10 Brown Bag Series: “East Side Story: A History of the Neck in Downtown Charleston,” Susan Williams, PhD, Trident Technical Community College, Avery Research Center, 12-1:15 pm
The East Side, Hampstead, the Neck—call it what you will, this historic Charleston neighborhood includes the site of Denmark Vesey’s African Church; the Cigar Factory (where “We Shall Overcome” was first sung as a civil rights anthem); Hampstead Mall (a favorite spot for African American political rallies and celebrations); master ironworker Philip Simmons’s home and forge; and many other fascinating but lesser-known landmarks. In this presentation, Dr. Susan Millar Williams and her colleagues from Trident Technical College’s Palmer Campus will provide a slide presentation about this dynamic neighborhood’s past, and Trident’s ongoing programs to preserve its history and collaborate with the people who live there. Williams is the author, with Stephen G. Hoffius, of Upheaval in Charleston: Earthquake and Murder on the Eve of Jim Crow.
18 Exhibition Opening: Cleveland L. Sellers: The SNCC Years, Coming Through the Fire, Featured Guest: Dr. Cleveland Sellers, Jr., Cox Gallery, Avery Research Center, 7:00-8:30 pm
Originally curated in 2009 as part of the Avery Research Center’s traveling exhibition program, this exhibition will reopen in 2014 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer. Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers was born in Denmark, South Carolina and attended Howard University. While at Howard, Sellers became a member of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), an affiliate of SNCC (Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee). In 1964, Sellers joined SNCC’s Mississippi Summer Project (also known as Freedom Summer) to organize African-American voter registration in Mississippi. Three civil rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner were infamously murdered while working on this project. SNCC members eventually elected Sellers to be their Program Secretary in 1965. Today, Dr. Sellers is the president of Voorhees University in Denmark, South Carolina, and he will be a featured guest at this opening. This exhibition draws from the Cleveland Sellers archival collection at the Avery Research Center and features letters, newspapers, magazines, photographs, music, broadsides, and ephemera that document the Freedom Summer project. Exhibition open from September 18, 2014 to January 31, 2015.
18-20 Symposium: RESCHEDULED, DETAILS TBA— “The Marrow of Tradition: The Black Film in the American Cinematic Tradition,” Avery Research Center
The 2014 Avery Research Center Symposium, “The Marrow of Tradition: The Black Film in the American Cinematic Tradition,” will screen and highlight the work of African-American filmmakers and generate critical dialogue about the Black film tradition and the salient ways issues of race, class, gender, oppression, resistance, and liberation struggles have historically inculcated in the work of radical pioneers of race film and those that followed in their footsteps. Invited speakers include Julie Dash, Greg Tate, and Mark Anthony Neal. Featured screenings will include Nothing But a Man (1964), to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.
23 Friends of the Library Lecture: “Rice and Ducks: The Surprising Convergence that Saved the Carolina Lowcountry,” Virginia Beach, Avery Research Center, 6:00 pm
In this lecture, local conservationist and author Virginia Beach discusses her most recent book, Rice and Ducks: The Surprising Convergence that Saved the Carolina Lowcountry. Beach’s book is a modern conservation story, rooted in America’s early colonial beginnings and in the ancient bird migrations of the Atlantic flyway. Rice and Ducks considers important interactions between southern plantation owners, the descendants of enslaved Africans, northern industrialists, powerful U.S. Senators, daring scientists, dedicated game managers, media magnates, Trappist monks, and Wall Street financiers that led to significant conservation efforts. These unlikely allies recognized a need to preserve the Lowcountry’s natural bounty in the face of development and industrial growth after the Civil War and into the 20th century. An extraordinary conservation ethos emerged that would result in the permanent protection of more than 1.2 million acres along the coastal plain of South Carolina. Following Beach’s talk, join us for a book signing and view a number of stunning artifacts from local archives used in the creation of Rice and Ducks. Book copies will be on sale the evening of the event; all proceeds go toward the conservation and restoration of migratory bird habitat.
25 Lecture: Annual Ernest Just Prize in Medical & Public Health Research on African-American Health & Quality of Life, “Project DASH: Divas Against the Spread of HIV,” Dr. Ndidi Amutah, Avery Research Center, 6:00pm
Dr. Amutah is the the third annual recipient of the Ernest Just Prize for medical research that impacts African-American health and quality of life. Amutah is a Certified Health Education Specialist, and has taught courses on Program Planning and Evaluation and Minority Women’s Health. She worked as a researcher in community-based research settings in a variety of areas including maternal and child health, health disparities, and HIV/AIDS, and has published and presented on HIV/AIDS and infant mortality in urban communities.
9 Lecture: “Celebrating Toni Cade Bambara: A Life Free of Political and Spiritual Boundaries,” Linda Holmes, Author of A Joyous Revolt: Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and Activist (2014), 6:00pm, Avery Research Center, McKinley Washington Auditorium
Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995) was at the forefront of twentieth century black feminist literary movements. Her 1970 anthology, The Black Woman, challenged the chauvinism of the black community and insisted on allowing black women to speak in their own words. Her writing, film work, and activism amplified the power of black women speaking for themselves and challenged stereotypical black female roles, making Bambara among the first to contribute to the contemporary black feminist movement. In this presentation, Linda Holmes explores how the life and work of Toni Cade Bambara informs contemporary social and political movements that address challenges and opportunities at the intersection of race, class, gender, and spirituality. Throughout her creative career, Bambara wanted her writing and activism to spark transformation. This presentation will celebrate this groundbreaking writer, and offer suggestions for continuing the cultural work that Bambara felt called to do as a black woman, writer, mentor, community worker, and mother.
17 Performance: Fisk Jubilee Singers, 7:00pm, Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting Street, Charleston SC. Co-sponsored by the Avery Research Center and the Colour of Music: Black Classical Musicians Festival
The Fisk Jubilee Singers are vocal artists and students at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, who sing and travel worldwide. The original Jubilee Singers began performing in 1871, and were instrumental in preserving the unique American musical tradition known as Negro spirituals. In 2008, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were selected as a recipient of the 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons of the arts. Today, they continue the tradition of singing spirituals around the world. This allows the ensemble to share this rich culture globally while preserving this unique music. Concert tickets available for purchase HERE from the Colour of Music: Black Classical Musicians Festival. Prices: $20 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students.
23 Brown Bag Series: “The Benefits of Campus Dissent and the Downfalls of Co-opted Diversity,” Kristi Brian, PhD, College of Charleston’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Avery Research Center, 12:00-1:15pm
During the spring 2014 semester, a climate of dissent on campus propelled the College of Charleston onto the pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post and numerous other news sources. Nearly all the reports positioned “diversity” as central to the political battleground. Who supports it? Who is afraid of it? Who doesn’t get it? This Brown Bag conversation will consider how the turbulence of our “Cougar Spring” urged more of us to think critically about the College’s commitment to diversity. Let’s ask ourselves what it would take to create a campus culture in which support for diversity means more than simply celebrating differences or tokening particular identities. How might we assess the beneficial impact of the recent climate of dissent while also facing up to the entrenched social forces that use a superficial rhetoric of “multiculturalism” to gloss over legislative corruption? How do we move away from a culture in which “diversity” is merely a buzzword to one in which oppression is no longer normalized?
6 Panel Presentation: “Performing Antebellum Charleston: Racial Theatrics in the Holy City,” 6:00pm, Avery Research Center, McKinley Washington Auditorium, Co-sponsored by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture and the Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston
This panel considers representations of race and slavery in Charleston, South Carolina’s literary and theater culture in the early 1800s. Scholars Jacob Crane (Bentley University), Douglas Jones (Rutgers University), and Radiclani Clytus (Brown University) will examine works by Mordecai Manuel Noah, Sarah Pogson, and Harriet Martineau to consider how these playwrights and journalists influenced antebellum popular culture—locally, nationally, and across the Atlantic— through their depictions of African American life as well as Jewish identity in Charleston. Panelists will explore Charleston as an actual site of performance, and as an imagined setting for staging popular beliefs about slavery and race in the early republic. Heather Nathans, chair of the Department of Drama and Dance at Tufts University and author of Slavery and Sentiment on the American Stage, 1787-1861 (2009), will serve as chair for this panel.
21 Brown Bag Series: “‘Cullah Mi Gullah,’ Re-Imagining Female Artists and the Sea Islands: Exploring Africanisms and Religious Expressions in Creative Works,” Rebekkah Yisrael, PhD Student, University of Memphis, Avery Research Center, 12:00-1:15pm
In this presentation, Rebekkah Yisrael will discuss her master’s thesis work, which provides a historiography of Africanisms and religious expressions explored in Gullah Geechee literary traditions within African-American women’s fiction, particularly in the works of Julie Dash and Tina McElroy Ansa. This qualitative study of Dash’s 1991 film and novel Daughters of the Dust (1997), along with Ansa’s novels Baby of the Family (1989) and The Hand I Fan With (1996), highlights the sources and influences that these women drew upon from the Gullah Geechee culture and the landscape of the Sea Islands to construct their creative narratives.
20 Roundtable Discussion: “CAFÉ (Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment) and the Struggle for Economic Justice,” 6:00 pm, Avery Research Center, McKinley Washington Auditorium. Details TBA.
MARCH 1 - DECEMBER 21
Africa: Masks, Music & Motion, An Exhibition, The Changing Gallery, Avery Research Center
This exhibition draws from art objects and material culture from various parts of West and Central Africa that have been donated to the Avery Research Center over the past few decades. As one scholar notes, “Looking at an African mask in a museum, stripped of its costume and motionless inside an exhibit case, is in some ways like watching television with the picture tube removed.” In essence, “what one sees is to a greater or lesser degree incomplete, a fraction of what was.” Even so, by observing the masks that remain, one can learn a great deal about all that is missing. For example, in rural villages throughout West and Central Africa, performers use Kifwebe masks during celebrations and ceremonies at different times of the year. The masks and their transforming spirits appear during rites of passage as young men and women enter adulthood. Additionally, they appear at births and funerals, acknowledging the cycles of life. Mask wearers are accompanied by music played on flutes, ivory trumpets, slit drums, thumb pianos and marimbas. The masks, artifacts, and music excerpts featured in this exhibition ultimately afford us an opportunity to highlight diverse traditions in West and Central Africa. Some of these masks and artifacts can also be viewed through the Avery Research Center Collections with the Lowcountry Digital Library.
2014 Juried Art Exhibition: The MOJA Arts Festival, McKinley Washington Auditorium, Avery Research Center
The MOJA Arts Festival: a Celebration of African-American and Caribbean Art, is the City of Charleston’s annual multi-disciplinary festival that celebrates the rich cultures of the African Diaspora. Offering theatre, dance, music, visual arts, films, and lecture events, the MOJA Arts Festival is produced and directed by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the all-volunteer MOJA Arts Festival Planning Committee. The MOJA Festival’s Juried Art Exhibition will be featured in the McKinley Washington Auditorium at the Avery Research Center throughout September 2014.
SEPTEMBER 18-JANUARY 31
Cleveland L. Sellers: The SNCC Years, Coming Through the Fire, Cox Gallery, Avery Research Center
Originally curated in 2009 as part of the Avery Research Center’s traveling exhibition program, this exhibition will reopen in 2014 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer. Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers was born in Denmark, South Carolina and attended Howard University. While at Howard, Sellers became a member of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), an affiliate of SNCC (Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee). In 1964, Sellers joined SNCC’s Mississippi Summer Project (also known as Freedom Summer) to organize African-American voter registration in Mississippi. Three civil rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner were infamously murdered while working on this project. SNCC members eventually elected Sellers to be their Program Secretary in 1965. Today, Dr. Sellers is the president of Voorhees University in Denmark, South Carolina. This exhibition draws from the Cleveland Sellers archival collection at the Avery Research Center and features letters, newspapers, magazines, photographs, music, broadsides, and ephemera that document the Freedom Summer project.
OCTOBER 16 – JANUARY 31
Sweetgrass: A Living Legacy of Family and Community, McKinley Washington Auditorium, Avery Research Center
Originally curated by the Avery Research Center staff in 2009, this exhibition will reopen in 2014 to feature recent acquisitions of baskets made by various African and African American artists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The art of African American basket making in the South Carolina Lowcountry first began with enslaved Africans who arrived through the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the present-day Mano River, Senegambia, and Angola-Congolese regions of West Africa. Today basket makers in both the Lowcountry and various parts of Africa draw from their shared craft traditions to weave works of art from various materials. Items featured in the 2014 exhibition include a new collection of baskets donated by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Alliance that were featured in the Exhibits USA and NEH on the Road traveling exhibition, Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art; baskets made by children from the Lowcountry for the Avery Research Center’s The Next Generation sweetgrass basket making project in 2008; and various sweetgrass baskets from the Avery Research Center archival collections.
2013 Conference: Unleashing the Black Erotic: Gender and Sexuality—Passion, Power, and Praxis
Avery Research Center 25th Anniversary Celebration