On Friday, October 13th, Savannah State University (SSU) hosted the Telfair Art Museum. Communities of Conversation: The Legacy of Slavery on the Savannah. Telfair launched an initiative in 2019 to “work with local communities to consider how the legacy of slavery continues to manifest in our city.”
David Marshall, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), said SSU’s “mission is to develop productive members of global society through quality education, scholarship, research, service, and community engagement.” talked about. He then introduced Dr. Melissa Cooper, associate professor of history at Rutgers University-Newark and co-editor of “The Legacy of Slavery in the Savannah.” She said Cooper agreed to work with co-editor Talitha LeFloria, Ph.D., associate professor of history and fellow in the Mastin Gentry White Professorship in Southern History, because he was “perturbed by the opportunity to disrupt society.” ” he revealed. It is a fascinating place that holds untold stories of the city and region’s past. ”
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Panel of national liberal arts scholars speaks at Savannah State University
Distinguished professor of English, history, African or African American studies He has presented work based on various aspects of Savannah’s black history.
Jelani Favors, the Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina A&T State University, led the first group, touching on education, memory, and the legacy of slavery. Favors shared how Black Americans have carved out a space for themselves to receive an education. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) such as Savannah State University are one of his prime examples. His book is based on the idea that there is a second curriculum beyond the science, math, and rhetoric taught at HBCUs. He explained that the second curriculum includes racial awareness, idealism, and cultural naturalism.
Next, Fass Davis Ruffins, curator of African American history and culture at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, explores the complexities of black representation in art, literature, and film through what she calls a mythological lens. Presented about history. She challenged the once-common notion that black Americans were a people without a history. She talked about how African Americans established physical museums independent of African American universities in the late 1800s. Next, Anne C. Bailey, professor of history and African studies and director of the Harriet Tubman Center for Liberty and Equity at Binghamton University in New York, spoke about the site of one of the largest African-American slave auctions ever recorded in the United States. Archival research on Ping Time was explained. history. In 1859, an auction in Savannah of 436 men, women, and children, including 30 infants, raised $303,850 for plantation owner Pierce Butler. Ms Bailey also told how she traced the descendants of 15% of the enslaved people listed on the auction ledger.
Felicia Jamison, assistant professor of history and comparative studies at the University of Louisville, and Andrew Carle, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Virginia, formed the next commission on land ownership in the Lowcountry. Jamison, a descendant of former slaves who were granted land in Liberty County, recounted how much of that land was taken back from black people when the U.S. government used it to build Fort Stewart. Ta. Karl’s talk featured much of his research for his upcoming book, “The Black Tax.” His research places Sapelo Island in historical context and “reveals the structural and administrative features of the American local tax system that have structurally disadvantaged African American landowners.” It is.
Julie Buckner Armstrong, Professor of English at the University of South Florida. Mia Bay, Roy F. Nichols, and Janet P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. and Michelle Nicole Johnson, librarian and assistant professor of library science at Coastal Georgia University, comprised the final panel, which highlighted historical examples of activism in the face of violence. Mr. Armstrong shared the movement’s response to the 1918 lynching of Mary Turner, a pregnant black woman near Valdosta. Bay then shared his research on streetcar segregation in Savannah from 1872 to 1908, illuminating the activism strategies that would later influence civil rights leaders in the 1960s. I guessed.
Johnson read her essay “Ahmaud Arbery – Savannah’s Legacy of Slavery.” Her research examined the legacy of Black resistance within a limited period of 74 days, from when Arbery was chased and shot by his assailants until his first arrest on May 7, 2020. It is something.
“In those 74 days, several grassroots efforts consolidated and gained momentum,” she said. Grief, frustration and anger grew as families, friends and communities sought answers.
“Know the context”
During the morning presentation’s panel question-and-answer session, Bailey cited the state’s pattern of cutting history, English, and African studies scholarship in public institutions. “There’s so much pressure on Black institutions and all educational institutions right now to just produce workers,” she said. She worried that students were getting the message that a college degree was not necessary. “When I’m done with Amazon, I’m going to wish I had a degree,” she said.
Due to continued declines in enrollment and resulting budget deficits, SSU, the host of the symposium, is considering, and in some cases has already, suspended some of these degree programs.
During the final panel’s question-and-answer session, SSU English professor Dr. Chad Fairies reminded all of the panelists of their prestigious liberal studies pedigrees and asked: , majoring in history and African studies, and we have also significantly reduced faculty in those fields?”
The panelists sat in silence for a while. They later admitted they didn’t know that information. Mr. Bey then spoke about the value of the humanities. “Many jobs actually require knowledge of reading and writing. Similarly, history is all about analytical thinking. The skills of all these majors are essential for society to function.”
“The humanities have been under attack for quite some time in the United States,” Armstrong said. She also called attention to the backlash against book bans and university diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. “I think this is a backlash to Black Lives Matter, in that we see waves like this over and over again in history, where there are periods of activism and then there’s a backlash against it.”
After their comments, a voice was heard from the back of the Mary C. Torian Auditorium. “Know the context, know the context.” That voice belonged to former Savannah mayor and SSU professor emeritus Otis Johnson. When Mr Johnson was later asked to elaborate on his comments, he noted: University System of Georgia (USG) Degree or Major Deactivation Policy. Johnson argued that the policy states that if a program does not graduate a certain number of students for more than five years, it will be subject to review. The information on his website for USG does not include that specific provision, but does state that “the process of deactivating the program begins at the campus level.”
Mr. Johnson went on to refer to Mr. Favors’ concept of a “second curriculum.” He said an African American studies degree program is not necessary for HBCU scholarship to continue to be integrated and valued across institutions.
A Savannah Morning News (SMN) investigation has not yet revealed a specific SSU policy statement regarding the revocation of majors/degrees. SMN plans to further investigate the deactivation of certain majors within his CLASS department at SSU.
Joseph Schwartzbart is the education and workforce development reporter for the Savannah Morning News. Please contact [email protected].