My computer ate last week’s podcast (seriously), but time and technology march onward and I’ll post a new podcast in a few days. In the meantime, here’s a preview of this month’s offerings at a library near you. In May we’ll explore the stories of historic landscapes and battlefields, 148 years of two-wheeled transportation, and a bit of philosophising about the relevance of it all for the rising generations. And I’ll sneak in a preview of June as well.
As the school year draws to an end, eighth-graders throughout the state are learning about “modern” South Carolina and reviewing more than three hundred years of history they’ve learned since August. History can often seem dull in the classroom, so I’m offering a different take on the same topic. On Tuesday, May 9th, I’ll be at the John’s Island Regional Library with 8th graders posing the questions, “Is South Carolina History Relevant?” Does studying our community’s shared history serve any real practical purpose? Of course my answer is a resounding “YES,” but I’m not offering a simple flag-waving, uncritical, patriotic endorsement. Rather, I’m proposing that a lot of South Carolina’s history is in fact dark, painful, and divisive. Despite the sometimes ugly truths in our shared past, however, our community becomes stronger and more resilient when we learn the lessons of the past and face the future with a united front.
May is Bike Month across the nation, and during the second week of the month we’ll see a host of activities and events across the Lowcountry. Once again I’m proud to be partnering with Charleston Moves, our local bicycle advocacy group, to offer another program focusing on the history of bikes and cycling in the Charleston area. This year I’ll recap the highlights from previous programs, from the first appearance of the two-wheeled velocipede in Charleston to the early 1960s, and then continue the story from the advent of the fitness craze in the late 1960s to the Lowcountry Low Line in 2017. Please join us at the Main library on Wednesday, May 10th at 6 p.m. for “Celebrating 148 Years of Bicycling in Charleston.”
In a few days we’ll see a sea of white tents sprouting up on Charleston’s most popular green space, Marion Square. From Piccolo Spoleto to farmer’s markets to fashion shows, Marion Square hosts a wide variety of events that draw tens of thousands of people every year. But how many people know anything about the rich and varied history of the landscape on which they’re treading? Almost no one remembers why this space on the colonial town’s northern edge was set aside for public use, and only a handful of people know that the city of Charleston doesn’t actually own Marion Square. That’s right—the city’s most public space is not actually a public space at all. It’s a complicated story that encompasses a long-forgotten colonial fear of French invasion, a major battle of the American Revolution, a short-lived theater, state-funded police intimidation, pioneering baseball, parading soldiers, and civil rights demonstrations. For the full story in brief, please join me at the Main library on Thursday, May 25th at 6 p.m. for “A Brief History of Marion Square.”
In the fall of 2016 I presented a program marking the 310th anniversary of the invasion of South Carolina by a combined force of Spanish, French, and Native American warriors. I turned that story into a podcast earlier this year and got a lot of very positive feedback from the public. It’s a great adventure story that everyone in the Lowcountry needs to know, especially those folks living east of the Cooper River, where most of the action took place. If you missed the previous presentations, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m going to reprise that program on Saturday, June 3rd at 11 a.m., at the Mt. Pleasant Regional Library. Come out and join us as we celebrate “Invasion 1706: France and Spain vs. South Carolina.”
As always, these programs are free and open to the public!