4.33 | Monday, June 18, 2012
:: FEEDBACK: On Gadsden Flag
:: SPOTLIGHT: Rural Mission
:: CALENDAR: This week ... and next
:: THE LIST: Longest day of the year
:: QUOTE: Baseball and midsummer
:: BROADUS: Close-up view
WHERE IS IT?
JUNE 18, 2012 -- A few years ago, someone named Brandon Coffey started sending us pictures of plantations around the state. One week he'd send us shots from Colleton County; the next week it'd be Calhoun. As the photos rolled in, the wheels of our imagination started to turn. Who was this masked man?
In our minds, we envisioned an elderly dapper, debonair gent - a retired professor now touring the state at his leisure, a guest of honor at family reunions and barbeques. Sporting seersucker and a Southern drawl, he obviously came complete with a Cadillac and a silver-tipped cane. We even endowed him with a Walter Edgar bow tie and a boutonniere!
Eventually, we decided we owed lunch to the guy. After all, his pictures were becoming the stars of our site. We suggested a quiet restaurant and showed up at the arranged time. Then we waited. And waited. But the only person we saw was some young kid in shorts and a T-shirt with shaggy hair and tattoos.
And thus we came face-to-face with one of South Carolina's most surprising historians, a marvelously complex and refreshingly anti-aristocratic 27-year-old who, with a hearty handshake and almost unnerving honesty, is slowly winning the hearts of landed gentry across the state.
Ghost hunter turned history buff
As long as he can remember, Brandon has been interested in history - - but not the kind found in museums. Instead, his true love centers around the supernatural. In fact, Brandon's passion for plantations is actually a by-product of his first love - - ghost hunting. He was just 13 when he made his first trip to Strawberry Chapel in rural Cordesville. (Not yet old enough for a license, he had to get his mom to drive.) Friends at school told him the chapel was haunted, and during his visit he learned of a young girl named Catharine Chicken whose ghost is said to roam the graveyard at night.
Intrigued, Brandon decided to learn more. He found a vintage 1925 edition of Little Mistress Chicken online and discovered that a portrait of Catharine still hung in her old house at Middleburg Plantation in Huger. Scouring newspaper archives, Brandon managed to locate the owners. "Much to my surprise and excitement, they welcomed me with open arms."
Through the years, Brandon has maintained a unique friendship with the owners, who have handed him the keys on several occasions and allowed him to stay overnight. Middleburg, which dates back to the late 1690s, is the oldest wooden plantation home in South Carolina. Isolated at the edge of the Francis Marion National Forest, it couldn't have been spookier. "When you shut off the lights," Brandon recalls, "it was complete darkness. The house made a lot of strange noises, and it was just a really creepy experience!"
65 plantations - and counting!
From then on, Brandon was hooked. "I fell in love with plantations and history after that. [At first] I focused mainly on Berkeley County because that's where I lived, but eventually, I branched out. I would love to revisit the old places because a lot of times, when I was younger, I either didn't take a whole lot of pictures or I had a crap camera."
Not so anymore - these days Brandon's photos are stunning and plentiful. Almost completely self-taught, he has contributed pictures of 65 plantations so far, generously sharing his talent for everyone in our state to enjoy. Of course, there are still plenty more plantations for Brandon to document. In just under 200 years, we had over 2,000 estates worked by slaves.
Generosity and gratitude
While it's probably obvious by now, we think it is important to note that Brandon has no connections to any of the plantations he visits. No formal introductions, no friends-of-friends. Eager to know how some kid from North Charleston is able to gain access to some of South Carolina's most exclusive residences, we asked him how he pulls it off. A bit surprised, Brandon answered immediately: "I just ask. I've never been intimidated by wealth. I don't care how much money someone has - they're no different than you or me. They might own the plantation, but the history belongs to everyone in South Carolina."
That said, Brandon is also quick to acknowledge his gratitude: "What surprises me most about visiting these private places - complete stranger's homes - is that the owners were more than willing to share their property with me and tell me all about the places when I visited. I have met some very warm, gracious people in my explorations over the years, who always were equally surprised that I even cared because I was so young. Honestly, I expected to be told 'no' every time I inquired about visiting a new property, but thankfully I have only been told 'no' two or three times."
The secret to his success? Direct and delightful, with the mouth of a sailor and the manners of a gentleman, Brandon never turns down the chance to walk with someone along a forgotten path, and he always takes time to share a porch swing.
2012 -- Integration may not be working in South Carolina for at least
a quarter of the state's public schools.
are varied. There's more of a focus on neighborhood schools. An increase
in alternative public schools, such as charter and magnet schools, takes
bright, often white kids out of mainstream schools, which, in turn, lowers
general school diversity. Finally, families with economic means in rural
and urban areas often abandon public schools for private alternatives,
either because they don't want their kids to mix with less fortunate kids
or they don't think public schools are performing.
the next four weeks, we'll offer an editorial series that looks into what's
happened to integration over the last 40 years in South Carolina. We'll
look at whether we're failing our children or adapting to more modern
times. In the end, we'll look at some strategies to strengthen public
schools and make them better.
a little history.
1895 Constitution called for a "liberal system of free public schools
for all children between the ages of six and twenty-one years" (Article
XI, Section 5). The next section included a provision for a $1 poll tax
to be used for education. Section 7 said, "separate schools shall
be provided for children of the white and colored races, and no child
of either race shall ever be permitted to attend a school provided for
children of the other race."
to Clarendon County in 1947 when 22 black families filed a case against
the local school district to get some gas money for a bus so children
didn't have to walk to their "separate but equal" schools. By
1949, the Briggs v. Elliott case blossomed in scope to seek equal educational
opportunities. Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court combined five
school equality cases, including Briggs, and heard oral arguments. In
1954, the court ruled unanimously that separate schools were not equal
and that segregation was harmful. In a subsequent decision a year later,
the court ruled that federal district courts would oversee desegregation
"with all deliberate speed."
took, however, several years and a lot of turmoil for schools in South
Carolina to be desegregated. Around 1970, with the threat of federal money
being withheld, any remaining school districts acquiesced and put black
and white kids in the same classes.
moved forward, scores of private schools -- often known as white "seg"
schools -- cropped up across the state. Today, about 39,000 students in
South Carolina attend an estimated 262 private schools, many of which
are predominantly white. Additionally, the state Department of Education
estimates about 20,000 students are "home-schooled," or educated
in their homes.
state Constitution calls for the state to "provide for the maintenance
and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in
the state." More than 700,000 of South Carolina's children attend
1,150 public schools across the state.
to data from the State Department of Education, South Carolina has 109
public schools in which 90 percent or more of the student body is black.
When the threshold of black students in schools is dropped to 80 percent,
the number of predominantly black grows to 164. Only two of these schools
are outside of the Pee Dee, Midlands or Lowcountry.
the state has almost exactly the same number of schools with 80 percent
or more white students -- 161 schools -- as it does predominantly black
schools. But when the threshold is increased to 90 percent or more white,
there are only 37 schools that are overwhelmingly white. Only four of
the 37 are outside of the Upstate. [See the full data set: XLS
at the numbers, it's pretty clear 325 out of the state's 1,150 public
schools -- 28 percent -- are predominantly black or white. In the Upstate,
a high number of whiter schools makes some sense because the black population
in the region is far less than it is in the lower part of the state. Only
16 percent of Anderson County's population is black. In neighboring Pickens
County, blacks comprise just 6.6 percent of the population.
But whatever is happening outside of the Upstate makes one wonder: Are we failing some of our children, particularly those in predominantly black schools because of a lack of diversity?
you for writing this editorial [6/1: "Don't
tread on the Gadsden flag."] It needed to be said but those
who need to hear this message tend to be very sensitive. Your tone was
appropriate so hopefully your message will sit well with the intended
to a song too
I read your opinion in the 6/6/12 issue of West Of. The famous line "Don't tread on me" is also part of the lyrics to the Grateful Dead song 'Uncle John's Band.'
to tease my tea party friends that Charleston has lots of Deadheads because
all the Gadsden Flags flying. For some reason they don't find this funny.
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. This issue's featured nonprofit partner is Rural Mission on John's Island. The organization is many things to many people: a hand up in times of crisis and need a mission, service and faith volunteer experience for the young and older a caregiver and advocate for young migrant children and a support system for migrant families a provider of a warm, comfortable home in winter and a greatly appreciated giver of desperately needed home repairs to make low income homes safe, healthy and decent. For all, Rural Mission is a source of hope for low- and very low-income residents, the elderly and families living in the rural underserved Sea Islands of Charleston County, from Johns Island to Wadmalaw to Edisto and Yonges Islands. To learn more about this extraordinary organization, visit Rural Mission online. To talk to someone about giving your time or money to help, phone: 843.768-1720.
JUNE 18, 2012 -- Corn on the cob has always been an easy summer side dish, but it gets even easier when let your microwave do the cooking. This method of preparation has been around for a while, I'm sure, but I'd never tried it before.
Last week, after hearing a bunch of different folks, at random times and places, raving about how much they love cooking corn this way, we decided to give it a go. Add me to the fan club, please: the corn was great - and the cooking process was just about as no-fuss, no-muss as it can be. Here's how to do it, easy as 1-2-3:
That's it -- just add butter and salt and start munching. Give it a try, and I bet you'll join the fan club, too.
'Tis the seasons
It's peach season, and it's ice cream season - well, OK, as far as we're concerned it's always ice cream season -- so what better time than now to make some homemade peach ice cream? We tried a Southern Living magazine recipe last week that we thought was especially good. It's actually peach/butter pecan ice cream - a really yummy combination. Check it out here. The vanilla bean paste that the recipe calls for adds a delicious depth of flavor, but if you can't find the paste near you, you can substitute pure vanilla extract. Check your nearest kitchen goods shop for the paste; I found a jar at the Coastal Cupboard in Mount Pleasant, and we hear that Williams-Sonoma downtown carries it as well.
Cooking class spotlight
Fish Tacos: Noon on Monday, June 25, Coastal Cupboard, Belle Hall Shopping Center, Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant. Spend your lunch hour not just eating lunch, but learning how to make fish tacos, too. Store chef Stephen Harman will lead the class through a menu that includes Blue Cornmeal Fried Tacos, Cumin Seared Fish Tacos, Smoked Corn and Black Bean Relish, Chipotle Crema, and a dessert of Lemon Curd Tarts with Raspberry Whipped Cream. Cost: $25 per person. Register/learn more: Call 856-4321 or go here.
Begin With Books, a pre-school literacy program in Charleston County, has received a $30,000 challenge grant to expand its rural program to improve reading readiness to peninsular Charleston in the 29403 zip code.
"This challenge represents nearly half the funds we need to start enrollment in this new community, which will add 1,400 children to our service area," according to the organization's June newsletter. "As soon as we match the grant and assemble our volunteer team, here we grow again! You can help by designating your next gift to "29403 expansion." We are grateful to the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust for helping us extend our reach with this generous grant.
The organization is holding a community awareness meeting that starts at 10 a.m. June 28 in the Fellowship Hall of Morris Browne AME Church, 13 Morris Street, Charleston.
Currently, the organization, part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library network, is shipping monthly books to 893 children in Charleston County. Another 188 children have graduated from the program.
SC atheists to organize to keep church, state separate
The Secular Coalition for America will start organizing a South Carolina chapter in July to lobby state lawmakers in favor of a strong separation of religion and government.
organization, whose president is retired Charleston college math professor
Herb Silverman, is organizing chapters in 16 other states and expects
to have state affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and
Puerto Rico by the end of the year. It already has chapters in Arizona
"Some of the most egregious violations of church state separation are being promoted and passed at the state level, and we absolutely must act to stop it," said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America.
"There are 40 million Americans who don't identify with any religion, but our political influence has been limited because we have not been organized. This year, that changes."
Pew Forum study indicated that 14 percent of South Carolina residents
do not express an absolute belief in God, and 30 percent disagreed that
"religion is very important to their lives." According to the
study, South Carolina is the second most religious state in the nation-tied
with Alabama-and falls behind only Mississippi.
"When I ran for governor of South Carolina in 1990 to challenge the provision in the South Carolina Constitution that prohibited atheists from holding public office, there were no local atheist or humanist groups," Silverman said. "It is now so gratifying for me to see many active groups in South Carolina, and that a chapter is being launched to protect and defend the rights of all nontheists in South Carolina."
According to a press release, statistics indicate Americans are tired of religion being inserted into secular government, and state chapters being organized around the country will lobby to halt such legislation.
C of C team works on developing computer-based instruments
research project at the College of Charleston is expected to lead to computer
laptop orchestra that combines music with computer programming.
"It takes years to master playing a guitar or violin, but these computer-based musical instruments will be much easier for beginners to play," Manaris says. "We do not want to replace traditional instruments, our goal is to engage more people in musical performance. Plus, they offer versatility. They can be used by a single performer or by multiple performers in ensembles, like in a Laptop or iPad orchestra. There is also the opportunity for a mixture of traditional instruments and computer instruments."
This project, partially funded by the National Science Foundation and Google, is conducted in the context of the computing in the arts (CITA) major, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Computer Science and the School of the Arts. CITA combines creativity, problem solving, and computational thinking through an interdisciplinary curriculum of courses offered by computer science, music, art history, studio art, and theatre and four synthesis courses.
SCRA's Mahoney is finalist for major non-profit award
Bill Mahoney, CEO of SCRA, has been selected as a finalist for non-profit executive of the year by the 2012 American Business Awards. The national award, also known as "The Stevie," recognizes achievements and contributions of businesses worldwide.
The overall winner will be announced later today at a New York banquet. Finalists were determined in preliminary judging during April and May, and more than 140 executives participated in the judging process.
More than 3,000 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Most Innovative Company of the Year, Management Team of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others.
2, 1862, anxious to capture Charleston, the "seedbed of secession,"
Union Major General David Hunter traveled with 6,600 troops from Port
Royal to the Stono River and landed on James Island at Grimball Plantation.
Over the next several days, additional Union troops arrived by transport
and by crossing John's Island to reach the Stono River.
Hunter returned to Port Royal, leaving General Henry Benham in command, but with instructions not to advance and attack. Contrary to his orders, after being shelled by Confederate artillery, Benham decided to advance, if only to capture the Confederate guns harassing him.
Benham ordered the Union troops to fall in at 2 a.m. on June 16, organizing them into two columns. The first column, thirty-five hundred men made up of six regiments with engineers, cavalry and artillery commanded by Brigadier General Isaac Stevens, was to serve as the assault group. The second column with thirty-one hundred troops was formed on the left under the command of Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright. The plan was for the first column to make a bayonet attack on the Tower Battery at first light.
Confederate Colonel Thomas G. Lamar was serving as superintendent for the construction of the Secessionville battery. His crew worked into the night, trying to finish preparations should they suffer a Union attack. While the Union troops advanced, Lamar and his troops slept in place on the Tower Battery.
As the Union troops crossed a cotton field in front of the Tower Battery, Lamar awoke to see them just 50 yards from his position. With no time to awaken his troops, he pulled the lanyard of a Columbiad ready with grapeshot. An intense fight ensued. The peninsula came to a bottleneck just 125 yards wide in front of the Tower Battery, making it difficult for the reserves in the second brigade to advance in support.
The Pee Dee Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel A.D. Smith and the Charleston Battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel P.C. Gaillard rushed to support Lamar and his troops. The Eighth Michigan reached the parapet of the battery but was repulsed. In the attack, Colonel Lamar suffered a serious neck wound and placed Gaillard in command of the battery.
With the second brigade, including the Highlanders, finally engaged, the Union troops made a second advance on the battery but were again repulsed. In the fierce hand-to-hand fighting that ensued, Gaillard was wounded, leaving Major Wagner in command of the Confederate position.
New Hampshire and Third Rhode Island of the second column moved across
a parallel peninsula (modern day Seaside Plantation) separated by a creek
and fired on the rear of the Tower Battery. The Charleston Battalion moved
to confront that threat. Colonel McEnnery and his Fourth Louisiana also
rushed to join the fight, screaming "Remember Butler!" as they
charged. (Union General Benjamin "Beast" Butler had just occupied
New Orleans a month earlier.)
The defeated Union troops retreated to Grimball Plantation and Sol Legare Island. On June 27 they received orders to abandon James Island. By July 9, 1862, the evacuation was complete.
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Summer begins at 7:09 p.m. Wednesday and we thought you might want to celebrate the longest day of the year in ways that people do all over the globe:
Parade. Have a mermaid parade in your neighborhood like they do in Brooklyn when residents have the Coney Island Mermaid Parade -- their version of a Mardi Gras parade. In Brazil, people all over celebrate the Festival of St. John on this day (which happens to be the start of winter in the southern hemisphere.)
Light a bonfire. While it's a pagan custom to light a bonfire, this is one we won't be doing. It's just too hot and mosquito-ey to be outside at night.
Go to a festival. In Sweden, Midsummer is the season's most popular festival and celebrated as a national holiday. To emulate what happens in Sweden, you can decorate your houses -- inside and outside -- with wreaths and flower garlands. Then you can do some pole-dancing around a midsummer pole. (If I remember correctly, Swedes also drink a lot during this celebration.)
Have a feast. To celebrate the day Scottish style, have a big hearty feast with traditional food (and offerings) of bannocks, lamb or fish.
Make a pilgrimage. Travel to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, where pagans have gathered for centuries.
Baseball and midsummer
"It is summer,
it is the solstice
cheering, the crowd
7 p.m., June 19. Charleston County Council will give third reading
to its 2012-13 budget during a special meeting at the Lonnie Hamilton
Building. Council members also may take action on a military consultant
to help prevent base closure. Agenda. Location: 4045 Bridge View Drive,
North Charleston. Map
(NEW) Parks for Tomorrow: Six meetings across the county between June 19 and July 26. Charleston County Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on topics including parks, recreation and trails to incorporate into the master plan for the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission. Meetings are scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at these times and locations: June 19, West Ashley (West Ashley High School cafeteria); June 20, Mount Pleasant (Wando High School Palmetto Room); June 21, North Charleston (North Charleston High School auditorium); July 24, Charleston (Burke High School media center); July 25, Yonges Island (Baptist Hill High School cafeteria); July 26, McClellanville (St. James Santee Elementary School). More info.
5 p.m. to 8 p.m., June 21, downtown Summerville. The monthly excursion
will feature live performances on Hutchinson Square, an art walk and classical
guitar music. The Vintage Actors Ensemble will offer a dramatic reading.
Special deals at local restaurants and shops. More.
(NEW)Juneteenth: 11 a.m., June 23, Jenkins Orphanage, 3923 Azalea Drive, North Charleston. Celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation at this Freedom Festival offered by the Lowcountry Juneteenth Association. More: 843.552.9086.
CALENDAR: ONGOING AND SOON
Day Parade: 10:30 a.m., June 28, Washington Park near Charleston
City Hall. Parade-goers who want to celebrate the 236th patriot victory
in the Battle of Fort Moultrie will meet in Washington Park and process
to White Point Gardens at 11 a.m. More and RSVP: Charleston Library Society,
(NEW) Uncle Sam Jam: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., July 4, Mount Pleasant Pier. Celebrate the Fourth of July as you dance to live classic oldies and beach music performed by Permanent Vacation. Beverages will be available for purchase. As only 800 tickets will be sold, advance purchase is recommended. Fee: $10/$8 CCR (Charleston County Resident). More info online or phone 843-795-4386.
Homegrown Concert: Aug. 17-18, Family Circle Magazine Stadium, Daniel Island. Hootie & The Blowfish will host the 10th annual HomeGrown Concert to raise back-to-school supplies for the Charleston County School District. Tickets ($31) are on sale at Ticketmaster outlets. More online.
Through Aug. 17, Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street, College
of Charleston. This three-month exhibit of the art of Bernice Mitchell
Tate is a material culture, historic, fine craft, and art installation
exhibition honoring the collective spirit of female identity and African-American
womanhood. The exhibit serves as a personal tribute, a "herstory",
recognizing the life and times of Tate's mother, the late Veronica Robinson-Mitchell
of Sheldon, South Carolina. Furthermore, it is a celebration of Lowcountry
culture and authentic African-American Gullah-Geechee heritage. More info:
Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Learn more online.
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