Penn Center lecture series to open with Robert Smalls — The Inside Story

4 mins read

The York W. Bailey Museum at the historic Penn Center will launch the Hastings Gantt Reconstruction Era Lecture Series with a special presentation, “Robert Smalls — The Inside Story,” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The Hastings Gantt Reconstruction Era Lecture Series aims to provide a deeper understanding of how individuals, organizations, and even schools like Penn School, contributed to our nation’s, and especially Beaufort County’s Reconstruction era history, beginning in 1861 and lasting through 1898.

During this historic period, our nation began to work on strategies on how to integrate the newly freed African Americans into every level of society.

The lecture series is named in honor of Hastings Gantt, an unsung hero of the Reconstruction Era and formerly enslaved man from St. Helena Island, who once owned the 50-acres of land known today as Penn School National Historic Landmark District, and sold it to Laura Towne, who founded Penn School in 1862. Gantt later served in the South Carolina Legislature at the same time as Congressman Robert Smalls.

The story of Smalls’ bold conquest of freedom and his groundbreaking legislative and business career is growing in stature. A number of new books have come out in the last few years and major motion picture projects are currently in development.

For the first time though, hear the inside story of the life and times of Robert Smalls. Exclusively at Penn Center, Smalls’ great great grandson, Michael Boulware Moore, shares family stories and never before shown family pictures that present even greater detail about the person Congressman James E. Clyburn calls “the most consequential man in South Carolina history!”

Michael Moore is the Founding President and CEO of the International African American Museum in Charleston. Located on the spot where almost half of all enslaved Africans brought to America took their first steps, the museum is scheduled to open in 2021 and will be an innovative, informative, and emotionally powerful experience for all.

Moore led efforts to raise over $100 million in capital funds, the curation and design of the museum experience, the architecture and landscape design, the hiring of a world-class leadership team, as well as the creation of national and international awareness of the museum. During his presentation, Moore will share many family stories and why Penn School was so important to the Robert Smalls family.

“Robert Smalls — The Inside Story” will take place at Penn Center’s Frissell Community House located at 6 Penn Center Circle West, St. Helena Island. Reserve your seat today by calling 843-838-7105 to pay your admission, or pay on arrival. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for teachers and $5 for students.

For more information on this event, please contact vsmalls@penncenter.com.


What: “Robert Smalls — The Inside Story,” the first in the  Hastings Gantt Reconstruction Era Lecture Series.

When: 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 7.

Where: Frissell Community House, Penn Center, 6 Penn Center Circle West, St. Helena Island.

Cost: $10 for adults, $8 for teachers and $5 for students.

More information: For reservations/tickets, call 843-838-7105. For more information, email Victoria Smalls at vsmalls@penncenter.com.

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