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USCB to teach “America’s Reconstruction” to educators

The University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB), in partnership with the City of Beaufort, Penn Center, and the University Of South Carolina College Of Education, will host 30 K-12 teachers from around the country for a three-week summer institute beginning in mid July. The institute, “America’s Reconstruction: The Untold Story,” will guide the educators through more than a century of American history—from the final years of the cotton kingdom in the South, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and up to the modern civil rights era.

Gantt Cottage was used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a retreat during his many sojourns at Penn Center.
Gantt Cottage was used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a retreat during his many sojourns at Penn Center.

The institute is funded as a result of a $200,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant awarded in 2014 to J. Brent Morris, Ph.D., assistant professor of history in the Department of Humanities and Fine Arts at USCB.

Serving as the institute’s director, Dr. Morris’s research and academic interests involve Nineteenth Century United States History; South Carolina History; Slavery, Abolition and Antislavery; the Civil War and Reconstruction; and African-American History. He is the author of Oberlin, Hotbed of Abolitionism: College, Community, and the Fight for Freedom and Equality in Antebellum America, which has been nominated for the prestigious 2015 Gettysburg College/Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and Gilder Lehrman Frederick Douglass prize. His second book, Yes Lord, I Know the Road: A History of African Americans and South Carolina 1526-2008, with Documents, is forthcoming from USC Press in 2016. Dr. Morris also provides exhibit guidance to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Reconstruction is known for the federal government’s attempts to grant equal rights to former slaves as well as the political leadership of African-Americans in the former Confederate States,” says Dr. Morris. “Reconstruction actually began in Beaufort County in 1861, the first year of the war, and, though the era fell short of many Americans’ expectations, it laid much of the groundwork for the ‘Second Reconstruction,’ or the Civil Rights Movement, of the 20th century.”

Nationally renowned American history scholars are scheduled to teach the courses. Along with Dr. Morris, instructors for the institute include Pulitzer Prize winning historian Eric Phoner, Ph.D., of Columbia University; Lemoyne College professor and author of The Wars of Reconstruction Douglas Egerton, Ph.D., distinguished Clemson University professor Orville Vernon Burton, Ph.D., USCB distinguished professor emeritus Lawrence S. Rowland, Ph.D.; and Director of the Parris Island Historical Museum and USCB faculty member Steve Wise, Ph.D.

Taking place on the USCB Historic Beaufort Campus, institute participants will review the exploits, writings, and influences of key Reconstruction figures, as well as the ideologies that motivated them. Each week, new themes will be studied and examined including the importance of the Sea Islands in South Carolina and Georgia. Additionally, participants will hold classes at locations tied to the weekly themes in order to help them gain a better understanding of the issues and to personalize the story.

“Demonstrating how that history has been influenced by events and personalities originating from the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia is an important aspect of the summer institute,” says Dr. Morris. “It will be a critical piece to learning and understanding more about one of the most neglected and misunderstood periods in our nation’s history.”

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