Exhibitions in Charleston and Greenville

A couple of great exhibitions of interest to Jubilee Project followers have recently opened in the Lowcountry and in the Upstate.

Here in Charleston, you can take in a remarkable art show featuring the beautiful work of Doris Colbert Kennedy, curated by Jonathan Green. Kathleen Curry in the most recent issue of the Charleston City Paper describes Ms Kennedy’s work as inspired by her reading about quantum physics, but her paintings have nothing of the academic about them beyond their titles: they are characterized as Curry writes by “rich, multi-layered colors” and have a vibrancy and movement that makes them feasts for the eyes.

The show, which also features work by Alvin Staley and Amiri Farris, is on display at Charleston’s City Gallery at Waterfront Park–surely one of the most beautifully situated art galleries around–and runs from January 25th through March 9th. For further details, call the gallery at 843-958-6484. You can read the City Paper‘s preview here.

For those in the Upstate, Furman University’s Upcountry History Museum, located at 540 Buncombe Street in Greenville, just opened a terrific exhibition entitled “Protests, Prayers, and Progress: Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement.”  The exhibition documents the struggles and victories of upstate civil rights activists of the 1960s.

As the recent Charleston historic marker series indicated, the story of South Carolina’s civil rights movement often gets lost in the broader national narrative.  South Carolinians, however, also did courageous and principled work to integrate this state’s institutions–our schools, our churches, our lunch counters. “Protests, Prayers, and Progress” allows visitors to the Museum to follow the journey of the activists whose commitment and bravery helped to lead Greenville out of the era of segregation.

The exhibition will be on display from January 18th to June 15th. For more details, click here or call the Museum at 864-467-3100.





Filed under: Art Exhibition, Charleston, SC, Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Upcoming Events

The First Desegregation of the University of South Carolina–October 10th, 1873

Michael David Cohen

USC’s First Desegregation, 140 Years Ago

Last month, the University of South Carolina commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of desegregation at that institution. The three African Americans who enrolled there in September 1963 were the first to do so in the twentieth century. Yet they were not the first ever. This month we reach the anniversary of an earlier desegregation attempt at USC. One hundred forty years ago, on October 10, 1873, a state transformed by the Civil War opened its university to former slaves.

Before the Civil War, South Carolina College, as it was known, educated the South’s white male elite. Planters sent their sons to Columbia to study the classical languages and mathematics, knowledge they deemed essential for the region’s economic and political leaders, and to develop relationships with other young members of their class. White women studied at separate women’s colleges. African Americans, nearly all of them enslaved, received no formal education. State law, in fact, made it a crime to teach a black person to read.

The war interrupted the university’s work. Nearly all students had enlisted in the Confederate military by mid-1863; that summer, the army took over the campus as a hospital. When the school reopened in January 1866, now renamed the University of South Carolina and reorganized into eight schools teaching liberal and professional subjects, most of its students were Confederate veterans. All, as before, were white men.

But change was brewing. Reconstruction soon came to South Carolina. Emancipated and enfranchised blacks, now the majority of the state’s voters, in 1868 elected a Republican and black majority to the state legislature. These lawmakers tried to use their new power to bring true freedom and equality to former slaves. They created the Land Commission, for example, to help the poor purchase land. They tried to ban discrimination in public accommodations, though whites in the state senate managed to defeat that bill. And these fights were not happening in the state capitol. Wartime damage had rendered it unusable. Instead, they were meeting in the USC chapel. White students, fearful of the legislators’ efforts, sat in the gallery watching their state get remade.

Soon the Republican politicians turned their attention to the university around them. The legislature passed and, on March 3, 1869, the governor signed a law banning racial discrimination in admission. That was a key legal step. But it had no immediate result. The trustees and the professors, many of them holdovers from the antebellum college, made no evident effort to recruit African Americans. Four years after the law, not one had enrolled.

In fall 1873, the legislature tried again to spark change: it appointed a black majority to the board of trustees. Now the university began responding. The medical school, created after the war and less mired in antebellum tradition than USC’s other units, acted first. It enrolled Henry Hayne, South Carolina’s African American secretary of state, in its program. Hayne became USC’s first black student. His admission aroused anger both outside and within the university; four professors immediately resigned. But the trustees defended the medical school’s decision—and took it further.

On October 10, 1873, the trustees defended Hayne as “a gentleman of irreproachable character, against whom the said Professors can suggest no objection except . . . his race.” “This board cannot regret,” they continued, “that a spirit so hostile to the welfare of the State, as well as to the dictates of justice and the claims of our common humanity,” had left USC with the four professors’ resignations. The university, they declared, “is the common property of all our citizens without distinction of race.” (Minutes of the Board of Trustees, University of South Carolina Archives)

This declaration, published in the local newspaper, transformed the university. It had, until recently, been a cultural training ground for white slaveholders. Now the trustees wanted it to bring educational opportunities to former slaves.

The trustees understood that, if they wanted blacks to study at the university, an administrative fiat was not enough. People only a dozen years out of slavery had neither the educational background nor the money needed for a traditional college education. The trustees tried to overcome both impediments. To educate ill-prepared students, they created a preparatory school—a high school—within USC. To accommodate poor youths, they eliminated tuition and made dormitory housing free. A new scholarship program even awarded monthly stipends to those students who performed best on a written test; in 1874–75 the state spent over eleven thousand dollars on fifty-seven scholarships.

Reforms in admission were not limited to race. Anxious to train teachers for South Carolina’s expanding primary and secondary schools, the legislature created a normal school—a teacher-training institute—on the Columbia campus. Unlike the rest of the university, the normal school admitted women. For the first time, USC was open to blacks, to the poor, and to women. Its leaders were trying to make the public university truly a university of the people.


(Students of the State Normal School at the University of South Carolina, c. 1875. None of the students are identified. The man on the right may be Mortimer A. Warren, principal of the normal school—uncertain, but likely. Photograph used with permission of University of South Carolina Archives.)

They succeeded. Many poor black men enrolled, often beginning in the preparatory department before advancing to the university proper. Only seven African Americans entered the classical collegiate program the first year, but the next year the freshman class blossomed to twenty-nine. Black women enrolled in the normal school. Some black alumni later used their education to begin prominent careers. George Murray, for example, became a teacher, author, and congressman. James Durham became a physician and secretary of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

As blacks came, whites left. Few of South Carolina’s white men were willing to study alongside blacks. Those who did stay, clearly a pro-Reconstruction lot, got along well with their new classmates. White and black students did not share rooms, but they did study and socialize together. Meanwhile, another professor left and the trustees fired three more—presumably owing to their attitude toward or treatment of black students. The trustees replaced one of them with Richard Greener, Harvard’s first black graduate and now USC’s first black faculty member. Reconstruction had brought African Americans to the university as trustees, students, and faculty.

Of course, this story did not end happily. A second desegregation was needed at USC because the first one had failed. In 1876–77, aided by massive election fraud, white Democrats won back control of South Carolina’s government. Calling themselves “Redeemers,” these politicians rolled back the Reconstruction reforms. They closed the state university, then reopened it in 1880 as the South Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanics—an all-white institution. Furthermore, because the normal school did not reopen, the new college was also all male. No more women enrolled until 1893; no more blacks, until 1963.

The Redeemers, though, did not undo every Reconstruction innovation. They restored the university’s all-white and all-male student population, but they did not restore tuition. Black Republicans had made USC free to promote the education of former slaves. White Democrats kept it nearly free—students now paid a ten-dollar matriculation fee and the cost of room as well as board—to enable poor whites to attend. Ironically, then, Reconstruction’s legacy at the University of South Carolina was the expansion of access to more white men. Expanding it beyond them would take another civil rights movement.

Michael David Cohen, assistant research professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is author of Reconstructing the Campus: Higher Education and the American Civil War and coeditor, with Tom Chaffin, of the newly released Correspondence of James K. Polk, volume 12, January–July 1847.

Filed under: Jubilee Project

USC Commemorates 1963 Desegregation

The focus of the Jubilee Project shifts to Columbia today, September 11th, as the University of South Carolina begins its year-long commemoration of its desegregation in September, 1963. For an article on the commemoration, check out the State newspaper here.

The University’s official web-site listing all the commemorative events is here.

Filed under: Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Jubilee Project, Upcoming Events

Lift Every Voice Project to Host National Forum to Address the Challenges of Preserving and Teaching the History of the Civil Rights Movement

Lift Every Voice will bring together experts and stakeholder communities to address the challenges of collecting, archiving, presenting, and teaching the history of the civil rights movement. The national forum, with support from The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will take place on May 14-18, 2013, in Columbia, South Carolina, and will result in a collaborative model and action agenda for libraries, museums, archives, and stakeholder communities which will be disseminated nationally.
There is a pressing need to collect and preserve South Carolina’s untold civil rights stories before a generation passes into history. South Carolina played a significant but largely unknown role in the civil rights movement. Time is of the essence in documenting the stories of elderly participants. Moreover, it is critical to help the next generation appreciate the struggles and the triumphs of this extraordinary period in our nation’s history.
The four-day national forum will bring together librarians, archivists, digital media specialists, members of the civil rights community, scholars, and educators to:
a. Develop a collaborative model for collecting, preserving, presenting, and teaching oral histories and artifacts related to the civil rights movement.
b. Develop a plan for utilizing the collaborative model to collect, preserve, present, and teach civil rights oral histories and artifacts in South Carolina.
c. Further develop the network of civil rights librarians, archivists, historians and other scholars, and educators in South Carolina to facilitate collection, preservation, presentation, and teaching of oral histories and artifacts.
At the end of the forum we will disseminate the collaborative model and information about the South Carolina plan to the civil rights and scholarly communities, including a national media release, a panel at a major national conference, and announcements through national e-networks for scholars, educators, and civil rights organizations.
The Lift Every Voice project will place learners at the center and support engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.

For more information, visit Lift Every Voice’s website.

Filed under: Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Jubilee Project, Upcoming Events

Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley issues apology to the students of desegregation

Nancy McGinley recently issued an apology on behalf of CCSD at College of Charleston’s commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the desegregation of South Carolina public schools, asking the first students of desegregation for forgiveness for the mistreatment they suffered during their education.

To read the Post and Courier’s full article, click here.

Filed under: Charleston, SC, Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Jubilee Project

Join CofC for a worldwide celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

On April 16th, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his Letter from Birmingham Jail, participants worldwide will read King’s Letter in celebration. Participants will host public readings from the Letter at various locations around the globe: libraries, museums, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, temples, work places, public parks, bookstores, street corners, coffee shops and anywhere people want to participate. Join the celebration! This event is sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library.

Locally, the event will take place at Cougar Mall on College of Charleston’s campus at 1:30 pm.  For more information, click here.  See you there!

Filed under: Charleston, SC, Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Jubilee Project, Upcoming Events

Summary of “The History of Education and the Black Freedom Struggle”

The College of Charleston and the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance was proud to host a series of talks on the history of education and the black freedom struggle on February 20th and 21st, “The History of Education and the Black Freedom Struggle: Resistance, Desegregation, and the Continued Struggle for Quality Education.” The lecture series featured renowned historians Dr. James Anderson and Dr. Christopher Span of the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. The lecture series addressed unfulfilled promises of the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision and the pressing demand for quality education and the continued need for continued educational reform in Charleston and across the country. This extended lecture series generated an important discussion about how the community can move forward in providing a quality education to all students.

Professor Christopher Span provided a thorough analysis of the achievement gap, the statistical differentiation in academic achievement between white students and students of color. His talk, “Addressing the Achievement Gap: Understanding Educational Inequality in American Education” also analyzed how the history of segregation continues to impact the quality of education in schools failing to meet the needs of all students. His analysis looked toward an intra-generational approach to understanding the achievement gap in an attempt to move away from the language of failure that stigmatizes many students of color.

Professor James Anderson addressed the role of Affirmative Action in educational policy at colleges and university in his talk, “Affirmative Action and the New Color Line: Fisher v. University of Texas and Public Discourse about Race in Educational Policy.” Anderson has served as an expert witness for the Supreme Court in the Michigan cases and shared his insights about why this policy is considered controversial and why it continues to be challenged today. His talk encouraged institutions like the College of Charleston to continue to promote diversity through institutional policy aimed at not only recruiting but retaining higher levels of enrollment among studnets of Color.

The series also included a panel discussion with some of the first students to desegregate Charleston area schools. Dr. Millicent Brown, Ms. Clarice-Hines-Lewis, and Ms, Oveta Glover spoke about their experiences desegregating Charleston Country School District in 1963, nine years after the Brown decision. Minerva King also spoke about her experiences as being the first plaintiff on the case that eventually desegregated the schools in Charleston. Mrs. Joann Howard and Mrs. Alifay Edwards recounted their experiences desegregating Mt. Pleasant area schools as well. Memories of the historic desegregation of South Carolina public schools illustrate both the promises and problems of civil rights era educational reform. In commemoration of the historic desegregation of public schools, Dr. Nancy McGinley, superintendent of the Charleston County School District, concluded the panel discussion by issuing a formal apology to the panelists. Dr. McGinley then read a proclamation from Mayor Joseph P. Riley declaring February 21st as “School Access Toward Equity Day.” The transcript of the apology and proclamation can be found below.
The discourse generated around issues of educational reform and continuing the movement to provide a quality education to all students continues today. The Charleston County School District is hosting the students who desegregated Charleston schools on April 12. The College of Charleston continues to engage in the important work of educational reform. Please contact Jon Hale for more information, halejn@cofc.edu (843)953-6354

Transcript of the Apology for Desegregation and the Proclamation of School Access Toward Equity Day, as read by Dr. Nancy McGinley, February 21, 2013:

“Thank you Dr. Howard and thank you to the College of Charleston for hosting this event. This event for me, and I’m sure for many of you, is both a wonderful and a sad event to attend and an emotional story to listen to. And in my nine years here in Charleston, six as superintendent, I have read many books about segregation. I have read the very, very painful school board transcripts. I have seen some of your pictures and I have been enormously saddened by the pictures that I saw of you walking into James Simmons for the first time, with your father I believe. The fear in your face, what courageous children you were, I am honored to meet you finally face to face. So today before I read the proclamation I want to say that this is a day of reconciliation, as they say in South Africa. And reconciliation begins with an apology. And on behalf of the Charleston County School District, I want to say, we were wrong, we discriminated against children, represented by these ladies here today. We treated you badly. We will do better. We must do better. But let give you something that you’ve waited 50 years for, and that’s a personal apology.

Whereas in the 1950s, the State of South Carolina constructed over 200 “separate but equal” schools for African Americans, also known as equalization schools, in anticipation of a judicial order from the Supreme Court to desegregate; and

Whereas, the State of South Carolina stalled and avoided the process of desegregation until 1963 despite the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to do so; and

Whereas in 1963, Millicent E. Brown, as chief plaintiff, and Cassandra Alexander, Eddie Alexander, Gerald Alexander, Ralph Dawson, Jacqueline Ford, Barbara Ford, Gale Ford, Oveta Glover, Clarisse Hines, and Valerie Wright, as co-plaintiffs in a case against Charleston County School Board District 20, were the first African American students to desegregate South Carolina’s public schools; and

Whereas 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the pioneering act of these brave “first children”, many of whom have yet to be personally identified or publicly recognized, who courageously entered segregated schools alone or in small groups because the forces of history demanded that young African American children carry forth the struggle for a quality education; now

Therefore, I, Joseph P. Reily, Jr. Mayor of the City of Charleston do hereby proclaim February 21, 2013 as School Access Toward Equity Day.”

Filed under: Charleston, SC, Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Jubilee Project

Recap of the Tenth International CAAR Conference

Reflections on Dreams Deferred, Promises and Struggles: Perceptions and Interrogations of Empire, Nation, and Society by Peoples of African Descent
The 10th International CAAR Conference

Like all CAAR conferences, the 10th biennial conference in Atlanta provoked deep analysis of the cultural, emotional, mental, and socio-economic state of Black people throughout the African diaspora. Spanning a wide array of topics, the papers made us laugh, cry, strategize, and ponder deeply the importance of our work as scholars, teachers, and what Toni Cade Bambara called “cultural workers.” Indeed, the inaugural CAAR conference in the US accomplished its mission, and thus was a watershed moment in this important year that commemorates such important milestones in the African American historical narrative—the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th years anniversaries of the March on Washington, the death of W.E.B DuBois, and the desegregation of South Carolina public schools.

Filed under: Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Emancipation, Jubilee Project

Penn Center’s “Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement” by Natalie Daise

“Tribute To The Civil Rights Movement” by Natalie Daise

Date: February 28, 2013 Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Event Description“Tribute To The Civil Rights Movement” by Natalie Daise on February 28th 6-8 PM at Penn Center’s Darrah Hall.  Natatlie Daise will perform a soulful tribue to the Civil Rights Movement.
Visit the York W. Bailey Museum to view “Civil Rights Throught The Lens of Cecil Williams following the performance and enjoy light refreshments.
Puchase Advance Tickets By February 18th:  $18.00/Adult & $9.00/Student
Tickets For Sale At Event: $25.00/Adult & $10.00/ Student
Tickets Include Museum Entry

Filed under: Charleston, SC, Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Jubilee Project, Upcoming Events