The Life and Lore of Sterling A. Brown: Celebrating Poetry, Prose, and Music

A virtual symposium at Williams College, October 19-21, 2022

The Life and Lore of Sterling A. Brown: Celebrating Poetry, Prose, and Music, will be happening next week, October 20-21, 2022. Keynote speakers will be Dr. Imani Perry and Dr. Paula Giddings. There will also be panel sessions, music performances, a table read from the play “Brown, Sterling” by Vantile E. Harris, and a closing with the Cornelius Eady Trio band. Find out more information about the lineup and to register click here: https://specialcollections.williams.edu/sab/.

Prof. Sterling A. Brown (‘22) was a scholar, educator, poet, critic, and jazz and blues aficionado. Considered the “Dean of African-American Literature,” Sterling A. Brown was foundational in framing the African-American literary tradition, its advancement as a field of scholarly study, and for creating and inspiring discourse around folklore as a Black aesthetic. This symposium is two-fold, as it will mark the much anticipated opening of the Sterling A. Brown papers as well as celebrate his centennial graduation from Williams College. The symposium will engage local communities,  writers,  scholars, and performing artists for a multidisciplinary conversation on Sterling A. Brown and African-American cultural production. 

Serve your community. Become a poll worker.

Our democracy depends on hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who act as poll workers to make sure elections run smoothly and everyone’s vote is counted. But during the pandemic, we’re facing an unprecedented shortage of poll workers that could mean closed polling places and long delays during the November election.

Thus, we urge folk to visit Power the Polls, an initiative to recruit poll workers. Sign up to Power the Polls today, to help make sure we have a safe, fair, efficient election for all voters.

Press Release for 2022 Middle Passage Remembrance Program

“All those Africans in the briny deep. All those people who said ‘no’ and jumped ship. All those people who tried to figure a way to steer, to navigate amongst the sharks. We don’t call upon that power… upon those spirits. We don’t celebrate those ancestors. We don’t have a marker, an expression, a song that we use to acknowledge them. We have nothing to indicate that those are our people and they mattered … we don’t tap into the ancestral presence in the waters.”

––Toni Cade Bambara (1987)

“Spirit of the Dead, rise up and claim your story.”

––From the film Sankofa (1993)

On Saturday, June 11, 2022, The Charleston Branch ASALH Remembrance Committee will host the 25th Annual Remembrance Program on Sullivan’s Island, SC from 9:00am – 1:00pm.

The annual commemoration, held the second Saturday of every June, provides an opportunity for members of African Diaspora communities to collectively remember the countless Africans — men, women, and children — who were kidnapped, sold, shipped and died along the route from Africa to the Americas. We believe that by remembering, we honor and restore the humanity of those nameless, faceless Africans. We continue the process of healing from the fear, pain, guilt and shame of the experience that continues to traumatize the African descended community today. After all, if we don’t remember them, who will?!

We also honor and commemorate those who survived the Transatlantic trafficking of African people and we stand upon their strength, courage and determination to overcome obstacles of enormous magnitude.

The program begins promptly at 9:15am in the Fort Moultrie Auditorium with greetings from ASALH Remembrance Committee Coordinator Regina Williams. Donald West (History & Humanities Department, Trident Technical College, No. Charleston, SC) will speak on the “Middle Passage, Myths and Realities.” The program includes a drum procession to the Beach and back to the “Bench by the Road” for remarks by Charleston ASALH President Jerome Harris, Marcus McDonald (Charleston Black Lives Matter) and from other community members.

At 12:00pm EST, the Libation Ceremony conducted by Yoruba Priestess OsunWonuola EfunLayo, will be held in conjunction with various locations, including: Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; Georgetown, SC; Hampton, VA; New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, CA; Montgomery, AL; Miami, FL; Detroit, MI. Tributes are also held internationally in locations in West Africa, The Caribbean and South and Central America.

The program and gathering is free and open to the public; all who wish to attend are welcome. Attendees are encouraged to bring fresh flowers as an offering and to be dressed in white.

For those unable to attend a scheduled Remembrance/Tribute to the Ancestors program, we encourage you to gather with friends and family and reflect upon the occasion.

  • For additional information, visit Charleston Middle Passage Remembrance on Facebook.
  • Sponsored by Charleston Branch ASALH Remembrance Committee – Website: www.chsasalh.com & The National Parks Service – Fort Moultrie.
  • The Charleston Remembrance Program is a member of the International Coalition to Commemorate the African Ancestors of the Middle Passage (ICCAAMP). Website: www.remembertheancestors.com

Author Talk: A Conversation with Dr. Maxine Smith-Every Thursday starting April 21 at 5:30 p.m.

Join us for a conversation with Dr. Maxine Smith on her book The Midnight Mayor of Charleston (The Henry Smith Story). Like the book and told in six chapters, this discussion series will take place at six different branches with each location mirroring a different chapter and featuring appearances from leaders and members of the community. Space will be limited. Call your branch to register for this event today!

Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth

Ukweli is the Swahili word for truth. This book meets this moment in America as a healing truth to overcome the trauma of slavery and the decades of violence that followed it. The personal accounts and insights from forty-five writers and poets will educate White Americans about the systematic racial bias employed to stymie African American progress.

Ukweli provides insight into the struggles Black people have faced as they’ve made substantial contributions to America, and helped to define its soul. It shows a part of American history often overlooked or misunderstood. Inspired by a poetry, lecture, and dialogue series of the same name organized by poet Horace Mungin in 2020 at Charleston’s McLeod Plantation.

Ukweli, Searching for Healing Truth: Hakim Abdul-Ali • Marcus Amaker • Kim Nesta Archung • Steve Bailey • William P. Baldwin • Al Black • James M. Brailsford III • Millicent E. Brown • Vicki Callahan • Karen Chandler • Portia E. Cobb • Tim Conroy • Sara Makeba Daise • Heather L. Hodges • Damon Fordham • Adrienne Troy Frazier • Herb Frazier • Savannah J. Frierson • Shawn Halifax • Jonathan Haupt • Stephen G. Hoffius • Gloria Holmes • Josephine Humphreys  • Gary Jackson • DeMett E. Jenkins  • Marnishia Jenkins-Tate • Patricia Bligen Jones  • Ed Madden • Susan Madison • Joseph McGill Jr. • Ray McManus • Karen Meadows • Kennae Miller • Horace Mungin • Porchia Moore • Yvette R. Murray • Hampton R. Olfus Jr. • Adam Parker • Bernard E. Powers Jr. • Elizabeth Robin • Aïda Rogers • Margaret Seidler • Teresa Speight • Jennie L. Stephens • Kieran “Kerry” Taylor • Ronda Taylor • LaTisha Vaughn • Marjory Wentworth • Ernest L. Wiggins • Treva Williams

Book talk and signing at The Citadel with Lahnice Hollister

Book talk and signing

Wednesday, March 2
6:30 p.m.
Daniel Library
Free, open to the public

Events honoring Black History Month continue with a book talk and signing on Wednesday, March 2.

The Citadel will host Lahnice McFall Hollister at 6:30 p.m. in Daniel Library.

Hollister, a genealogist and family historian, has published research in national genealogical journals and has received numerous awards for her publications.

Her book talk will focus on her most recent publication: “Resisting Jim Crow: The Autobiography of Dr. John McFall.” McFall was among Charleston’s early Black pharmacists and was the brother of Hollister’s grandfather. Hollister has received critical acclaim from scholars for uncovering this previously unknown manuscript by one of Charleston’s African American healthcare pioneers.

This event is open to all members of the campus community, but space is limited. To register, click here.

Tribute to Liz Alston by Donald West

Liz Alston, educator, historian and Emanuel AME church historiographer passed away on Saturday, February 19, 2022 . She was also once chair of the Charleston County School board. Liz was one of the early advocates for teaching black history in the school system. As an adjunct instructor at Trident Technical College, she was the first to teach black history classes at the college. I had my many experiences and memories of Liz, including our trip to Senegal and The Gambia in 2018. RIP Liz, your pioneering efforts and legacy are well established.

Tribute written by and photos provided by Donald West, CHS Area Branch of ASALH Co-Historian

Charleston Area Branch of ASALH’s former president’s ancestors honored

In October 2021, Charleston Area Branch of ASALH members Julia-Ellen Davis and Vicki Davis Williams visited London, England, to commemorate the blue English Heritage plaque for William and Ellen Craft. During this visit, they were able to for the first time meet face-to-face their British cousins and this meeting is depicted in the image above. All of the individuals are the great, great grandchildren of Ellen and William Craft.

While in London, CBS News-CBS Saturday Morning and British Sky News interviewed Julia-Ellen and Vicki regarding their ancestors, Ellen and William Craft. The CBS Saturday Morning segment aired
in the United States on October 23rd. The interview with Julia-Ellen and her British cousin discussed the importance of London’s historic Blue plaque, which commemorated the work of William and Ellen as abolitionists in the 1800s in Great Britain.

London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

You can find out more about the history of the Craft’s at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, where the family has an archival collection and/or view a selection of items digitally on the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) . Additionally, you can read their autobiography, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, online here.

Presentation of Woodson’s books to the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL)