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GtCounty General News

Posted on: November 29, 2023

Three free civil rights history events happening in December

Portrait of Lorna Rainey

The great-granddaughter of the first Reconstruction House member will join two civil rights groundbreakers in a Dec. 8 program, “Eyewitnesses to the Movement: Georgetown and the Civil Rights Movement.” Lorna Rainey, photojournalist Cecil Williams and activist Dr. Cleveland Sellers will speak at the Howard Center auditorium, 1610 Hawkins Street, Georgetown, at 6 p.m., with a reception following. The event is co-sponsored by Georgetown Parks and Recreation and the Georgetown County Library.

“We are honored to host Lorna Rainey for this event in Georgetown,” said Bobby Donaldson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research. “We connected while researching her grandfather’s extraordinary life and career and became friends. She will be joined by one of my longtime colleagues and teachers, the legendary photographer Cecil J. Williams of Orangeburg. We look forward to an informative and enriching conversation.”

The event is one of three in Georgetown County to celebrate “Justice for All: South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement,” the traveling exhibition that is on public display at the Southern Georgetown Library until Dec. 15. On Dec. 7 at 3 p.m., Donaldson will deliver a talk, “And Justice for All...”, at the Southern Georgetown Library. His talk will connect listeners with historical photographs and other items in the exhibition and highlight the remarkable work by individuals from Georgetown from the 1860s to the 1970s. Donaldson’s presentation is supported by South Carolina Humanities, whose mission is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. The Southern Georgetown Library is located at 4187 Powell Road, Georgetown, SC 29440.

The exhibit and the accompanying events are all free and open to all.

On Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Howard Center auditorium, the Center will host a screening of "After Sherman," a documentary directed by Jon-Sesrie Goff. The documentary follows Goff to ancestral land in Georgetown that his family purchased after emancipation. A reception at 5:45 p.m. at the Howard Center will precede the event. The event is co-sponsored by Georgetown Parks and Recreation and the Georgetown County Library.

For the Dec. 8 event, the special guests are:

  • Lorna Rainey, the great-granddaughter of Congressman Joseph H. Rainey, the first African American seated in the United States House of Representatives. He was enslaved in Georgetown, worked as a barber in Charleston, escaped to Bermuda in 1861, and returned to serve in South Carolina’s constitutional convention. He served in the state legislature before his election to Congress.
  • Cecil J. Williams, South Carolina’s foremost civil rights photojournalist. He captured images of iconic figures and events of the Civil Rights Movement, including Thurgood Marshall, Harvey Gantt, Dr. Henrie Monteith Treadwell, and others, across the state. He was the South Carolina photojournalist for Jet magazine, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Baltimore Afro-American, and other publications. He recently established the South Carolina Civil Rights Museum in Orangeburg.

The “Justice for All: South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement” traveling exhibition

 On display at the Southern Georgetown library through Dec. 15, this traveling exhibit is organized by the University of South Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights History and Research. It uses oral history recordings, news film footage, photographs, postcards, newspapers and letters to highlight overlooked chapters in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. The Southern Georgetown Library (4187 Powell Road, Georgetown, SC 29440) is open Monday-Thursday, 9-6; and Saturday 10-2. The library is closed on Friday and Sunday, except as noted. Admission to the exhibition and the programs are free.

“With the support of generous institutions across South Carolina, we have been able to take ‘Justice for All’ on a tour of the state,” Donaldson said. “Helping students and others to learn the remarkable history of our state has been rewarding. We’ve also helped civil rights veterans revisit their past through the exhibited items and through programs. These programs at Georgetown promise to make a fitting capstone to our tour.”

Traveling trunks with materials and lesson plans for students are available on request. Community groups and school groups are welcome. For information about traveling trunks or our other initiatives such as oral history interviews, email the Center: sccivilrights@sc.edu.

Georgetown is the final visit in the two-year tour of the state. The “Justice for All” traveling exhibition has visited Columbia, Sumter, Orangeburg, Hartsville, Spartanburg, and Beaufort. The traveling exhibition is based on the 2019 archival exhibition “Justice for All” that the Center created collaboratively with South Carolina Humanities, University of South Carolina Libraries and the College of Arts and Sciences. The traveling version is supported with funding from the Williams Companies as part of a $1.5 million gift, and by South Carolina Humanities and Central Carolina Community Foundation.

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