The recently unveiled mural of Septima P. Clark in the Education Center at the College of Charleston will serve as a backdrop for a March 28 conversation on the civil rights icon’s life and legacy. A 7:30 p.m. panel discussion at the center will include five contributors to the book “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth” and an archivist from the college’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Ukweli is a collection of essays and poems on the Black experience in America. Georgetown artist Natalie Daise created the 7-foot-high by 30-foot-long mural, “Saint Septima with Carolina Jasmine” in the center’s Septima P. Clark Memorial Auditorium. Unveiled on Feb. 23 in the auditorium’s foyer, the mural features Clark’s portrait in profile and a quote from a 1970 speech: “I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth. We need to be taught to study rather than to believe, to inquire rather than to affirm.
Ukweli, is the Swahili word for truth. The book follows a 2020 poetry-lecture series at McLeod Plantation organized by poet Horace Mungin. He passed away before Ukweli was released in February 2022. The book is a collection of essays and poems from 49 contributors, including Mungin and co-editor Herb Frazier. Ukweli contributors Millicent Brown, LaTisha Vaugh and Karen Meadows will discuss their Ukweli essays and Clark’s legacy.
Brown is co-founder and project director of an oral history initiative to identify the “first children,” like herself, to desegregate previously all-white schools. LaTishais co-founder of E3: Educate, Empower, Elevate LLC, an organization that focuses on equitable outcomes for Black and brown children and families. Meadows, a high school counselor in Guilford County Schools, is an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Avery’s archivist Georgette Mayo will join them. Avery holds Clark’s personal papers.
Savannah Frierson, a Ukweli contributor and Avery’s office manager, will moderate the session. She and Marjory Wentworth, also a Ukweli contributor, will open and close the panel with Mungin’s poems from Ukweli. Wentworth teaches at the College of Charleston.
The event also provides an opportunity to premier a video that honors Mungin’s contributions to poetry and social activism. Charlotte filmmaker Steve Rutherford produced the seven-minute video as a tribute to Mungin, who started writing poetry in the mid-sixties during the genesis of the Black Arts Movement.
In addition to the Septima P. Clark mural, information panels in the Education Center present the periods of Clark’s life. Essays, interviews and a range of primary sources represent the online material the college has posted to tell Clark’s story as an educator and civil rights champion who Martin Luther King Jr. called the mother of the movement.
The College of Charleston has named Anthony Greene, director of the African American Studies Program, as its inaugural Lucille Simmons Whipper Distinguished Professor.
This new professorship was created in an effort to attract and retain top talent from historically underserved groups and to identify faculty members of color at the associate-professor level who are at a point in their career to work toward promotion to full professor so that they may have the time to complete the work necessary for promotion. It is part of an initiative based on one of the cross-cutting themes of the College’s 10-year strategic plan, Tradition & Transformation: the value of diversity, equity and inclusion to make the institution more welcoming to all and more competitive in a changing cultural landscape.
Black Studies scholars often have sought to recover Black voices that have been excluded, marginalized, or erased from mainstream scholarship as a form of reclamation, and as a corrective to research that excludes Black people, and therefore distorts, our understanding of the world in which we live. But what if some of these Black voices don’t want to be found? What claims to privacy do the dead have? This talk offers answers to these questions and will be part of a collection of essays Professor Crabtree is writing on ethical praxis and the craft of writing in Black Studies.
In the early United States, a Black person committed an act of resistance simply by reading and writing. Yet we overlook that these activities also brought pleasure. In her book, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America, Tara A. Bynum tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free. The poet Phillis Wheatley delights in writing letters to a friend. Ministers John Marrant and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw memorialize their love for God. David Walker’s pamphlets ask Black Americans to claim their victory over slavery. Together, their writings reflect the joyous, if messy, humanity inside each of them. This proof of a thriving interior self in pursuit of good feeling forces us to reckon with the fact that Black lives do matter.
–Film screenings begin at 11:00 – 3:00 (see flyer for details)
–3:00pm: A Conversation with Mzee (esteemed & respected Elder) James E. Campbell and Imam Hakim Abdul-Ali.
–4:00pm: Exhibition Opening/Reception “Malcolm X: 50 Years and Counting, The Legacy Continues” featuring materials from the James E. Campbell Collection & from the private collection of Imam Hakim Abdul-Ali.
Panel Presentation moderated by Ramon M. Jackson, University of South Carolina, Avery Research Center, 12-1:15 pm
In this panel discussion, moderated by University of South Carolina PhD candidate Ramon M. Jackson, local scholars and members of the 1955 Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. All-Stars will share their team’s story and discuss its legacy. Once described as the “most significant amateur team in baseball history,” members of this African-American youth baseball team were key figures in an adult-led direct action campaign to desegregate Little League Baseball in the American South. Nearly fifteen months after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that segregated schools were unconstitutional, Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. president Robert F. Morrison entered the All-Stars into the “whites only” Charleston Little League tournament. This action caused a “Civil War” within Little League Baseball, as teams in seven southern states seceded from the national organization and formed a segregated league known as “Little Boys Baseball” (Today known as “Dixie Youth”). Join us for a discussion of this powerful, often overlooked moment in the African American freedom struggle in South Carolina and the nation. To learn more about the Cannon Street All-Stars, visit: www.1955cannonstreetallstars.weebly.com
***Day after this presentation: Unveiling Ceremony for a Historical Marker for the Cannon Street All Stars, Thursday, February 19, 2:00 p.m., Harmon Field (Corner of Fishburne and President, across from Burke High School). Park at Arthur Christopher Gym, 265 Fishburne Street (This is also the alternative site in the event of inclement weather)
Title: New Orleans Revisited: Tourism, Race, and Historical Memory after Katrina
Presented by: Lynell Thomas, UMass-Boston
Date: January 22, 2015
Location: Avery Research Center (125 Bull Street)
Overview: By the eve of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, collective dissent over the slow, uneven and inequitable recovery was displaced by a blitz of favorable media coverage that refashioned a tale of national disaster into a fable of American resilience and rebirth. In this presentation, Lynnell Thomas explores how events, such as the election of a white mayor, the New Orleans Saints’ NFL Super Bowl victory, the critical acclaim and local fandom surrounding the launch of the HBO television series Treme, BP’s tourism promotional campaign following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the positive national attention generated by the city’s neoliberal solutions to public education and affordable housing relied on and reclaimed the racialized tourist tropes central to New Orleans’s place identity. The city’s post-Katrina tourism narrative advances an idea of recovery that obscures painful post-Katrina realities. As the script of New Orleans’ recovery is being written, the city is poised to emerge as an international symbol of rebirth, renewal, and racial unity or a harbinger of the systemic social, economic, and ecological disasters that plague all U.S. metropolitan areas. The nation – indeed the world – is watching (and touring) to see which symbol will win out.
The Aesthetics Work Group, The Avery Research Center, and African American Studies are proud to sponsor a talk by Paul C. Taylor, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Head of African American Studies at Penn State University. Professor Taylor will deliver, “Make it Funky: Or, Music’s Cognitive Travels and the Despotism of Rhythm” at 3:15 on Thursday, November 20 in 235 Robert Scott Small.