Absolute Slaves: Race, Law and Society in Antebellum South Carolina

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By Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate, USC

Today, South Carolina remains one of the most diverse states in the union. According to the 2015 census, nearly 37 percent of South Carolina’s residents identified as a racial minority. Approximately, 28 percent of the state’s population is African American. The state’s racial diversity is grounded in the history of the founding of the colony.

 
Closely linked to the island of Barbados, South Carolina was the only colony where blacks outnumbered whites at the turn of the eighteenth century. The arrival of African slaves and free people of color from Barbados and a limited number of white women in the colony all contributed to a society that was accepting of racial diversity and interracial relationships. Unlike other southern states including North Carolina and Virginia, South Carolina never adopted a one-drop rule and did not have an anti-miscegenation clause in its constitution until 1865.

 
Indeed, South Carolina society had changed by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Racial slavery was embedded in its society and whites viewed slavery as their key to prosperity. What did not change about the state, however, was that as such, South Carolina offers a unique opportunity to study race, law and society during the antebellum period.

 
To learn about the common-law definition of race and how it related to social and political thought on race in antebellum South Carolina, attend Historic Columbia’s Lunch and Learn series from noon – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. This session will be led by guest presenter, Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate at the University of South Carolina and will be held at the Mann-Simons Site located at 1403 Richland Street. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit historiccolumbia.org/BlackHistory, email reservations@historiccolumbia.org or call 803-252-1770 x 23.

 

This article was originally published in the Columbia Star.

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Capital Women: Of Strength, Courage and Wisdom

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This year’s Black History Month recognition comes at an exciting time for Historic Columbia. Only a few months ago, Historic Columbia reopened the Mann-Simons Site with newly installed exhibits, interactive touchscreens, recorded audio and numerous visuals – enhancing the overall experience for each guest. I recently had the opportunity to take a tour and was blown away by the comprehensive updates Historic Columbia had incorporated into the renovation. Each and every display came to life, allowing me to better understand the people, places and stories directly associated with the house I had entered and was exploring. Jubilee09172016byMichaelDantzler-43

Two such women the tour discusses are Celia Mann, and her eldest daughter, Agnes Jackson. Both – and so many more – laid substantial and necessary groundwork for African American women, and African American’s in general. In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to highlight their stories by sharing my tour experience. My hope is that this story will encourage you to visit the site and help further broaden Historic Columbia’s message regarding the importance of history, preservation and progress.

Celia Mann
On the way to the Mann-Simons Site, I made a concerted effort to turn off my normally hectic inner dialogue, so I could fully engage in the experience I was stepping into. Because the site was undergoing a renovation, slated to reopen with new interactive and social components in a few months, I had the privilege of having a personal tour with a few representatives from Historic Columbia. Historic Columbia manages, maintains and preserves five historic landmark sites in downtown Columbia. Starting the tour outside, I was immediately introduced to the woman for whom the site got its namesake. I did not realize at the time, but later grasped, I would forever remember – Celia Mann.

One of the first things discussed was the fact that Celia was once enslaved in Charleston, South Carolina. After managing to purchase her freedom, she, as well as her husband, Ben Delane, left Charleston and ended up settling in Columbia. Around the property were various ghost structures – steel frames outlining and representing buildings her future family members would own and occupy. Hearing this information gave me chills. The will and resourcefulness to not only survive enslavement, but face odds to make a life for herself, her family and posterity better, as a newly freed African American woman in the divided and very broken South, was somewhat unimaginable.

We made our way around the side and then to back of the house, finally stepping inside the site. With the wood beams creaking and cracking under our feet, we started our way through the interior. Period pieces and replica furniture told of times past; simple, yet obviously difficult and constantly trying.
In the front room, I was told of Celia’s profession as a midwife, a position traditionally held in high regard throughout the community. She, for years, cared for the needs of both white and African American families, in addition to caring for her own children and family. I did not say much as we kept moving through the home, but I could not help putting myself in Celia Mann’s shoes. Her strength – mental, physical and spiritual – was endless.

Agnes Jackson
As we walked in the last room on the tour, the conversation shifted to the latter part of Celia’s life and her offspring. I stood there, taking in the information, when one note caught my eye. It made mention of Celia’s passing stating, “The Daily Phoenix publishes note saying: “Death of a Respected Colored Woman—Celia Mann, an old and respected colored nurse, who was present at the birth of many of our citizens, departed this life yesterday.” A flood of mixed emotions came over me when realizing this formerly enslaved woman had finally received the respect she so deserved. A caged song bird for so many years, finds the will to escape, and soar – not because of that recognition or their acceptance, but because she sought better for herself and her family and achieved what so many came up short in trying to do. It was a true testament to her unwavering perseverance.

While Celia had four daughters, the majority of information presented focused on her youngest, Agnes Jackson. Embodying many of the same traits and qualities as her inspirational mother, Agnes, aided Celia and her family on the site we were standing, in downtown Columbia at the corner of Richland Street. A few years prior to Celia’s death in 1867, Agnes moved in to assist with family matters.

Following in the similar business-minded footsteps of her mother, Agnes provided for her family by becoming a skilled baker and a laundress. Standing tall as another example of a fearless, headstrong and determined African American women, Agnes served in all respects of the word as the ‘head of the household,’ raising, shaping and being an example to her six children – one of which, John Lucius Simons, went on in later years to open a thriving lunch counter on the grounds.

Driving home I couldn’t help but think back on these truly phenomenal women. I knew it was grossly unfair for me to compare my life, my current situation and my circumstances to theirs, however my mind wandered there. Could I have done what they did? Endured what they endured? Pushed as hard as they pushed if the roles were reversed? While I’ll never know the answers to those questions, I could say with complete certainty that I was incredibly thankful to know more about what they overcame for me and my family, my future and for those generations to come. Having had that greater exposure to this particular history, I, by principal, could never forget it. It was imperative I remember it and carry it with me each day. After all, I was one for whom these women fought for.

For more information on Historic Columbia events, Black History Month offerings and available home tours, please visit historiccolumbia.org/blackhistory.

Kim Jamieson, Historic Columbia Board of Trustees member

Kim Jamieson, Historic Columbia Board of Trustees member

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What it is about chili?

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By: Lauren Dillon, The Palladium Society

What is it about chili that causes temperatures to rise and elicits such passionate responses? Why do Americans from generation to generation have such a steadfast belief in what is the right and true way to make a proper chili? People throughout history have made their mark on the culinary evolution of this simple dish – from Lyndon B. Johnson claiming no one outside of Texas can make it, to Stephan Crane and O’Henry writing about it, to famous frontiersman Kit Carson exclaiming with his last breath “Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.”

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Join Historic Columbia’s Palladium Society Saturday February 11th at the Music Farm to continue the tradition of perfecting the ever elusive quintessential chili. While South Carolina might not be seen as the hotbed of chili creations it is known for its ability to think outside the box and come up with some creative concoctions. Local ingredients like the Carolina Reaper (the hottest pepper in the world) and a ‘famously hot’ temperament give Carolina chilis their own unique flair. The competition heats up every year as 20 to 25 local cookers compete for different categories – from best vegetarian to hottest chili there is an array of opportunities to show off that Carolina culinary pride.

While local celebrities will be on hand to judge all categories, the people’s choice award comes down to the voters. When you are done tasting and sampling stay around to listen to the live music provided by both the Kenny George Band and the Nick Clyburn Band. Enjoy the all-you-can-drink beer and wines that will be on tap that evening and learn more about the roll that HC plays in creating a stronger foundation for the City of Columbia and Richland County. And if your taste buds aren’t on fire by the end of all that then dig into a heaping bowl of the TPS famous house ‘Godzilla Chili’.

The Palladium Society is a dynamic organization of young professionals that supports the mission of Historic Columbia through educational, social and fundraising initiatives. Now in its 19th year, the Palladium Society’s Chili Cookoff has become one of Columbia’s most popular events, and by attending, not only do you get to enjoy delicious chili but you are also supporting the projects and programs of Historic Columbia, including the rehabilitation and reinterpretation of the Hampton-Preston Mansion. To find out more and to get your tickets online, please CLICK HERE.

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Preservation in a New Era

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by Sean Stucker, Director of Facilities

2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This act of federal legislation helped to codify and to standardize historic preservation in the United States, and it laid the groundwork for additional legislation that was passed 15 years later: the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HRTC). Passed in 1981, it provides an incentive to real estate developers to adaptively reuse certain existing historic structures. According to data from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the HRTC has leveraged more than $117 billion in private investment, has created nearly 2.3 million jobs, and has helped to rehabilitate more than 41,250 historic buildings. In South Carolina, between 2001 and 2014, the HTC created 5,359 jobs, leveraged $316 million in investment and rehabilitated 86 different programs.

Despite its consistent record of delivering reinvestment to America’s cities, the HTC is not immune to the uncertainty accompanying changes in the political landscape. One example of political change comes in the form of various proposals involving tax reform legislation. Some proposals recommend elimination of a variety of tax credits and deductions, including the HRTC, the New Market Tax Credit, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The last two are often used in conjunction with the HRTC to carry out projects in underserved communities and to provide affordable housing.

Most people agree that the current tax code is far too complicated and some level of reform is needed. However, the idea of eliminating an incentive that has year-over-year returned more revenue to the U.S. Department of the Treasury than the value of the credits proffered and that has, in the process, become a driver of downtown revitalization across the country, is shortsighted. The Treasury receives $1.25 in tax revenue for every dollar invested. Since its inception, the HTC has generated $28.1 billion in federal tax revenue for $23.1 billion in federal tax credits. This is an example of the federal government providing a small incentive to spark a very large private sector investment that yields economic activity sufficient to repay the federal investment, and then some.

Moreover, this credit is utilized by homeowners and commercial developers alike and the credits generated are often bundled and syndicated for use by major corporations, including banks and insurance companies. This speaks to the fact that it is a bipartisan benefit and positively impacts entire communities through the investment that it spurs. Restoring historic cores enhances property values and tax bases, creates local jobs and forms the “sense of place” that has become such an important factor in deciding where we live, work and play.

Columbia has grown and thrived in recent years. This growth is due to the focus on a return to our historic commercial cores, including the revitalization seen in the Vista, Main Street, Granby and Olympia Mills and in Five Points, to name a few.

Behind the scenes, the HTC has been working to effect positive changes in historic communities across the nation. Indeed, the recently-opened Trump International Hotel in the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC is a beneficiary of HTCs. Nonetheless, indications are that retaining the HTC will require vigilance and teamwork from the preservation community.

Economic opportunity and prosperity benefit both sides of the political spectrum, and the HTC has decades of positive economic data behind it. Now more than ever, we are fortunate to have organizations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the many local and statewide preservation organizations that constantly work to communicate the importance of the HTC and of other statewide and local preservation incentives.

We encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to support keeping these important preservation tax credits. Our city’s future development and growth strongly depends on these tax incentives. To learn more about Historic Columbia’s preservation efforts and for more reasons why #PreservationMatters, visit us at historiccolumbia.org.

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Caption: The future of the federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC), an incentive that was used in many of the renovations along Columbia’s historic Main Street corridor, is uncertain in changing political landscapes.

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Volunteer with Historic Columbia

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Historic Columbia was founded in 1961 by a group of concerned local citizens who volunteered their time, talents and passion for history in order to save the Robert Mills House and open it to the public. Ever since, volunteers have played an essential role in the organization. Today volunteers lead most of Historic Columbia’s house tours, walking tours and programs. They are instrumental in maintaining the vibrant gardens found on site, executing varied fundraising programs and making special events like The Jubilee Festival of Heritage and Candlelight Tours a success year after year. Needless to say, Historic Columbia wouldn’t be here today without decades of dedicated volunteer support.

Now it is your opportunity to join the legacy of Historic Columbia volunteers. Attend the next session of the Volunteer Orientation on Monday, January 23, 2017 from 10:00am to 12:30pm at the Seibels House, 1601 Richland Street, to learn more about volunteering and how to be involved. Volunteers are asked to commit at least nine hours a month to helping the organization in a variety of positions.

Currently there is there is a great need for Interpretive Guides to learn tours of the newly reopened Mann-Simons Site, which tells the story of the generations of entrepreneurial African American family who called it home. Interested volunteers will need to participate in one of the following all-day training sessions: Monday, Feb. 6, Saturday, Feb. 18 and Monday, Feb. 27. These training sessions will consist of the following: a sample tour of the site, an overview of the family, history of the site, broad topics related to the site- Slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights and Urban Renewal, and a day in the life of a volunteer, which will cover logistics of giving tours and other opportunities at the site. Volunteer training is free.

The gardening program will soon be embarking on several new projects across the grounds, including extensive plant labeling and a restoration of several historic elements on the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion. Come be a part of these great programs! Volunteering with Historic Columbia is a great way to get to know the history of Columbia and Richland County through monthly volunteer meetings that feature visits to local historic sites, guest lectures and in depth discussion on the history of Historic Columbia’s historic sites led by HC staff members. In addition, all volunteers receive a ten percent discount at the Gift Shop at the Robert Mills House, complimentary admission to our historic house museums for yourself and members of your immediate family and a free subscription to Historically Speaking, Historic Columbia’s quarterly newsletter.

Be sure to attend the orientation to get started! Register today to reserve your spot by CLICKING HERE or contact Betsy Kleinfelder at 803-252-1770 x 24 or bkleinfelder@historiccolumbia.org.

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Holiday Object Highlight

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Porcelain Doll

Guest Blogger: Catherine Davenport Flowers, Curatorial Assistant
As a graduate assistant at Historic Columbia, I have grown attached to a trove of old treasures. I recently lifted one object out of its case for our holiday exhibit: a doll whose delicate frame has somehow managed to stand the test of time. Her dark hair and rosy cheeks remind us that the houses of the past were home not just to adults, but also to children. Their story is as much a part of our history as that of their parents.
Maybe you received a porcelain doll growing up, only to be exhorted by your mother to handle it gingerly. Today, these fragile things are meant more for admiring than for playing. But this German figurine made in the mid-1800s has a more durable construction. In the 19th century, only a doll’s head was porcelain; the body was made of cloth stuffed with sawdust, resin, or cotton. The composition made the doll lightweight and sturdy in small hands.
The doll in our collection is a precursor to Barbie and other fashion dolls that would evolve well into the 20th century. She came bundled with a wooden trunk containing another gown, tiny socks, shoes, and a straw hat. Dolls also presented an opportunity for girls to hone their needlework skills by sewing new garments for the toys from spare fabric. In changing outfits, young girls of means used the doll to embody their own understandings of womanhood and refinement.
If the 19th century doll in our collections has lasted over a century, perhaps yours is still around somewhere, too—waiting someday to be treasured.
You can see this porcelain doll and other Christmas gifts of times gone by at Historic Columbia’s Hampton-Preston Mansion and Robert Mills House, decorated for the holidays until December 31. For images of the houses decorated for the season, CLICK HERE.

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The Perfect Gifts for Everyone on Your Holiday Shopping List

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 ‘Tis the season to be jolly, so why is it that the days leading up to Christmas are often times more stressful than merry?

You’ve given your boss a “#1 Boss Award” mug two years in a row, your spouse has everything and the thought of shopping for your in-laws actually sends a shiver of terror down your spine.

We understand your holiday shopping can be agonizing, so that’s why this year we’ve done all the work for you! The Gift Shop at Robert Mills has the perfect items for everyone on your list. Yes, even for your in-laws.

1.    For Dad 

Palmetto Neckties + Cufflinks 

Most dads could use a style upgrade. This Christmas, Palmetto neckties and cufflinks will be the perfect update to Dad’s wardrobe!

2.    For Mom 

State Shaped Tray with Palmetto Wine Glasses

Mom deserves to relax, so give her a reason to unwind with a bottle of wine. Place Mom’s favorite wine on our woven South Carolina shaped tray, add our Palmetto wine glasses and get Mom relaxing in style!

Palmetto and Gamecock Jewelry

Our #1 rule for shopping for Mom? Jewelry is always a good idea. Choose from our Gamecock and Palmetto necklaces, bracelets and earrings (or all three!) and give Mom a gift that’s at the top of her list.

3.    For the In-Laws 

Palmetto Fabric Basket Filled with Delicious Southern Treats

We’ve created the perfect gift to please even the pickiest in-laws. Fill one of our gorgeous, woven Palmetto baskets with irresistible treats, like Braswell preserves, Taste of the South candied pecans and Olde Colony Bakery cookies. With this gift, you’ll keep your in-laws (and their stomachs!) happy.

4.    For Your Boss 

Palmetto Wine and Cocktail Glasses

Yes, even your boss likes to have fun. Give your boss the gift of a good time with Palmetto wine and cocktail glasses!

5.    For the History Buff 

Remembering Columbia by John Sherrer

Remembering Columbia explores South Carolina’s capital city from its early years through the mid-20th century. This intriguing story will be the perfect piece for any history buff’s coffee table.

6.    For the Foodie 

Palmetto Farms Aromatic Rice and Stone Ground Grits + One Big Table Cookbook

Give your foodie friend new cooking inspiration with our One Big Table cookbook and supply local, top quality ingredients with Palmetto Farms Aromatic Rice and Stone Ground Grits… The recipe possibilities are endless!

7.    For the Local Lover  

Handmade Cork or Cotton Wreaths

Update your local lover’s holiday wreath this season with a one-of-a-kind, handmade cork or cotton wreath. These wreaths are made locally and are a unique twist on traditional holiday decor.

Essentially Southern Handmade Soaps

Made in Charleston, Essentially Southern soaps offer a wide variety of scents, and these handmade soaps are the perfect item to help you create a “Spa Night” gift basket for your local lover!

8.    For the Kids 

Santa’s Holiday Letter Kit

Create an unforgettable Christmas for your little one with Santa’s Holiday Letter Kit. Featuring a letter to and from Santa, a magic key that allows Santa to deliver presents to your home and a coloring book, this kit is full of Christmas magic!

Stop by the Gift Shop at Robert Mills and receive 20% off your purchase and a free gift with any purchase of $25 or more now through December 24! And be sure to check out all the other #HistoricHoliday activities we have at Historic Columbia during the season!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Historic Columbia!   

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In Full Bloom: Hampton-Preston Garden Dedication

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In 2006, friends of Historic Columbia, Kelly and Keith Powell, lost their first newborn child, Henry Michael Powell. The couple’s tremendous loss inspired them to imagine a place of joy to help them remember the happiness their son brought them during his brief life. Thus, the idea for a memorial and children’s garden at the Hampton-Preston Mansion was born.

In partnership with Historic Columbia, the Powells launched plans for the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden in 2010. The Powells’ purpose for the garden was twofold; they not only wanted to establish a creative space but also a place that allowed for quiet reflection.

Six years later, the Powell’s idea is in full bloom. hc30

On Sunday, Oct. 16, Historic Columbia hosted a special reception, bringing families and supporters together, to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the garden rehabilitation at the Hampton-Preston Mansion.

The occasion marked an important milestone – the ribbon cutting of a new gazebo funded by Joe and Patricia Powell, which is the main focal point of the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden.

The Powells wanted Henry’s siblings to have a place to visit that was established as a celebration of their brother’s life and to see first-hand how his life had inspired the creation of a place filled with laughter and learning.

The Powells’ vision has come to life. hampton preston gazebo

As a result of a major transformation project, the first phase of the Hampton-Preston Mansion garden rehabilitation is complete with a stunning welcome gate and garden, a replica of the Hiram Powers Fountain and now, a Children’s Garden featuring an incredible gazebo mimicking the arches and curves of nearby live oak trees.

The Powells regularly visit the gardens with their daughters, Annalise and Isabel, and they, along with Historic Columbia, invite you to also explore the gardens to experience their beauty and remember the life of Henry Michael Powell.

This short video played at the dedication ceremony.

 

Please CLICK HERE for more images from the dedication ceremony.

The gardens at the Hampton-Preston Mansion were made possible by the generosity of the Powell Family, as well as valued Historic Columbia Donors. The gardens are maintained by Historic Columbia. In total, Historic Columbia’s properties include more than 14 acres of landscapes, featuring gardens that range from an expansive park-like setting with an elaborate formal garden to a traditional 19th-century swept yard. Historic Columbia’s gardens are historically informed and make up the largest public green space in Columbia. The gardens are a free and open to the public.

Visit historiccolumbia.org to learn more.

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Acclaimed Author Dick Lehr in Columbia

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Dick Lehr at the Woodrow Wilson Family Home

September 25

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

HC Members Only

Free

On September 25, Historic Columbia is pleased to host a members’ only reception for Dick Lehr at the Woodrow Wilson Family Home.  Lehr’s book, The Birth of a Nation:  How a Legendary Filmmaker and Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War, is an outstanding counter-history of the reaction and impact of one of early cinema’s most famous films.

Attendees will be invited to tour the Wilson Home to better understand the connection between the 28th president and the incendiary film.  The author will sign books, which will be available for purchase on site. Please contact reservations@historiccolumbia.org to confirm your attendance.

In addition to the September 25 event, Historic Columbia and the History Center at USC are co-sponsoring a public talk on the book, with film clips from The Birth of a Nation, at the Nickelodeon Theater on September 26 at 7 p.m. This is a free event, but there is limited seating and reservations are required.

Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of a Nation

As a college professor, Woodrow Wilson wrote, “Reconstruction is still a revolutionary matter…..those who delve into it find it like a banked fire.” Reconstruction in South Carolina ended with the election of Wade Hampton as governor in 1876, just two years after Wilson, then known as Tommy, left his family home here in Columbia. Wilson still felt the heat of that “banked fire” in the White House, almost 40 years later. The first sitting president to view films in the White House, in 1915 Wilson viewed The Birth of a Nation, an epic silent film based on a book written by one of his college acquaintances. The Birth of a Nation, set in South Carolina with some scenes in Wilson’s former hometown of Columbia, offered a racist interpretation of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

While watching The Birth of a Nation, would Wilson have recalled his years in Columbia?  What he thought of the film he did not say, leaving historians to interpret the event in a variety of ways. However, by his viewing it the movie’s producers capitalized on the White House connection, claiming the president endorsed it.

Today, the  Woodrow Wilson Family Home, operated by Historic Columbia, is a physical connection to Reconstruction and a window into how this era has been represented historically and how it is remembered to today.  It also allows 21st century visitors to ask important questions about how Reconstruction shaped a boy who would be president. Visit historiccolumbia.org for information on taking a house tour of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home.

More on Mr. Lehr’s book The Birth of a Nation:  How a Legendary Filmmaker and Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War

In 1915, two men-one a journalist agitator, the other a technically brilliant filmmaker-incited a public confrontation that roiled America, pitting black against white, Hollywood against Boston, and free speech against civil rights. William Monroe Trotter and D. W. Griffith were fighting over a film that dramatized the Civil War and Reconstruction in a post-Confederate South. Almost fifty years earlier, Monroe’s father, James, was a sergeant in an all-black Union regiment that marched into Charleston, South Carolina, just as the Kentucky cavalry-including “Roaring Jake” Griffith, D. W.’s father-fled for their lives. Griffith’s film, The Birth of a Nation, included actors in blackface, heroic portraits of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and a depiction of Lincoln’s assassination. Freed slaves were portrayed as villainous, vengeful, slovenly, and dangerous to the sanctity of American values. It was tremendously successful, eventually seen by 25 million Americans. But violent protests against the film flared up across the country.

Monroe Trotter’s titanic crusade to have the film censored became a blueprint for dissent during the 1950s and 1960s. This is the fiery story of a revolutionary moment for mass media and the nascent civil rights movement, and the men clashing over the cultural and political soul of a still-young America standing at the cusp of its greatest days.

“D. W. Griffiths’ 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, may have been billed as the ‘Most Wonderful Motion Picture Ever,’ but to African Americans of the Jim Crow era, it was a grotesque reminder of how invisible their true lives-their history and their dreams-were across the color line. Speaking out against the white-hooded nostalgia the film inflamed, William Monroe Trotter, Harvard’s first black Phi Beta Kappa graduate and a leading newspaper editor, revived a protest tradition that would set the stage for the civil rights movement to follow. Distinguished journalist Dick Lehr’s account of this racial debate is not only enthralling to read; it reminds us of the singular importance of ‘the birth of’ Monroe Trotter.”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

CLICK HERE to become a member of Historic Columbia and enjoy the opportunity to attend events like these in the future!

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Battling Through Time at the Robert Mills House

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This Friday,  the largest water balloon battle in Columbia will take place…with a historic twist at the Robert Mills House and Gardens. From the Revolutionary War, where more battles were fought in South Carolina than in any other state, to today’s modern conflicts, the list of important historical events is long. Countless factors have affected the tactics soldiers use in battle since our nation’s founding. Historic Columbia has organized a unique event to illustrate how battlefield tactics have changed over time.

Image Courtesy of The State Newspaper

Image Courtesy of The State Newspaper

Program participants will take part in three battles representing different time periods, each with an important connection to South Carolina. The “soldiers” will be led into battle by active-duty drill sergeants who will provide rudimentary training on each era’s tactics before leading teams into battle. For the Revolutionary War, individuals learn how muskets used during this time were inaccurate and slow to reload. This caused opponents to move closer to one another before shooting and the tactics often involved firing en masse for a better chance of hitting the enemy. Participants will line up shoulder to shoulder and may only throw their limited number of water balloons when the drill sergeant gives the order to fire.
We then fast forward to World War I, an important moment in Columbia’s history as Camp Jackson (now Fort Jackson) was founded during this war. For this battle, one team will go “over the top” and move across an open area on the grounds to attack another team that is entrenched behind hedges. The defending team will have many more water balloons than the attacking team. People will learn how machine guns, trenches and other technology gave defense a decisive advantage for most of the war. This is what led to the static trench warfare on the Western Front that gives us the familiar images we associate with this conflict.

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The third and final battle to be fought represents the Vietnam-era and the elimination of clear battle lines that defined control of territory. In this battle, buckets filled with water balloons will be placed around the grounds and teams must fight for control of the “supply” points. The battle will likely devolve from well-planned strategies to small groups fighting for control of one or two buckets.
Books, lectures, maps and museum exhibits certainly provide more in-depth information about warfare in the past, but this event will draw participants who may not normally visit museums or consider themselves history buffs. Our goal for this event is to whet the appetite for folks who have a diverse range of education and careers to go out on their own and to learn more about the past. Over 1,700 water balloons will fly through the sky in three battles designed to educate the public on fighting techniques. Without making light of the real life experiences of soldiers in the past, this event engages the public in an active, outdoor educational setting during the famously hot summer days in Columbia.

CLICK HERE to find out more information and to register for this epic Happy Hour Water Balloon Battle. The 2016-2017 Happy Hour Series is generously sponsored by Land Bank Lofts.

This article was originally published by The Columbia Star.

 

 

 

 

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