Groundbreaking for Clemson historical markers set for April 12
CLEMSON — A groundbreaking set for Tuesday signals both the spot where a new historical marker will be erected and the launch of a new commitment to tell Clemson University’s full history.
The public event will take place at 11:30 a.m. in the Lee Hall courtyard to commemorate a nearby site where the marker will be erected.
One side of the marker notes that 70 to 80 enslaved African-Americans lived at Fort Hill in 1849, the date of the earliest known written description of the slave quarters, with the number rising to 139 by 1865. The other side of the marker indicates that a nearby site was later used for a stockade to house convict laborers, most of them African-American, who cleared land and helped build some of the university’s first buildings.
Members of the board of trustees, administration, faculty and special guests will participate in the groundbreaking, which will be attended by two descendants of people once enslaved at Fort Hill.
The marker is one of three scheduled to be delivered within the next few weeks. Another will be erected at the Calhoun Bottoms farmland to commemorate the role of Native Americans and African-Americans in the development of the Fort Hill Plantation lands. A third will be placed at Woodland Cemetery to mark the burial sites of the family of John C. Calhoun, slaves and state-leased prisoners who died during their confinement at Clemson.
The markers are one way Clemson is working to give a more complete and accurate public accounting of its history in the wake of a national movement on university campuses to acknowledge connections to slavery, segregation or other practices and viewpoints inconsistent with current institutional values.
In July 2015, the trustees appointed a task force to work with the administration to gather input from a wide variety of constituents and recommend ways to tell the full story of Clemson’s history, good and bad. The board approved the report of the task force in February.
If you can’t attend, watch the event live on ClemsonTV.