Penn Center hosts 1862 Circle Gala

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This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Penn School, one of the nation’s most historically significant, African-American, educational and cultural institutions.  In celebration of its founding and in recognition of 150 years of service to the community, Penn Center, Inc. will hold the ninth annual 1862 Circle Gala and Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 28, at The Crowne Plaza on Hilton Head Island.
The 2012 Gala will honor two individuals and one organization for diverse contributions they have made in support of Penn Center:  Louis Dore, John Gadson and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Louis O. Dore: A Beaufort native, Louis O. Dore is an educator, businessman, civic leader, lawyer, historian, and politician. His many contributions to community and state include service as chairman of the South Carolina Board of Education. There he worked with leaders and legislators to pass the Education Improvement Act which funded remedial education programs and statewide pre-school kindergarten. He has been a friend of Penn Center dating from his work in the 1970s with the Black Land Program. Mr. Dore was a member of the Board of Trustees for more than eight years.  He also advised Penn Center with legal matters during a critical time in its history, and still provides such assistance.
John W. Gadson, Sr.: A native South Carolinian, John Gadson served as Penn Center’s Executive Director from 1969 – 1976.  Under his leadership, the York W. Bailey Museum was created, and Penn Center’s 50 acre campus was recognized as a National Historic Landmark, one of three in South Carolina. His subsequent professional career in state government and higher education focused on enabling small business ventures throughout the state to compete successfully.  John Gadson says that his philosophy is consistent with that of Penn Center, emphasizing the long-term effectiveness of working with people, enabling them and their communities to affect conditions in which they live.
The University of North Carolina: In 1962, Penn Center first placed its records in the nationally ranked library system of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Housed in the Southern Historical Collection, The Penn School Papers consist of more than 32,000 items, such as Laura Towne’s original 1862 diary, an outstanding collection of 3000 photographs dating from the 1860s to the 1960s, correspondence and financial records from the earliest days to recent years, and audio recordings of meetings, interviews, storytelling, and community sings.  UNC Chapel Hill and Penn Center maintain an active partnership, now working together to improve access to documents through digital technology and online presentation of documents.
The 1862 Circle recognizes local and national leaders who embody the spirit of Penn Center and who serve as advocates for the enduring history and culture of the Sea Islands.
Established in 2003, the 1862 Circle has inducted noteworthy individuals and organizations, including:  Congressman James Clyburn, Congressman John Lewis, Senator Ernest F. Hollings, Courtney Siceloff, Emory Campbell, James Denmark,  Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Jonathan Green, Juan Williams, Phillip Simmons,    Thomas Barnwell, Vernon Jordan, Phylicia Rashad, Mary Inabinett-Mack, Pat Conroy, Roland Gardner, the Penn Club, Inc. and Sankofa Circle.
Historic Penn Center, located on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County is funded through grants and donations only.  The 1862 Circle Gala fundraiser will include fine dining at 7 p.m., with the doors opening at 6 p.m. for live entertainment, a silent auction and a cash bar. Formal attire is preferred.  Reservations are $100 or $150 per person. Event sponsorships are available from $2,500 to $25,000.  For reservations and corporate sponsorship packets, contact the Penn Center at 843-838-2432 or email info@penncenter.com. All proceeds will benefit Penn Center, Inc., a non-profit organization.