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About the Center

The study of slavery and its legacies has long engaged faculty, students, and staff at the College of Charleston. The Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston supports these ongoing efforts as well as more ambitious programming promoting in-depth and honest accounts of slavery and its legacies, particularly in the Charleston area. The College of Charleston’s affiliation with over 40 other universities in the Universities Studying Slavery consortium will be a source of new ideas for collaborations within and beyond the institution.

College of Charleston students and faculty are engaged in this work within programs across campus, including History, English, African American Studies, Art and Architectural History, Historic Preservation and Community Planning, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Teacher Education, Southern Studies, Religious Studies, Music, Political Science, Archaeology, Anthropology, Sociology, Jewish Studies, the Charleston Jazz Initiative, the First-Year Experience, and the Sustainability Literacy Institute.

Our campus’ unique archival materials and built environment afford rich opportunities for research. Dozens of historic buildings on the school’s campus, containing a wealth of historical material, are inspiring students and faculty to research the individuals who constructed them, including enslaved laborers. Avery Research Center, a highly significant archive and community leader housed in another historic structure, works to “collect, preserve, and promote the unique history and culture of the African diaspora, with emphasis on Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry." The College’s Addlestone Library houses the school’s Special Collections and the South Carolina Historical Society collection, both containing extensive archival material documenting the history of slavery in the region. Addlestone’s Lowcountry Digital Library is continuously digitizing more archival materials and creating ambitious open-access online exhibits, such as After Slavery and  African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations.

The Center will promote and further our institution’s public history initiatives related to the study of slavery. For two decades, the Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) has promoted scholarship and public events related to the history of slavery. Recent international conferences include Transforming Public History: From Charleston to the Atlantic World (2017) and Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World (2018).

With direct access to a myriad of resources and historic sites, including the soon-to-be-built International African American Museum, the Center is uniquely positioned to fulfill its mission. We look forward to collaborating with the campus and our community to carry out new programming that will inform and transform the Charleston area and ideas about race in the United States. 

CSSC Leadership

Bernard Powers

BERNARD POWERS, PH.D.
Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston | Professor Emeritus of History
email: powersb@cofc.edu 

Bernard Powers, professor emeritus of history at the College, will serve as the center’s first director. Powers taught in the Department of History from 1992 to 2018, serving stints as department chair and director of the master’s program in history. He has published numerous works on African-American social and cultural history. His book Black Charlestonians: A Social History 1822-1885 (University of Arkansas Press, 1994) won a Choice Award for Best Academic Books. He also co-authored We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel (Thomas Nelson, 2016). Powers is a member of the board of directors of the International African American Museum (IAAM), which is scheduled to open in Charleston in late 2020. He expects the center to develop a close working relationship with the IAAM, with the goal of establishing joint public programs and academic partnerships.

Executive Board

Dr. Shannon Eaves, Assistant Professor of History

Dr. Julia Eichelberger, Professor of English and Director of the Southern Studies Program

Dr. Grant Gilmore, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation and Director of the Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program

Dr. Simon Lewis, Professor of English and Director of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program

Dr. Kameelah Martin, Professor of English and Director of the African American Studies Program

Dr. Patricia Williams Lessane, Executive Director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture and Associate Dean of the Addlestone Library

Ms. Celeste Green, College of Charleston Student Representative

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