he University of South Carolina Beaufort has scheduled a series of educational, cultural and entertaining activities to commemorate African-American History Month, starting with an opening reception in the atrium of the new Hilton Head Island Campus from 5-7 p.m. on Feb. 1. USCB Chancellor Dr. Al M. Panu will deliver the welcoming address.
The multiple events on all three university campuses are sponsored by South Carolina Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment of the Humanities that promotes exhibits, documentaries, discussion forums and many similar endeavors related to the humanities.
African-American History Month was designated by Congress in 1986 to raise awareness of African-American history, to acknowledge African-American contributions to the American story, and to apply lessons learned from these experiences to future relations among races.
The full slate of events includes a panel discussion exploring the Reconstruction Era from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 6 at USCB’s Center for the Arts in Beaufort and screenings of multiple documentaries.
Dr. Najmah Thomas, assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at USCB and the faculty member for African-American Studies, is hoping for large community turnout for the African-American History events. As chair of the committee responsible for organizing the month-long commemoration, she has a specific goal in mind.
“We want the community to step into the role of cross-cultural ambassadors,” Dr. Thomas says. “We want the community to come in, experience this and say, ‘Oh, that was great!’ But beyond that, to have a more substantial conversation or to carry the current conversation even farther. The intent behind each of these sessions is to push people to a point where they feel both uncomfortable and empowered. Now that you have this information, you can be empowered to do something. Now that you have information about the needs, what can you do? How can you create a better cross-cultural dialogue?”
Feb. 6, 6-8 p.m., USCB Center for the Arts, Beaufort Campus
Faculty-Guest Panel Discussion (J. Brent Morris, Ph.D., Ahmad Ward, Victoria Smalls)
The panel will explore the Reconstruction Era (1861-1872) and the untold narratives of freedom during that period. Dr. Morris, a historian and chair of the Department of Humanities at USCB; Ahmad Ward, executive director of the Mitchelville Preservation Project; and Victoria Smalls, Zinn Education Project Teaching Reconstruction Coordinator, will share their insights.
Feb. 8, 4:30-6 p.m., Library 267, Bluffton Campus
Documentary and Candlelight Vigil (Jack Bass, Ph.D.)
Three young, black students were killed by police gunfire on the South Carolina State University campus on the night of Feb. 8, 1968; 27 others were wounded. None of the students were armed. This presentation includes a viewing of the documentary “Scarred Justice,” a discussion of the events and a candlelight vigil. A USC graduate, Dr. Bass, the discussion leader, is the author of eight nonfiction books about the American South, including “The Orangeburg Massacre.”
Feb. 12, 6-8 p.m., Campus Center 105, Bluffton Campus
“History and Culture in Health Care”
Documentary and Discussion (Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell Harris, (Ret.) U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard)
Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell-Harris rose from humble beginnings on a small cotton farm in Aiken, S.C., to become the first female African-American general in the 357-year history of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. In this presentation, Dr. Trowell (Ph.D.) traces her educational journey and extraordinary service to the field of health care and the military. A screening of “Black Angels” will follow. The Black Angels were a corps of African-American nurses, many from the South, who cared for tuberculosis patients at a hospital on Staten Island, N.Y., from 1913 to 1960.
Feb. 14, 8 p.m.-Midnight, Campus Center 105, Bluffton Campus
“Freedom Ball: Harlem Renaissance”
Formal Dance and Social
The Harlem Renaissance describes a virtual explosion of intellectual, social and artistic expression that centered on the Harlem section of Manhattan (New York City) in the 1920s. It encompassed poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, music, dance and so much more. The African-American Student Association at USCB urges students to don their zoot suits and flapper dresses to reimagine freedom Harlem Renaissance style.
Feb. 20, 7-8 p.m., Campus Center 105, Bluffton Campus
“Poetry and Pancakes”
Spoken Word (Ebony Stewart)
Be provoked, entertained and inspired by spoken word and interdisciplinary artist Ebony Stewart in this presentation sponsored by the Sand Shark Activities Board.
Feb. 25, 6-8 p.m., Newcastle Student Center, Beaufort Campus
A second screening of the documentary about the Black Angels, a corps of African-American nurses who provided health care to tuberculosis patients decades ago, will take place on the Beaufort Campus. Maj. Gen. Trowell-Harris will not appear for the presentation.
Feb. 27, 6-8 p.m., Library 267, Bluffton Campus
“Reconstructing Freedom II”
Student Panel Discussion, Audience Q&A
One of the most popular events of the African-American History Month series, the student panel discussion is an opportunity for a candid, peer-to-peer conversation about difficult and important topics facing the USCB student body and society in general. Prepare to gain new perspectives on freedom.
Feb. 28, 6-8 p.m., Campus Center 105, Bluffton Campus
“Past, Present and Future of the Divine 9; Closing and Call to Action!”
Black Greek lettered organizations known as the Divine 9 have historically supported some of America’s most influential social and political movements. How will they remain influential in the face of America’s most pressing cultural challenges? A panel of campus and graduate chapter representatives explores the role of the Divine 9 in reconstructing freedom.