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Say Their Names

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | June 9, 2020 | No Comment |

C of C’s Program in Southern Studies shares the outrage and sorrow that our community, nation, and world are now expressing in response to the murder of George Floyd and the systemic racism tragically highlighted by his death. We grieve with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and a host of other victims of racist violence. We stand with all who protest these murders and who demand change in policing and law enforcement practices.

Black citizens and Southern studies scholars know that these recent crimes, along with the militarized repression of some protests, are nothing new. Systemic racism was a defining principle in the creation of South Carolina. Thousands of captive Africans who survived the Middle Passage were sold in the city of Charleston. After the Confederacy failed in its goal of maintaining slavery, its leaders designed a postbellum South that required and revered white supremacy. Against this backdrop of trauma and violence, African-descended people created communities, families, social structures, and cultural traditions that now define the region.

None of the things we cherish about the South–our landscapes, our literature, our built environments, our music, our foodways, our religious traditions, our proud history of civil disobedience–would exist without Black labor, creativity, ingenuity—without Black lives.

Within our lifetimes, this city built by slave labor and this College founded to perpetuate a white male elite have made important progress, but we have far more work to do. We are not yet the just and equitable community and the inclusive College that our citizens deserve.

As scholars, teachers, and citizens, we commit ourselves to saying the names of those who have been lost in recent days. We also honor the lives and stories of the many thousands gone, the ancestors whose guidance we need to repair our region. We will seek out and tell the full stories of the South’s complex history. We will call out white supremacy in its many forms, visible and invisible, so that we may begin to dismantle structural racism. If we hope to create true community, we must listen to Black voices and fight for Black lives.

Julia Eichelberger

Director, Program in Southern Studies

Crowd marching past Harmon Field with hands raised

Day 5 of nationwide protests. 2nd protest of day on June 3, 2020, in downtown Charleston.


Marchers on Jonathan Lucas Street

Demonstrators cross Medical University campus, filling sidewalk along Jonathan Lucas Street, 6/3/20.


Demonstrators sit at Colonial Lake

Period of silence at Colonial Lake before demonstration moves to Marion Square, 6/3/20.


under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Charleston, Charleston History, Politics, Racial Disparities, SC, Social Activism in the South, Uncategorized

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