Julian Bond to Speak at College of Charleston — Friday February 7th at 6pm

Although Julian Bond may not get as much press as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Representative John Lewis, et al., he was a seriously important figure during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. Please, if you possibly can, pitch up to Physicians Auditorium on George Street this evening at 6 to hear what he has to say about how far we’ve come in the last 50 years and what still remains to do.


Filed under: Jubilee Project

“Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” — series of events scheduled for North Augusta, SC

If you have family, friends, or acquaintances in the area from Aiken, SC to Augusta, GA, please share the following information.  All events are free.
“Created Equal:  America’s Civil Rights Struggle”
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History have developed this special project as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative in order to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The project is intended to guide public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S. history.
The Nancy Carson Library in North Augusta, SC has been  selected as one of 500 national sites to present a film series and discussions on topics related to various civil rights issues.  Events are scheduled throughout the month of January….. Please click on the link below for more information:  http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs164/1113040920538/archive/1115943439563.html

Filed under: Jubilee Project

Jubilee Project Wrap-up and Future

Jubilee Project wrap-up discussion, College of Charleston, November 19th, 2013.   Pictured (facing camera, left to right): Mike Coker, and Simon Lewis; (with backs to camera, from right to left): Jack Bass, Deni Mitchell, Jonathan Green, and Aurora Harris. On the screen is a map of South Carolina showing all the former rice plantations -- http://www.ricekingdom.com/plantationmap.html.

Jubilee Project wrap-up discussion, College of Charleston, November 19th, 2013. Pictured (facing camera, left to right): Richard Ogden, Mike Coker, and Simon Lewis; (with backs to camera, from right to left): Jack Bass, Deni Mitchell, Jonathan Green, and Aurora Harris. On the screen is a map of South Carolina showing all the former rice plantations — http://www.ricekingdom.com/plantationmap.html.

On November 19th, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in 1863, a small gathering of Jubilee Project stalwarts met at the College of Charleston to discuss where we have been and where we go next.  Emerging from our discussions, we have decided that next semester, Margaret Mauk will put together a physical scrap-book along with a digital version to record as fully as possible the key events of our Year of Jubilee.  If you have physical artifacts–invitations, programs, flyers, newspaper clippings, etc. –that you would like us to include in the scrapbook, please send them to me as soon as possible c/o the Department of English, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424-0001.  Likewise, if you would like to write a report or a review of any of the events that made up the Jubilee Project, or if you would like to write a reflection on the Project, please send those to me via e-mail at lewiss@cofc.edu.  We will offer the physical scrapbook to the Special Collections department of the Addlestone Library for safe-keeping and for use by future researchers, and hope to have the digital version accepted by the Low  Country Digital Library.

During the meeting on the 19th, I referred to a planning charrette held back in 2007, and pointed out that many of the goals identified by that charrette to overcome the acknowledgment gap that exists between public recognition of white and black contributions to local history have been achieved, at least in part. Aurora Harris’s stellar work with the Preservation Society , for instance, made major contributions to publicly acknowledging African American contributions to area history. But there is much more to be done. As such, we decided that one way the Jubilee Project could remain effective beyond this year of multiple anniversaries would be as a kind of clearing-house for all kinds of events to do with emancipation and educational access. Accordingly, I invite you all to keep on sending me details of any events that might be in the spirit of the Jubilee Project in the coming months and years.  I will attempt to maintain a calendar on this blog-site and will continue to make postings to the Facebook page.

Finally, please be on the look-out for a number of ambitious events coming up in the future: the 2015 commemoration of the end of the Civil War (May 1st, 2015?); a major conference on slave port cities and public memory (March 2016); and a conference on South Carolina’s Reconstruction Constitution (March 2018).

In the meantime, if you’re in Charleston this New Year, please do consider attending one of the many Watch Night services, and join us for the annual Emancipation Day Parade.

Thank you all for your support over the last year and for your participation in the Jubilee Project.

Filed under: Jubilee Project

NPR Feature on a Photo History of Slavery in Brazil

While we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Emancipation in the United States, we’d also like to remember that slavery in the Americas did not end completely until 1888 when Brazil finally abolished slavery. Although photographic processes had been around since at least 1838, technological improvements in the later half of the nineteenth-century allowed slavery in Brazil to be photographed in greater detail. However, it was not until recently that the images were enlarged to show the brutal truths of slavery. A new exhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil offers a more in-depth look at slavery through the preserved photographs. NPR recently featured the exhibit on their Morning Edition news program. In part of their interview, Lilia Schwarcz, one of the exhibit’s curators, says that they do not want to only show the slaves as victims.

Machado says many slaves were running away, while others had formed armed bands and were revolting. The enlarged images show the look in the eyes of the slaves. The battle, says Lilia Schwarcz, is very evident.

“They were fighting for their freedom,” she says. “So you have here a discussion about freedom.”

For more information and a video, check out the link here.

Filed under: Jubilee Project

Project Highlights

In preparation for today’s wrap-up discussion I’ve drawn up a list of highlights of the Jubilee Project from September 2012 — the anniversary of the publication of the Emancipation Proclamation — to now — the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. It’s a pretty long list, but I think worth publishing in full.

Jubilee Project—some highlights so far

September 2012—Avery Center Black Power conference

October 2012—College of Charleston Theatre Department, Flyin’ West

–SC State University, Stanback Museum, “Africa Revisited” exhibition

–Upcountry History Museum, “Freedom Stories” mini-conference

November 2012—Penn Center, Annual Heritage Days, 150th anniversary celebration

New Year’s Eve/Day—Watch Night Services; Emancipation Day parade

January 2013—Gibbes Museum, “Witness to History” exhibition

–Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble, “Freedom Rides On” concert

–Clemson University, Integration at Clemson commemoration

–Southern American Studies Association conference

–St. Helena Branch Library, “Reflections of St Helena Island” presentation

February 2013—CSO Spiritual Ensemble, “Ode to the Fisk Jubilee Singers” concert

–College of Charleston, “Unity through Song,” Claflin University Concert Choir

–Magnolia Plantation, ASALH luncheon

–Charleston Stage, A Woman Called Truth

Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, “Heritage Days”

–Clark Atlanta University, WEB Du Bois conference

–College of Charleston, “Education for Emancipation” seminar

–College of Charleston, Nancy McGinley issues an apology on behalf of CCSD at College of Charleston’s “Education for Emancipation” seminar commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the desegregation of South Carolina public schools

–Charleston Preservation Society, Civil Rights Era Panel Exhibit Opening

–Caw Caw Interpretive Center, “Rice and Liberty: The Stono Rebellion”

–Riley Center for Livable Communities, “Tru Emancipation een de Gullah/Geechee Nation”

–Penn Center, “Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement”

March 2013—Agnes Scott College, Collegium for African American Research conference

–College of Charleston, African Literature Association conference (including “I Have Known Rivers” ceremony)

–College of Charleston, “African American Belonging and Tourism Justice” lecture

–PURE Theatre, The Mountaintop

April 2013—College of Charleston/Circular Church, Fisk Jubilee Singers

–Ella Baker Day symposium

–College of Charleston, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” reading

–Lecture by Edna Medford at 77th Annual Meeting of the University of South Carolina’s South Caroliniana Society

–Preservation Society, Thomas Mayhem Pinckney Alliance Reception

–Preservation Society, Modern Civil Rights Era site marker unveiling

–Charleston, Charleston Area Justice Ministry kick-off event

May 2013—Columbia, The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) “Lift Every Voice” forum on collecting, archiving, preserving and teaching the Civil Rights movement

May/June 2013—Mount Pleasant, Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival

–Circular Church/Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Becoming Harriet Tubman

July 2013—Reenactment of Assault on Fort Wagner

–Fort Sumter/Fort Moultrie Trust, Fort Wagner panel discussion

–City of Charleston, Unveiling of plaque commemorating USCT role in Assault on Fort Wagner

August 2013–Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music and Movement Festival 2013

–College of Charleston, Exhibition in honor of WEB Du Bois

–College of Charleston, Commemoration of March on Washington

–Slave Dwelling Project, overnight stay at College of Charleston

–Avery Center, “Unenslaved” exhibition, paintings by Jonathan Green

– Preservation Society, S.H. Kress historic site marker unveiling

September 2013— Claflin University, “From Brown (1954) to Brown (1963) and Beyond:  Challenges of Advancing Educational Equity in South Carolina” symposium

–Preservation Society, Progressive Club historic site marker unveiling

–University of South Carolina, Desegregation Commemoration (including  appearances by Andrew Young, Nikky Finney, et al.)

–McKissick Museum, “If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus” exhibition

–College of Charleston/Middleton Place, Lowcountry Rice Culture forum

October 2013—Preservation Society, Hospital Workers’ Strike historic site marker unveiling

– Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, Passages art show and sale

November 2013—College of Charleston, Gettysburg Address panel discussion

–Avery Center, Slavery at USC presentation

–Penn Center, Annual Heritage Days Celebration, “Eyes Still on the Prize” symposium

–SC State, Civil Rights: Then, Now, and When…?

 Jubilee Project forthcoming events

2014 Brown at 60/ Civil Rights Act at 50

2014    Slave Dwelling Project conference, Savannah, GA

2015 Decoration Day at 150

2016 Port Cities and Public Memory conference

2017 50 Years of Desegregation at College of Charleston

2018 Reconstruction Revisited: South Carolina’s Progressive Constitution (1868)

Filed under: Jubilee Project

150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

At this point, we have posted quite a few videos of people performing the Gettysburg Address. But with today as the anniversary of Lincoln’s speech, we thought Johnny Cash’s more musical interpretation makes for a nice soundtrack to accompany some facts about the Gettysburg Address.

  1. Lincoln DID prepare for his speech. Despite the contrary popular myth, Lincoln had begun researching and drafting his speech before leaving Washington D.C. While he only had a few weeks to prepare, most scholars agree that he did not wait until the train ride to begin considering his remarks.
  2. Lincoln delivered his remarks to a crowd of 15,000 people.
  3. William R. Rathvon is the only known person of that crowd of 15,000 to leave a recording detailing his experience, including a recitation of the address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU6UacteZus
  4. While there are five known manuscripts for the Gettysburg Address, they all contain slight variations so we don’t really know what Lincoln said exactly (but we have a pretty good idea). Most scholars follow the Bliss manuscript as the standard.
  5. Lincoln was not the only person delivering a speech that day; Lincoln was not even the headliner. That honor went to Edward Everett who spoke for two hours that day. Lincoln spoke for a little over two minutes; the standard version of the speech runs to only 272 words.

Filed under: Jubilee Project

Dissing the Gettysburg Address and Regretting It–or Not

A friend has just forwarded me this interesting retraction of a dismissive review 150 years ago of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/15/us/gettysburg-address-editorial-retraction/index.html.
Clearly these editors don’t share the same sensibility as our dearly beloved friends at the Post and Courier in Charleston South Carolina–who saw fit to publish some really pretty obnoxious comments about the GA this Veterans Day–of all days. I won’t honor the piece by re-posting it, but you’re welcome to look it up if you want to see what I’m referring to. If anyone felt moved to write a sharp rejoinder to the editor of the Post and Courier, I would encourage you to do so. Here’s a version of what I sent them yesterday–which may or may not appear:

Dear Sir,

Kirkpatrick Sale may prefer to live in a nation whose watchwords are not freedom and democracy, but I don’t think he’d like it. He may prefer to live in a nation that does not guarantee equal treatment under the law, or aspire to provide equal opportunity for all its citizens, but why the Post and Courier would publish his cynical misreading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is beyond me. Why you should have done so on Veterans Day of all days, the day when we remember American men and women who died in the service of this nation “conceived in liberty” and dedicated constitutionally to the principle of republican government is unfathomable.  To those men and women who answered the call of the United States and went to war secure in the belief that they were risking their last full measure for principles of freedom and democracy nowhere so memorably and definitively expressed as in the Gettysburg Address, Mr Sale’s sophistry is nothing short of an insult.

Simon Lewis

Filed under: Jubilee Project

Gettysburg Address Panel Discussion, College of Charleston, Monday, November 11th, 2013

With a little help from our friends in the Bully Pulpit series on political communication, the Jubilee Project held its final public program of the year: a panel discussion of the historical meaning and contemporary significance of the Gettysburg Address.  Congressman James L. Clyburn, Professor Vernon Burton (Clemson University), and Professor Brian McGee (College of Charleston) gave brief presentations that assessed Lincoln’s celebrated remarks from a political, historical, and rhetorical standpoint, respectively, before the floor was opened for questions and answers. For me, one of the strongest points made was Professor Burton’s that in 1863 there was no guarantee that by the beginning of the 21st century, Lincoln’s faith in freedom and democracy might have become so ubiquitous. Lincoln’s reference to a “new birth of freedom” should not be understood just in a local context, alluding to the expansion of freedom to those who were unfree in the slave-holding states, but in a global context where the revolutionary 18th-century drive toward republican democracy was in danger of stalling out.  

Much was also made of Lincoln’s Biblical allusions. I would suggest that the Address has in fact become an article of faith in American politics, and stands as a kind of creed in America’s secular political religion.  As such the speech reminds us of the power of ideas, and the necessity for great leaders to find words sufficient not just to express those ideas, but to inspire others to put those ideas into practice.  Without the rhetorical skill of the Gettysburg’s Address, without the soaring oratory of Martin Luther King a hundred years later, who is to say whether the principles of freedom, democracy and equality of opportunity would have been put into practice and given the force of law.

The pictures below show President P George Benson of the College of Charleston with Congressman Clyburn,; College of Charleston theatre professor Joy Vandervort-Cobb reading the Gettysburg Address at the beginning of the event; and the three panelists–Congressman Clyburn, Professor Burton, and Professor McGee.Image



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Video recordings of “From Brown (1954) to Brown (1963) and Beyond” symposium now available

Any academic institution, community organization or interest group that wishes to have a  complete copy of the September 4, 2013 “From Brown (1954)  to Brown (1963) and Beyond:  Challenges of Advancing Educational Equity in South Carolina” symposium held at Claflin University should contact:
Dr. Millicent E. Brown, Project Director,
Somebody Had to Do It Project   milbrown@claflin.edu
803-535-5688   Department of History and Sociology
400 Magnolia Street  Claflin University
Orangeburg, SC 29115
All dvd copies are free, and urged for use in discussions about the historical and present day implications of the statewide desegregation process.

Filed under: Jubilee Project