, together with my Rice colleagues in the Program for Jewish Studies and the Woodson Research Center in Fondren Library, we laid the groundwork to create the Houston Jewish History Archive (HJHA).  The mission of the HJHA is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the documents, photographs, artifacts, and memories that tell the story of Jewish life in Greater Houston and South Texas.

As we approach Harvey’s first anniversary next month, the HJHA is already home to over sixty archival collections.  Our holdings include synagogue and institutional records, such as those of United Orthodox Synagogues and the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, and family records, such as portraits, marriage and confirmation certificates, and correspondence.  Among the most unique and significant artifacts recovered so far is a World War II banner that was made for Congregation Beth Jacob to honor men and women serving in the armed forces.  We also received an Alex Bregman game-used bat from the Houston Astros, an exciting addition to our collection that recognizes the contributions of the team’s Jewish third baseman to last year’s World Series title.

Last month, I had the pleasure of spending several days at the College of Charleston with Dr. Dale Rosengarten, curator of the Jewish Heritage Collection at Addlestone Library, and Harlan Greene, head of Special Collections.  For more than thirty years, Dr. Rosengarten has been working tirelessly to record oral histories and build an archive that preserves the legacy of South Carolina’s Jewish community.  She has spearheaded and collaborated on projects that document the experience of Jewish South Carolinians, from the groundbreaking exhibit and book A Portion of the People (2002), to more recent digital projects such as The Holocaust Quilt, which tells the stories of Charleston’s Holocaust survivor community in an interactive multimedia format.

While shadowing Dr. Rosengarten and her colleagues for three days, I had the opportunity to explore the Jewish Heritage Collection in all its breadth and depth, immersing myself in the audio files, paper archives, and digital exhibits.  More than that, in our conversations, Dale and Harlan generously shared advice on a wide range of topics, drawing on their decades of experience in building collections and processing them, designing exhibits, and winning project grants.  Dale and her staff also introduced me to the latest innovations in technology used to transcribe oral history interviews and make them more useful to researchers.  I came away from my time in Charleston inspired by all that they have accomplished, and grateful to have such talented and passionate partners in the work of documenting local Jewish history in the southern United States.

 

under: Uncategorized

College Joins Consortium Universities Studying Slavery

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | June 7, 2018 | No Comment |

Bravo! C of C has formally joined a consortium of universities committed to studying the interconnections between slavery and their institutions’ histories. Southern Studies faculty have been urging the President and the Provost to join this consortium; of course we’re very happy the College has joined and posted this official announcement on The College Today.

The College Joins Collegiate Consortium Studying Slavery

Below is a statement we wrote about why C of C is joining USS. This is now posted on the USS website (linked in the article above):

“College of Charleston students and faculty are researching slavery and its legacies in departments and programs across campus, including History, English, African American Studies, Art and Architectural History, Historic Preservation and Community Planning, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Teacher Education, Southern Studies, Religious Studies, Music, Political Science, Archaeology, Anthropology, Sociology, Jewish Studies, the Charleston Jazz Initiative, the First-Year Experience, and the Sustainability Literacy Institute. Dozens of historic buildings on the school’s campus, containing a wealth of historical material, are inspiring students and faculty to research the individuals who constructed them, including enslaved laborers. Avery Research Center, a highly significant archive and community leader housed in another historic structure, works to “collect, preserve, and promote the unique history and culture of the African diaspora, with emphasis on Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry.” The College’s Addlestone Library houses the school’s Special Collections and the South Carolina Historical Society, both containing extensive archival material documenting the history of slavery in the region. Addlestone’s Lowcountry Digital Library is continuously digitizing more archival materials and creating ambitious open-access online exhibits, such as African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations.

For two decades the Program in the Carolina Lowcoutry and Atlantic World (CLAW) has promoted scholarship and public events related to the history of slavery. Recent international conferences include Transforming Public History: From Charleston to the Atlantic World(2017) and Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World (2018).

The College’s membership in Universities Studying Slavery will spur us to be more intentional in disseminating our research and in our collaborations within and beyond our institution. More College of Charleston initiatives will be announced in the coming months. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with USS as we continue to develop an in-depth and honest account of our past.”

We’ll be reporting on further initiatives as they develop. I’ll close with the last sentence we wrote for the USS announcement, which did not make it on their website:

As we deepen our understanding of slavery and its continuing impact, we will use our picturesque and historic campus as a transformative, empowering site of education and restoration.

under: Uncategorized

Patricia Ploehn explains her team’s design, “Shrine to African Ancestors.”

In three recent events at C of C, our faculty and students showed themselves to be hard at work exploring the past, telling the truth, and looking for ways to honor ancestors who have often been overlooked or disremembered.

This exhibit consisted of designs created by students in a course called “The Architecture of Memory: Memorials, Monuments, and Museums” that Dr. Nathaniel Walker teaches. After studying a variety of memorial spaces from all over the world, students were asked to design a memorial that could be placed in Marion Square as an answer to the Calhoun statue. Their designs will be on display throughout the summer. Please stop by and prepare to be inspired.

  • A historical marker and portrait honoring Septima Clark were both unveiled on May 3. C of C’s President, Provost, and Board of Trustees chair were all on hand, along with a good many Charlestonians with personal memories of the not-so-distant past when C of C would not admit students of color.

    L-R: Millicent Brown, Mayor Tecklenburg, Dr. Jon Hale, Mr. Nerie Clark & Ms. Yvonne Clark Rhines (grandchildren), Pastor Timothy Bowman, Alexis Lain & Ridge Welch.

    Members of Septima Clark’s family assembled for the unveiling, sharing their memories of her.   Mayor Tecklenburg issued a proclamation honoring Clark. Charleston’s poet laureate, Marcus Amaker, read a poem written for the occasion. A portrait of Clark by Jonathan Greene was unveiled later in the day.

    Attendees included Edith Septima Hale, whose dad, Dr. Jon Hale, taught C of C Teaching Fellows about Septima Clark’s life & work.

    As discussed in an earlier blog post, C of C students & future teachers who admired Septima Clark’s work as an educator and activist conceived of this project and did most of the work and fundraising necessary to make it happen.

  • A great conference took place on campus at the end of April: the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina explored the topic “Memory, Monuments, Memorials.” Discussions of monuments and memorials, how to combat legacies of oppression, and how to confront difficult histories. These were important discussions. You can listen to the sessions you missed here.

More interesting and important things are also happening around the city.

During the past month, the City Gallery has exhibited “WOKE: Rattling Bones, Conversations, Sacred Rites and Holy Places.” In late April, as part of the exhibit’s run, Ade Ofunniyin led a fascinating presentation on the Anson Street Burial Project, which is sponsored by The Gullah Society. The exhibit is over but everyone should know about this ongoing research on the community of people who were buried at the corner of Anson & George Streets.  Also, on May 5, the City unveiled a new historic marker commemorating an event some historians are now saying may be the first Memorial Day, in which freedpeople honored Union soldiers who’d died in a Charleston prison camp & were buried in a mass grave there. The Program in Southern Studies is pleased to see our city beginning to commemorate and confront these significant moments in the life of our city.

under: Charleston, Charleston History, Faculty, Markers, Monuments, Southern Jewish History, Students, Uncategorized

Thanks to the leadership of C of C students, a new historic marker identifying the birthplace of educator and Civil Rights activist Septima Clark will be unveiled at 105 Wentworth Street on May 3. This past week I spoke about the project with Alexis (Aly) Lain, a C of C junior who’s double majoring in English and Secondary Education. Aly and other Teaching Fellows have been working since Fall 2016 to make this happen.

How did you learn about Septima Clark? What gave you the idea of putting up a marker?

Aly Lain

I first learned about Septima Clark when I was in my Foundations of Education 201 class. That class was a lot of fun because I’m in Teaching Fellows and my whole Teaching Fellows cohort was in that class taught by Dr. Hale. When we were looking at the foundations of education, we focused on South Carolina education, and as we were going through the timeline and we reached the Civil Rights era, we started talking about Septima Clark. And Dr. Hale first mentioned that she was born at 105 Wentworth Street which was right around the corner, but there was no marker or anything there for her, and as soon as he said that, he kept going on with the lesson, but someone’s hand went up and said “Wait, what do you mean there’s nothing there?” We were all just so shocked and surprised, and so we talked about that for a few minutes, the way there’s so many people, Clark included, whose names and stories get forgotten.

City Paper photo of Aly and Ridge at a rally in January, speaking about taking inspiration from Septima Clark

After class I remember going into our Teaching Fellows lounge and one of my best friends, Ridgeland, was there, and he said, “Aly, you know, I think we could do it. I was looking it up and I think we could do a marker if we wanted to.” So we got all excited and we called someone, right then and there, Dr. Foley at the South Carolina Historical Society in Columbia. We asked him what would be needed to put up a marker, and told him how wanted to honor Septima, and he seemed interested; he encouraged us. It just became important to us, this woman who was born so close to the Education Center, whose name we see on a street sign, to do something more for her on our campus, something she deserved.

What have you learned from Septima Clark, and what do you want other people to know about her?

I think one thing that draws me to Septima so much is that not only did she serve the Civil Rights movement—in everything she did, she was an asset–but she was also an enabler, an encourager. She did go out and do things, but she also taught others how to follow her, with her work in voter registration and Folk Schools. She was opening up doors for the people around her. It was all about bringing this community forward to make a change.

Aly and Ridge say this is one of their favorite photos of Septima Clark. (Septima Clark Papers, Avery Research Center)

This is one of my favorite quotes from her: “I just tried to create a little chaos. Chaos is a good thing. God created the world out of it. Change is what comes of it.” I just love the fact that she was trying to disrupt this system that was constructed against her from the very start. Just make a little chaos, make a little change.

How did you get the funding for this marker?

We started the first semester of my sophomore year (Fall 2016). The rest of our Teaching Fellows—the way we all rallied together for this project was just astounding and so heartwarming. We first had to collect donations for an initial deposit and send in a draft of our proposal, the text of the marker. Once the idea of the marker was approved officially, that’s when we started the real-deal fundraising, because we were looking at around two thousand dollars. We did a percentage night at Chipotle, raising over $800 at that event, and we also had a lot of different donations. Ms. Jennifer Dane, whom Dr. Hale had met at a conference in Ohio, learned about our project and she was somehow inspired by us (which is in turn inspiring, it’s very cool how these things always inspire people and then you’re inspired, back and forth). She gave us a wonderful donation that allowed us to get that last bit for the marker itself. Also, we’ve been working on a portrait [of Septima Clark] by Jonathan Green. To fund that portrait, our community has really contributed, in a way that’s been very kind.

What’s the significance of Jonathan Green doing the portrait?

In my opinion, there are few people who capture Charleston as well as Jonathan Green does. He really tries to capture Gullah culture—he’s trying to tell the story of people whose stories might not have been recognized and to paint them in a way that represents the creativity and the vitality that they exhibit.

C of C Teaching Fellows, F 2017

Nice work, y’all!

Join Aly and other Teaching Fellows for the unveiling of the historic marker at 105 Wentworth Street. Thursday, May 3, 10 am.

 

 

under: African American Studies, Charleston History, Historic Buildings, Markers, Social Activism in the South, Students, Uncategorized

This year, the series When The War Is Over: Memory, Division, and Healing began as a loose collection of events at the College that focused on painful, traumatic, or shameful histories. How can we collectively remember, understand, and attempt to repair past suffering and injustice? To accompany us on that continuing journey, the When the War Is Over series has a new logo: a new interpretation of a Sankofa representing the College community’s mission of learning from the past.[1]

 

Design by Liz Howell, C of C’s Division of Marketing and Communication

A Sankofa is a pictogram, one of many Adinkra symbols used in Ghana for several centuries. One writer notes that these symbols “can be viewed as a message and a legacy from the dead to the living. They are symbols and forms of teachable knowledge meant to guide the actions of the living as they struggle through this complex world.”[2]

“Sankofa,” translated as “Return and Fetch It,” represents a proverb: “It is not a taboo to return to fetch something you forgot earlier on.” (Se wo were fin a wo sankofa a yennkyi.)[3] There are two versions of a Sankofa pictogram—one a stylized heart shape, and the other a bird advancing forward while its head faces backward to pick up an egg.

In Charleston, an iron sculpture of a Sankofa bird can be seen outside the Unitarian Church on Archdale Street, part of a memorial to enslaved laborers who made the bricks for the church. This iron bird was created in 2013 by ironworkers in the Philip Simmons Studio, where twenty-first century artisans continue traditions that Charleston’s most famous ironworker learned from former slaves,[4] who were continuing a much older West African ironworking tradition.[5] Ironworked Sankofa hearts adorn the steeple of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, a port city where, as in Charleston, many skilled artisans were enslaved people, some born in Africa.

Memorial to enslaved brickmakers, Unitarian Universalist Church, Charleston, SC, 21st century

Spire of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

Philip Simmons gate, 9 Stolls Alley, mid-20th century

 

 

 

Photo by Brian Graves, published in “Interpreting African American History at McLeod Plantation,” Studies in American Culture, Vol. 39, No. 1 (2015).

A Sankofa bird may be glimpsed on James Island at McLeod Plantation. This Sankofa, in fading paint, appears on a wooden sign at the entrance to the cemetery that identifies “The Sacred Burial Site of Our African Ancestors.” In 2015, this sign became infamous after a white supremacist photographed himself in front of it. Weeks later, when this young man murdered nine members of AME Emanuel during a Bible study, he explained his massacre by stating falsehoods about African Americans and our shared history.

We cannot ignore the Sankofa’s message of return and fetch it: we must explore our pasts and recall what some have forgotten. As more events and programs are presented next year under the banner of When the War Is Over, we will display our Sankofa and the Cistern to illustrate our resolve to learn from the past and forge a hopeful collective future.

__________________

Mr. Philip Simmons, Blacksmith, 1995. Avery Research Center & Lowcountry Digital Library. http://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/lcdl/catalog/lcdl:57994

“You know what I be thinking? That someday I’ll be putting some of those things together again. [You] look backward to see forward. To see forward, that’s the question.”[6]

Mr. Philip Simmons, 1992

 

[1] Many thanks to Liz Howell of the College’s Marketing Division for creating this logo.

[2] SAGE Encyclopedia of African Cultural Heritage in North America.

[3] Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University.

[4] In the 1990s, Philip Simmons expressed his admiration for Charleston blacksmiths of earlier centuries, stating, “The old work was good. The scrolls were curved nice and round. If you see it curve like that it’s either two hundred years old or I did it.” (Charleston Blacksmith: The Work of Philip Simmons. John Michael Vlach. U of SC Press, 1992, pg. 32.)

[5] Dr. Ade Ofunniyin, an artist and adjunct professor at C of C who is the grandson of Mr. Philip Simmons, has confirmed that the Sankofa motif is present in the work of Philip Simmon and others, including blacksmith Carlton Simmons, who work at the Simmons Studio. “So much of what Mr. Simmons created was inspired and connected to a ‘rooted’ way of being,” his grandson commented in an email (4.13.2018).

[6] Charleston Blacksmith: The Work of Philip Simmons, Revised Edition. John Michael Vlach. U of SC Press, 1992, pg. 121.)

under: African American Studies, C of C Program in Southern Studies, Charleston History, Events, Uncategorized
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