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Posted on: September 8, 2023

Talking History series returns with programs on slavery, religion

Friendfield Village church and cabin at Hobcaw Barony, which previously housed enslaved persons..

In October and November, the Waccamaw Library will host two more fascinating presentations as part of its Talking History series, an exciting collaboration that features faculty members from the Coastal Carolina University Department of History. The series is sponsored by the Friends of the Waccamaw Library, and all programs are free and open to the public. 

On Thursday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., Madison W. Cates, Ph.D., will deliver a presentation entitled “Uncovering the History of the Long Black Freedom Struggle at Hobcaw Barony.” Building upon ongoing research by the Baruch Institute for South Carolina Studies, Cates’ talk will address the history of slavery at the former plantations that made up much of what is now Hobcaw Barony. Cates will draw on research conducted by a team of faculty from Coastal Carolina and Francis Marion universities to shed light on how enslaved persons reshaped the landscape of the Waccamaw Neck, not only through forced toil, but also through their resistance to chattel slavery. During the Civil War and other key moments in local history, enslaved communities were active, not passive, participants in remaking the natural and social landscapes of our area. 

Cates is an assistant professor of history at CCU with a focus on U.S. history. His publications include a recent article on environmental justice activism on Hilton Head Island during the 1970s, which appeared in the interdisciplinary journal “Southern Cultures.” He is currently working on a book examining movements for environmental and economic justice in South Carolina since the 1960s. In the classroom, he enjoys engaging students in discussions about how the past shapes the communities, neighborhoods, and landscapes we inhabit. 

Just in time for Thanksgiving, on Monday, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m., John J. Navin, Ph.D., will deliver a talk about a serious religious division that erupted among the Pilgrims (or Separatists) and threatened the stability and the very future of the colony they established at Plymouth. In “Crisis at Plymouth, 1624,” Navin explores this dramatic episode that was sparked by a dispute involving a religious challenge to the Pilgrims’ tight authority. It resulted in the defection of approximately one quarter of Plymouth’s population and in the loss of investor backing for the colony. Navin’s presentation will provide a new perspective on some of the inner turmoil plaguing the Pilgrims’ early years in the new world.  

Originally from Boston, Navin joined the CCU Department of History in 1999 after teaching at Pfeiffer University and Brandeis University, where he earned his doctorate. He specializes in early American history and his publications focus on race, warfare, gender, and the impact of colonizing ventures on groups and individuals. His recent book, “The Grim Years: Settling South Carolina, 1670-1720,” captures the continual turmoil endured by colonial South Carolinians. Using primary sources, the book describes challenges colonists faced, setbacks they experienced, and effects of policies and practices initiated by elites and proprietors. Before completing his doctorate, he managed the communications departments for several Massachusetts firms and he holds two U.S. patents for four-way chess. 

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