As I am delving further into Cultural Studies, I am finding out some interesting things. So as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my blog, I have to do a service learning project. At times, these projects are geared towards social justice, meaning that awareness is brought to problems and resources are provided to address those problems. In my Cultural Studies class, we learned about the Highlander Research and Education Center, through assigned readings, a presentation made by our professor and this engaging film called, You Got to Move. For over an hour I sat there mesmerized as I watched the documentary of how Highlander was utilized to mobilize against different injustices that occurred not only in Appalachia, but in other places, particularly the Jim Crow South. Highlander actually reminded me of Penn Center on Saint Helena Island in South Carolina. I interned there a couple of summers, so I know a bit about it.
The Penn School was founded in 1862, three years before the end of the American Civil War. This normal school was a part of the Port Royal Experiment, which I kind of allude to in my book, Marshland. These philanthropists, abolitionist, and missionaries came to Beaufort after the Confederates were run off by Union soldiers. Their purpose was to prepare former slaves for freedom by teaching them to read and to learn trades. Like the Highlander, the Penn Center served as a safe place during the Civil Rights Movement where Black and White folks could convene, organize, and strategize in peace. In fact, Martin Luther King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference visited both sites. Today, the social justice purpose of Penn Center (What it is called today) is focused on preserving the Gullah culture in spite of the rapid development taking place on the Sea Islands.
One more thing before I sign off: So as I am writing this blog – in my sleep deprived state – I am strongly reminded of a particular The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Episode. Yes, I know that this is taking me off on a serious tangent, but not really. There is this episode that was first aired in 1991 (and a part of my VHS collection) called The Ethnic Tip where Vivian Banks, played by Janet Hubert, was teaching a Black History Course at Bel Air Academy. To my shock and delight, she assigns her nephew, Will Smith (Will Smith) and son, Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro) a paper on The Port Royal Experiment and the Penn School. If you want to see what episode I am talking about, you can view it here . I guess I am finding it necessary to mention The Ethnic Tip because as crazy as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air could be, it had some pretty good messages and I respect the fact that they even did an episode on such important institution of American History. I mean really, how many people actually know about places like Highlander and Penn Center?
Anyway, I am not going to give away the details, in case you have never seen it, but I will say that Aunt Viv, wouldn’t have had to tell me twice to do a 15 page paper. She might have even gotten one that was 25 pages. IJS.