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Confronting Charleston’s Past, Honoring Ancestors and Allies

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

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

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