Critical Conversations at the College of Charleston

This year, our national climate has brought us to a reckoning moment in history, where we are talking deeper about racism, inclusion, and equity. For many, dealing with the effects of systemic racism are a part of everyday life. It is essential that we have honest and productive conversations about race, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the impact not only on individuals, but our institution. 
Visit to view all previous and upcoming conversations and related events.

101 African Americans Who Shaped South Carolina

Dr. Bernard Powers talks his new 101 African Americans Who Shaped South Carolina, the new
International African American Museum, & spiked eggnog at library parties with Curtis Rogers for South Carolina State Library's LibraryVoicesSC podcast!

Race and the Legacies of Slavery at the College of Charleston

October 20 at 3:00 PM EST - Click here to join the conversation online

Join Dr. Benard Powers, Int. CEO International African American Museum, Director for the Center for Study of Slavery in Charleston (CSSC), CofC Professor Emeritus, and national expert on black history, and Dr. Julia Eichelberger, Marybelle Higgins Howe Professor of Southern Literature, affiliate faculty member in African American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, the director of the Southern Studies minor, and a member of the Executive Board for CSSC. The conversations begins at 3:00 PM. You many pre-register or join immediately at the time of the event at the link provided. 


Everyone is invited. This event is open to the entire campus community. 


CSSC’s Commitment to Making #Blacklivesmatter

The Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston (CSSC) stands in complete solidarity and allyship with the families, protestors, and community members grieving and demanding justice for the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery — and our own Walter Scott and the Emmanuel 9 (to name only a few). We recognize that these acts of violence are deeply rooted in the institution of slavery which served to deny the sanctity and sovereignty of Black life.

As a Center that studies the history and legacies of chattel slavery in the South, we see the recent instances of brutality occurring nationally and in Charleston as but the latest manifestations of our country’s long history of violence against Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples. We are deeply pained by these tragic events, which serve to remind us all that the history of racism and white supremacy are clearly not past: we are still living them, and they are ever-present on our campus and in our local community. Because of this, the CSSC was established in 2018 to foster a deeper public understanding of slavery and its complex legacies. A part of our mission is to raise awareness and fight to bring an end to their brutal impacts. It is in this spirit that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and campus activists. 

We demand social justice. In March 2020, we had planned a community-wide conversation on reparations in Charleston that was interrupted by COVID-19. The combined tragedies of state violence against Black Americans and the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on the Black community highlight the urgency of this work. We call on the College of Charleston leadership to make good on its promise to combat racism and white privilege by dedicating more robust support to the CSSC. And in turn, the CSSC pledges to advance learning and research experiences for our students, staff, and faculty to further our understanding of how our history of slavery shapes the present, and to collaborate with members of the campus and Charleston community to create programming and restorative dialogue to promote social justice, racial healing, reconciliation, and transformational change.

We see our work as a tangible affirmation that Black Lives Matter (and have always mattered).


CSSC to host a Community-Wide Conversation on Reparations in Charleston

Updated March 2020: Due to the impacts of COVID-19, this event has been postponed. Please check back for updates.

NOTE: CSSC is excited to share events hosted by CSSC and others in the community. Please check back regularly for updates and contact the director, Benard Powers ( if you would like additional information. Due to the global pandemic and the challenges with convening events, our Spring and Summer events have been postponed or moved to a virtual setting. Please check back for updates. 

Past Events

Please contact the director, Benard Powers ( if you would like additional information.

Presentations on Charleston Slave Traders, Lowcountry Music

On Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 4 PM, the public is invited to come to Wesley United Methodist Church on Johns Island for a program, “Awakening the Ancestors through Music.” Participants will learn about Lowcountry sprituals and funeral songs. Co-sponsored by International African American Museum, The Progressive Club of Johns Island, Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor Commission, Charleston County Public Library, and Wesley United Methodist Church.

On Monday, February 24, 2020 at 6 PM, the public is invited to come to the College of Charleston Sciences Auditorium, room 129, to hear a talk by Margaret Seidler, “Telling the Story of a Charleston Family of Slave Traders and Those They Sold.” Co-sponsored by the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) program at C of C and the Center for Family History at the International African American Museum.

Read more at:

A Conversation on History, Race, and Life in America

March 29, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Charleston County Library
68 Calhoun Street | Charleston, SC 

Commemoration400 presents, for the first time together: A Conversation on History, Race, and Life in America. Visit for more information. 

FEATURING: Professor Peter H. Wood, The Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina & Professor James Campbell, Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa 1787- 2005

Passing the Torch: Carrying on the work of the 1969 Charleston Strike and building a new Poor People's Campaign


The S.C. Poor People's Campaign will host an event this weekend in honor of the women of the 1969 Charleston hospital workers strike. The program will start at 10 a.m. at Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. It will be followed by lunch at noon and organizing workshops at 1 p.m. Attendees can register for free here. Titled Passing the Torch: Carrying on the work of the 1969 Charleston strike and building a new poor people's campaign, the gathering will not just celebrate the lives of those who participated in the 1969 demonstration, but it will also attempt to galvanize people for similar efforts in the Lowcountry. View the event flyer for information.

March 23, 2019
Charity Missionary Baptist Church
1544 E. Montague Ave | North Charleston, SC

Credit: Avery Research Center - Mary Moultrie, Coretta Scott King, and thousands of protesters filled city streets in 1969 to demand equal treatment at Medical College Hospital.


The Long Afterlife of Brown v. Board


To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the hallmark Brown v. Board decision and decade of subsequent court battles and protests, Dr. Millicent Brown and Caroll Y. Turpin will share their experiences as children who desegregated South Carolina's public schools in the 1960s. Join us for this important panel discussion on desegregation and its legacies. View the event flyer for information. 

March 27, 2019
Reception to start at 5:30 PM. Talk will begin at 6:00 PM. 
Alumni Hall in Randolph Hall at the College of Charleston (66 George St)

Sponsored By: The Department of History, School of Education, Health, and Human Performance, African American Studies Program, Office of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Women's and Gender Studies Program, Southern Studies Program, & First Year Experience.


Community and Memorialization - The Gullah Society

Community Conversations continue to be held at various community venues in and around Charleston, these are free and open to all. We want to hear what you think are appropriate ways to remember and honor our ancestors buried near Anson Street. Through the community engagement, school and art programs we hope to explore what you would like to see for the memorial. Visit for more information.

'Egungun Tunji: Ancestors Rise Again!' 

Join us for 'Egungun Tunji: Ancestors Rise Again!' on February 27th at 6:30pm at the Cannon Street Arts Center.


2019 Conference: The Vesey Conspiracy at 200: Black Anti-Slavery in the Atlantic World

February 8 – 10, 2019
College of Charleston
Addlestone Library

Image: “Sustenance Rice” by Jonathan Green (used with permission)


In preparation for a volume of essays to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” of 1822, the Carolina Lowcountry in the Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the College of Charleston will hold a small conference on enslaved and free black anti-slavery, February 8-10, 2019. Please note that registration is free for presenters and both keynotes are free to all. We still ask that you register even if not paying so that we can get an accurate measure of attendance. 

Cosponsored by the Carolina Lowcountry in the Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston and by Soka University of America


Architectures of Slavery: Ruins & Reconstructions

October 24-26, 2019
Charleston, South Carolina

The Art & Architectural History Department and the new Center for the Study of Slavery at the College of Charleston announce a symposium dedicated to the historic and ongoing relationships between slavery and architecture. We seek papers that critically explore places and times in which slavery was a legal institution, as well as papers that analyze the long-enduring memories and legacies of slavery in architecture, urbanism, and landscapes. Charleston is one of the most important sites of such history in the United States and offers an ideal setting for a confrontation with the ways that the systems and values of slavery are woven into the fabric of a place. The city was built upon the slave trade, launched the Civil War, seethed during Reconstruction, and endured decades of segregation and oppression, both in its historic center and in its modern suburbs. We acknowledge, however, the global nature of slavery and welcome relevant submissions pertaining to any corner of the planet.

Please email a 300-word abstract and a two-page CV, with the phrase Ruins and Reconstructions written in the subject line, to and by April 1, 2019. Send any inquiries to the same addresses.


RISE Exhibition: "Rise That We May Feel Your Light" 

Join us for "RISE" on December 3, 2018 at 5:30 PM

An exhibition of student designs for a monument honoring thirty-six Charlestonians of African origin and descent, buried near Anson Street in the late 1700s.


CLAW Film Series

Film Series Explores Links Between Gullah Communities and Sierra LeoneThe Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) Program at the College of Charleston is pleased to announce a three-film series exploring the cultural connections between South Carolina's Gullah communities and Sierra Leone.


Magnolia Gardens Event

Underground Railroad conference topic at Magnolia GardensScholars, living historians and enslaved descendants will gather at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to show that the Underground Railroad was more than a network of secret routes to northern states and Canada that enslaved Africans followed to freedom.


November 7, 2018
College of Charleston
Community Conversations continue to be held at various community venues in and around Charleston, these are free and open to all.  We want to hear what you think are appropriate ways to remember and honor our ancestors buried near Anson Street. Through the community engagement, school and art programs we hope to explore what you would like to see for the memorial.  How does our understanding of the identity of the people buried at this site and those of African descent living in Charleston today affect the reinterment ceremony and the design of a memorial for the reburial site? Please plan on joining us for our next event on November 7 at the College of Charleston. Your input is vital!

“Beyond the Big House”

November 17, 2018 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm: The Slave Dwelling Project, Historic Charleston Foundation and the Charleston Gaillard Center present “BEYOND THE BIG HOUSE” TO PRIVATE, HISTORIC BUILDINGS WHERE ENSLAVED PEOPLE LIVED AND WORKED. 


CSSC Opens

September 24, 2018Opening of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston

CSSC logo