Walter Edgar's Journal

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Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

Walter Edgar's Journal, Podcast Archive, May 2008 - August 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed on Walter Edgar's Journal are not necessarily those of South Carolina Public Radio.

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Detail of the White House copy of the lost 1868 painting. Sherman, Grant, Lincoln, and Porter aboard the River Queen on March 27th & March 28th, 1865.
George Peter Alexander Healy

In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the need to conclude “the unfinished work which they who fought here so nobly advanced.”  In his second Inaugural Address, he spoke in similar vein: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” 

Detail from Art Studio, by Thereas Pollak.
The Johnson Collection

Spanning the decades between the late 1890s and early 1960s, The Johnson Collection’s new exhibition and its companion book, Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection, examine the particularly complex challenges Southern women artists confronted in a traditionally conservative region during a period in which women’s social, cultural, and political roles were being redefined and reinterpreted.

Richard T. Greener, circa 1900; by J. H. Cunningham. In The Colored American, February 24, 1900.
The Colored American, February 24, 1900 / Library of Congress/Chronicling America

(Originally broadcast 06/01/18) - Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. The first black graduate of Harvard College, he became the first black faculty member at the University of South Carolina, during Reconstruction. He was even the first black US diplomat to a predominately-white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association.

Dr. Cleveland Sellers
sc.edu

In 1968 state troopers gunned down black students protesting the segregation of a South Carolina bowling alley, killing three and injuring 28. The Orangeburg Massacre was one of the most violent moments of the Southern civil rights movement, and only one person served prison time in its aftermath: a young black man by the name of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Many years later, the state would recognize that Sellers was a scapegoat in that college campus tragedy and would issue a full pardon.

Dr. William Dufford
Courtesy of USC Press

(Originally broadcast 04/06/18) - Immortalized in the writings of his most famous student, best-selling author Pat Conroy, veteran education administrator William E. Dufford has led an the life of a stalwart champion for social justice and equal access for all to the empowerment of a good public education. In My Tour Through the Asylum: A Southern Integrationist's Memoir (USC Press, 2017), Dufford and his collaborators, Aïda Rogers and Salley McInerney, recount the possibilities that unfold when people work through their differences toward a common good.

Loray Mill workers,Gastonia, N.C. 11/7/1908
Lewis Hines/National Archives

New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash’s 2017 novel, The Last Ballad (2017, Willamm Morrow) is set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. It chronicles an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill; The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice.

Pat Conroy and Katherine Clark
Tamika Moore/Courtesy of the author

Pat Conroy’s memoirs and autobiographical novels contain a great deal about his life, but there is much he hasn’t revealed with readers until now. My Exaggerated Life (2018, University of South Carolina Press) is the product of a special collaboration between this great American author and oral biographer Katherine Clark, who recorded two hundred hours of conversations with Conroy before he passed away in 2016. In the spring and summer of 2014, the two spoke for an hour or more on the phone every day.

Fud Livingston
Discogs

Charleston’s Fud Livingston, 'Jazz Age' arranger, composer, and musician, made memorable music.

(Originally broadcast 05/18/18) - Joseph Anthony “Fud” Livingston, born in Charleston, SC, in 1906, was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger, and composer who played with some of the most renowned musicians of the Jazz Age, including Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey brothers, Tommy and Jimmy. He arranged for Broadway and wrote songs, the most famous of which is “I’m Through with Love.”

Noel Polk, Tudier Harris, and Walter Edgar, taping "Take on the South."
SCETV/SC Public Radio

This month, a PBS series, The Great American Read, celebrates the joy of reading and the books we love. Celebrities, authors, and book lovers reveal the novels that have affected their lives. And, the national vote gets under way, to decide America’s Best-Loved Novel.

Back in 2009, SCETV's Take on the South took a similar poll, and  asked the question, "What was the most influential 20th-Century Southern Novel?"

Soapstone Baptist Church sign, Liberia, S.C.
Soapstone Baptist Church via Facebook

In 2007, while researching mountain culture in upstate South Carolina, anthropologist John M. Coggeshall stumbled upon the small community of Liberia in the Blue Ridge foothills. There he met Mable Owens Clarke and her family, the remaining members of a small African American community still living on land obtained immediately after the Civil War. In his new book, Liberia, South Carolina: An African American Appalachian Community

U.S. National Archives

What are the guarantees of free speech found in the Constitution of the United States? Are there limits to free speech? And what are the responsibilities of citizens who exercise their right to free speech? Dr. Michael Lipscomb of Winthrop University, talks with Dr. Edgar about these and other questions.

David Mark, via Pixabay [CC0 1.0]

Crossroads: Change in Rural America is a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths and to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. Sponsored by SC Humanities in partnership with local communities, Crossroads: Change in Rural America will tour South Carolina in 2018 – 2019, visiting six communities: Union, Denmark, Newberry, Hopkins, Barnwell, and Dillon.

Sissiertta Jones
Napoleon Sarony/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institite

In August of 2013, Walter Edgar's Journal featured a conversation with Maureen D. Lee, about her biography Sissieretta Jones, "The Greatest Singer of Her Race," 1868-1933 (USC Press, 2012), which told the forgotten story of the pioneering African American diva whose remarkable career paved the way for many who followed her.

Spinners and doffers in Lancaster Cotton Mills. Lancaster, S.C., circa 1912.
National Archives/Hine, Lewis Wickes

(Originally broadcast 03/09/18) - South Carolina in 1918 was still struggling with the changes to its economic and social systems brought about by the Civil War and Reconstruction. The United States’ entry into World War I affected the daily work life of South Carolinians and the state’s economy in a way that was unique to our state.

Written on print: Spartanburg, S.C. Saxon Mills; "Girl workers in the half-time mill school."
Library of Congress/Goldsberry Collection of open-air school photographs.

(Originally broadcast 03/02/18) - There were progressives in South Carolina in 1918. And the progressive movement in this state was different from the movement in the Northeast. However, the United States’ entrance into World War I provided an extra momentum to the movement that led to some fundamental changes the interaction between state and federal authority that lasted through the 20th century.

Unidentified African American soldier in uniform with marksmanship qualification badge and campaign hat, with cigarette holder in front of painted backdrop.
Library of Congress

(Originally broadcast 02/23/18) - Upon the United States' entrance into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson told the nation that the war was being fought to "make the world safe for democracy." For many African-American South Carolinians, the chance to fight in this war was a way to prove their citizenship, in hopes of changing things for the better at home.

(Originally broadcast 02/09/18) - With the United States’ entrance into World War I, three Army training bases were set up in South Carolina. The social and economic impact on a state still suffering from the devastation of the Civil War was dramatic. Three infantry divisions, including support personnel, swelled the Upstate and Midlands population by 90,000. On the coast, recruits flocked to Charleston’s Navy base. And some of those trainees were African Americans, which caused political turmoil and civil strife in a Jim Crow state.

Detail from a poster showing a Red Cross nurse with an American flag and the Red Cross symbol. (Artist: Howard Chandler Christie)
Library of Congress

(Originally broadcast 02/02/18) - When the United States entered the First World War in 1918 they women of South Carolina figuratively rolled up their sleeves, and went to work to support their state and their country. At this time, the average woman in the state was black, lived in a rural setting, worked in agriculture or as a domestic worker. White women, while more likely to be in the middle class, were still largely living in rural areas or small towns, and working in agriculture or in textile mills.

The Fireproof Building, designed by Robert Mills (1822-27), home of the South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, SC.
Spencer Means [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

(Originally broadcast 03/23/18) - The South Carolina Historical Society’s headquarters in downtown Charleston, SC, the historic "Fireproof Building," is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, with plans to re-open in summer 2018. While continuing to be the headquarters for the SC Historical Society, the building will also house a museum of South Carolina history.

Robert Cox (with Maria Hinojosa, WGBH, Boston)
Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, WGBH, Boston

(Originally broadcast 01/19/18) - The Buenos Aires Herald ceased publication in July of 2017, almost 141 years after its founding. The paper became famous, however, only in the latter part of the 20th century, for exposing the forced disappearances of Argentinians during the 1976-83 military dictatorship. Other newspapers in the country whitewashed this chapter of Argentina’s history.

Cover photo of a bird-filled sky above a line of trees at sunset.
Kathleen Robbins

(Originally broacast 01/12/17) - Ed Madden, Columbia's Poet Laureate, writes that poet Tim Conroy “is a theologian of the best kind, a theologian of the ordinary.”

John Slaughter, Superintendent of US Park Service's Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Parks group.
SCETV/Original SC

(Originally broadcast 10/13/17) - The Southern Campaign was critical in determining the outcome of the American Revolutionary War, yet the South’s importance has been downplayed in most historical accounts to date.

D.W. Griffith, director (1923)
Library of Congress

(Originally broadcast 11/10/17) - How did the American South contribute to the development of cinema? And how did film shape the modern South? In Fade In, Crossroads: A History of the Southern Cinema (2017, Oxford University Press), Robert Jackson tells the story of the relationships between southerners and motion pictures from the silent era through the golden age of Hollywood. Jackson talks with Walter Edgar about the profound consequences of the coincidence of the rise and fall of the American film industry with the rise and fall of the Jim Crow era.

South Carolina's Constitution of 1861 underwent a lamination preservation process. Archivists no longer use the process after it was realized the laminate material degrades into an acid, doing more damage to the documents.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

(Originally broadcast 10/20/17) - Millions of historic documents in the U.S., from presidential papers to personal slave journals, are facing an issue apart from age: a preservation method that has backfired. The process of laminating documents between sheets of cellulose acetate film, widely practiced from the 1950s through the 1970s, has now been determined to actually contribute to the deterioration of acid-containing paper.

Okra for sale at the North Charleston Farmers' Market.
Ryan Johnson [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

The American South has experienced remarkable change over the past half century. Black voter registration has increased, the region’s politics have shifted, and in-migration has increased its population many fold. At the same time, many outward signs of regional distinctiveness have faded. But two professors of political science write that these changes have allowed for new types of southern identity to emerge.

American Flag from the Revolutionary War
iStock

Martyr of the American Revolution: The Execution of Isaac Hayne, South Carolinian (2017, USC Press) examines the events that set an American militia colonel on a disastrous collision course with two British officers, his execution in Charleston, and the repercussions that extended from the battle lines of South Carolina to the Continental Congress and across the Atlantic to the halls of the British parliament. Author C.L. "Chip" Bragg joins Walter Edgar to talk about circumstances that led to an act that sparked perhaps the most notable controversy of the war.

Richard T. Greener, circa 1900; by J. H. Cunningham. In The Colored American, February 24, 1900.
The Colored American, February 24, 1900 / Library of Congress/Chronicling America

Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. The first black graduate of Harvard College, he became the first black faculty member at the University of South Carolina, during Reconstruction. He was even the first black US diplomat to a predominately-white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association. Yet he died in obscurity, his name barely remembered.

Image of Gen. Andrew Pickens, 1739 - 1817. A photo of an oil painting hung in Fort Hill in Clemson, South Carolina.
blahedo [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

(Originally broadcast 10/03/17) - In his book, The Life and Times of General Andrew Pickens: Revolutionary War Hero, American Founder (2017, UNC Press), Dr. Rod Andrew, Jr., of Clemson University, explores the life of the hard-fighting South Carolina militia commander of the American Revolution, was the hero of many victories against British and Loyalist forces. In this book, Andrew offers an authoritative and comprehensive biography of Pickens the man, the general, the planter, and the diplomat.

Fud Livingston
Discogs

Charleston’s Fud Livingston, 'Jazz Age' arranger, composer, and musician, made memorable music.

Joseph Anthony “Fud” Livingston, born in Charleston, SC, in 1906, was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger, and composer who played with some of the most renowned musicians of the Jazz Age, including Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey brothers, Tommy and Jimmy. He arranged for Broadway and wrote songs, the most famous of which is “I’m Through with Love.”

Becky Stone as Harriet Tubman.
Courtesy of Greenville Chautauqua

The topic of this year’s History Alive festival presented by Greenville Chautauqua is “Courage.” Historical interpreters will appear in character under the Chautauqua tent bringing to life the stores of Alice Paul, Francis Marion, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, and Winston Churchill.

Greenville Chautauqua’s Caroline McIntyre joins Dr. Edgar along with historical interpreters Becky Stone (Harriet Tubman) and Leslie Goddard (Clara Barton and Alice Paul) to talk about his summer’s History Alive festival.

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