CLEMSON — Clemson University’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities will explore “Race and the University: A Campus Conversation” throughout this academic year with a series of events, exhibitions and discussions beginning in September.

The series’ purpose is to create greater awareness of and encourage open conversations about Clemson’s history as it relates to race and diversity. Although Clemson was the first all-white public college in the state to desegregate, it sits on a former plantation worked by slaves and many of its earliest buildings were built by convict laborers.

Craig Wilder

Craig Wilder

A highlight of the series will be a keynote address in November by Craig S. Wilder, author of “Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities” (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013). Wilder is professor of history and head of history faculty at MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. He studies American urban, intellectual and cultural history.

Richard Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, said, “I’m glad our faculty are initiating this important discussion about how Clemson’s history has influenced the present and how it can help improve our future. These discussions will provide a compelling opportunity for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community to discuss and gain a broader understanding of race in today’s academy and society.”

“Race and the University” is sponsored by the Faculty Arts and Humanities Council in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and is organized by faculty members Diane Perpich, director of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs and associate professor of philosophy, and Rhondda Thomas, associate professor of English.

“This series of events grew out of discussions by the arts and humanities council about ways to enrich the college’s culture through a variety of intellectual, cultural and social events,” Thomas said. “The aim of the initiative is to use humanistic forms of inquiry to initiate a dialogue about race and diversity — past, present, and future — at Clemson.

“In so doing, Clemson joins a worldwide discussion at higher education institutions, including Brown University, Harvard University, Emory University, Cambridge University and the University of Michigan, regarding issues of diversity, inclusion and identity.”

The series events will be listed on the Clemson University master calendar throughout the year.


“See the Stripes” Poetry, Dance, and Music Fest
Hendrix Student Center lawn
Sept. 16, 5:30-7 p.m.
Through poetry, spoken word, music, and dance, this student-organized event acknowledges Clemson’s complex racial past while celebrating and renewing its commitment to inclusion and diversity today.

From Slave Quarters to Studios: A Dialogue about Lee Hall’s Past in the Present
Lee Hall Auditorium
Oct. 1, 4-6 p.m.
In town-hall meeting style, participants will explore the dramatic transformation of the Fort Hill slave quarters site into an academic building filled with creativity studios.

Sister? An Afro-German Search for Community (Clemson Humanities Road Scholars event)
Academic Success Center, room 118
Oct. 3, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Speaker: Michelle Eley, assistant professor of German studies, department of foreign languages and literatures, North Carolina State University. Respondent: Aga Skrodzka, associate professor, department of English, Clemson University. (The Clemson Humanities Road Scholars Lecture Series invites humanities professors from Clemson’s athletic rivals to campus to give presentations on their research, each followed by a response from a Clemson humanities faculty member.

The Equality Cup Dialogue: Examining the Invisible Knapsack
University Union, Starbucks
Oct. 21, 2014, 7 p.m.
This dialogue, limited to students, will promote a greater understanding of personal responsibility in dismantling social structures that create an unjust society. A unique “equality cup” mug, coffee, and snacks will be provided. Facilitator: Dalton Mills, Clemson University Peer Dialogue.

Clemson Brickmaking Project Panel Discussion
Lee Hall Auditorium
Oct. 29, 4-5 p.m.
This panel discussion will explores the history of the mostly African-American state convict labor crew who hand-molded and wood-fired the clay that made the bricks for the early buildings of Clemson College.

A Community Dialogue with Craig Wilder about Race and the University: Looking at Clemson’s Past, Present, and Future
Clemson Little Theater Cox Hall, Pendleton, S.C.
Nov. 11, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Dr. Wilder will share his findings about the role of the nation’s colleges and universities in the institution of slavery in America. He will facilitate a public dialogue about Clemson’s relation to its racial past, the current climate for students and staff at the university and its relation to the surrounding African-American communities today.

Keynote Address: “Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities”
Dr. Craig Wilder, Professor of American History, M.I.T.
Tillman Auditorium
Nov. 12, 5-6 p.m.
Dr. Wilder will discuss his book describing how America’s oldest colleges and universities, North and South, were closely linked to the culture of slavery and its institutions. Combining extensive research with a compelling narrative, Wilder’s book documents the way in which major institutions of higher education disseminated an ideology of white supremacy and contributed significantly to the creation of American racism.


The African American Voice
Lee Gallery in Lee Hall
Sept. 8 – Oct. 9
This exhibition feature 40 pieces of artwork by 25 African-American artists from the South Carolina State Art Collection. Sponsored by the South Carolina Arts Commission, support of the collection is provided by the South Carolina Arts Foundation and Kahn Development Inc. The State Art Collection is a program of the South Carolina Arts Commission.

My Name is Omar: A Life in the Struggle for Liberation
Strom Thurmond Institute, Special Collections Library lobby
Oct. 1 – April 30
Celebration/Reception: Oct. 17, 2-3 p.m.
Rare 19th-century documents written by and about Omar Ibn Said, a West African, Arabic-speaking Muslim who lived in slavery in South Carolina and North Carolina and wrote his life story in Arabic.

A Study of Fort Hill Plantation Life through Clothing
Fort Hill (John C. Calhoun home)
Nov. 1 – March 31
Exhibit features representations of three mid-19th century costumes for Anna Calhoun Clemson; Susan Clemson, a house slave; and a field slave on John C. Calhoun’s Fort Hill plantation.

Red, White, and Black Make Blue
Lee Hall, Lee Gallery
2014-15 academic year
Photos by Anderson Wrangle of textiles related to 18th-century indigo production in South Carolina.

Race in Contemporary Art
Lee Hall Gunnin Library
Nov. 5 – Dec. 4
A project by students in the department of art showcasing books from the library collection that reflect art and race.

Voices Wall
Lee Hall, Acorn Gallery
Fall Semester
Rotating exhibits that explore the experience of race and the university from multiple perspectives.

In Their Steps
Lee Hall, Acorn Gallery
Nov. 10-14
Photographs by Rhondda Robinson Thomas that trace the pathways of enslaved Africans and African Americans throughout the African Diaspora.