Walter Edgar's Journal

All Stations: Fri, 12-1 pm | News & Talk Stations: Sun, 4-5 pm

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

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

North Inlet - Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Aerial view of meandering tidal creeks and extensive pristine marshes in North Inlet Estuary. Vicinity of Georgetown, South Carolina.
NOAA Photo Library [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

In their new book, A Wholly Admirable Thing (2018, Evening Post Books), Virginia and Dana Beach chronicle ten stories that showcase the rise of the Coastal Conservation League to one of the country’s most tenacious and innovative conservation groups. The book highlights transformational initiatives undertaken by the Conservation League over three decades in partnership with community activists up and down the South Carolina coast.

File photo of a veranda on an old southern home.
Gretta Blankenship via Pixabay

In his book, The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southernness, 1960–1980 (2018, UGA Press), Zachary J. Lechner bridges the fields of southern studies and southern history in an effort to discern how conceptions of a tradition-bound, "timeless" South shaped Americans' views of themselves and their society's political and cultural fragmentations, following the turbulent 1960s.

Willie Earle is shown in a police mug shot from a prior arrest, was taken from the jail and lynched by a group of whites in 1947.
Greenville Police Dept

Before daybreak on February 17, 1947, twenty-four-year-old Willie Earle, an African American man arrested for the murder of a Greenville, South Carolina, taxi driver named T. W. Brown, was abducted from his jail cell by a mob, and then beaten, stabbed, and shot to death. An investigation produced thirty-one suspects, most of them cabbies seeking revenge for one of their own.

The police and FBI obtained twenty-six confessions. Remarkably, the names and photos of the defendents were published in a Greenville newspaper.

Chasing the Moon

Jul 1, 2019
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson (left center) and Vice President Spiro Agnew (right center) view the liftoff of Apollo 11.
Courtesy of NASA, July 16, 1969

Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke joins documentary producer/director Robert Stone  to talk with Walter Edgar about the Space Race of the 1960s, and about making the documentary Chasing the Moon.

"Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan"
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.

On January 17, 1781, at Cowpens, South Carolina, the notorious British cavalry officer Banastre Tarleton and his legion were destroyed along with the cream of Lord Cornwallis’s troops. The man who planned and executed this stunning American victory was Daniel Morgan. Once a barely literate backcountry laborer, Morgan now stood at the pinnacle of American martial success.

Tarawa, Kiribati - U.S. Marines storm Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. The battle (November 20-23, 1943) was one of the bloodiest of WWII.
(U.S. Marine Corps Courtesy Photo by Warrant Officer Obie Newcomb, Jr.)

In November 1943, Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr. was mortally wounded while leading a successful assault on a critical Japanese fortification on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. The brutal, bloody 76-hour battle would ultimately claim the lives of more than 1,100 Marines and 5,000 Japanese forces.

"Return of a Foraging Party to Philippi, Virginia"
Illustration from Harper's Weekly, August 17, 1861/NY State Library

In War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War, her path-breaking work on the American Civil War, Joan E. Cashin explores the struggle between armies and civilians over the resources necessary to wage war.

Andrew Jackson
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson returned to the Oval Office, so to speak, in 2017, when President Donald Trump hung the 7th President’s portrait there. And, Jackson will return, so to speak, to Upstate South Carolina in June at Greenville Chautauqua’s History Alive festival.

Dr. J. Brent Morris
USC Beaufort

(Originally broadcast 03/10/17) - In this final installment of public Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828, Dr. Brent Morris, associate professor of history and chair of the humanities at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, talks with Dr. Walter Edgar about the unification of the a divided South Carolina, and its evolution from a strongly nationally-oriented states to a leader in the states' rights movement.

All Stations: Fri, May 31, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, Jun 02, 4 pm

(Originally broadcast 02/24/17) - Join us for the third public conversation in a four-part series of Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828. Dr. Lacy Ford, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences University of South Carolina, and author of Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800-1860 and Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South, will discuss the ideology and public policy of slavery in the American republic.

(Originally broadcast 02/17/17) - For the second lecture in this four-part series of Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828. Dr. Larry Watson discusses slavery in South Carolina. Professor Watson is Associate Professor of History & Adjunct Professor of History South Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina. He is author of numerous articles on African American life in the American South.

Mature cotton field, Cherokee County, S.C.
Matin LaBar [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr

(Originally broadcast 02/10/17) - Dr. Peter Coclanis, the Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professor & Director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, joins Dr. Edgar for the first of a series of Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828. Professor Coclanis, author of The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1670-1920, will discuss the historical importance of cotton to the state's economy.

Radio's Golden Age

Apr 29, 2019
Photograph of (l to r) Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Mary Livingstone, Jack Benny, Don Wilson, and Mel Blanc - most of the cast of The Jack Benny Program.
World Wide Photos via Wikipedia

The term “Old Time Radio” often refers to the programming and performers of a “golden age” in the medium, beginning after World War I and lasting well into the 1950s. Guest Bill Owen joins Walter Edgar to talk about this golden age on this week’s program. Owen is a writer and a retired radio/television announcer now living in Greenville, SC, whose career spans six decades.  His has written or co-authored several books, including Radio's Golden Age: The Programs and the Personalities and The Big Broadcast.

South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol.
George N. Barnard, U.S. War Department/National Archives

(Originally broadcast 03/24/17) - South Carolina in the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras (USC Press, 2016) is an anthology of the most enduring and important scholarly articles about the Civil War and Reconstruction era published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association.

The Return of Hemp

Apr 15, 2019
Bails of hemp at a warehouse of the Columbian Rope Company, Auburn, NY, August 6, 1918.
The National Archives. Source: The U.S. War Department

Hemp was once one of the crops grown in South Carolina and exported to the world. That changed, however, when enforcement of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of hemp illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, through imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp.

The late Senator Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings
U.S. Senate

Former S.C. Governor and U.S. Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings died on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at the age of 97. A Democrat, he held elective office for over fifty years. In 2008, Hollings talked with Walter Edgar about his life in politics and government, and about how to "make government work" again.

The first black U.S. senator and first black House members were elected by Southern states during Reconstruction.
Library of Congress

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has said, "Reconstruction is one of the most important and consequential chapters in American history. It is also among the most overlooked, misunderstood and misrepresented." Gates' new four-part television series for PBS, Reconstruction: America after the Civil War begins it run on April 9 on SCETV.

Detail of the title page of A History of Carolina presented to North Carolina in 1831 by James Madison. The book is now part of the collection of the N.C. Museum of History.
NC Dept of Natural and Cultural Resources

In 1700, a young man named John Lawson left London and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to make a name for himself. For reasons unknown, he soon undertook a two-month journey through the still-mysterious Carolina backcountry. His travels yielded A New Voyage to Carolina in 1709, one of the most significant early American travel narratives, rich with observations about the region's environment and Indigenous people.

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

(Originally broadcast 09/21/18)

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

A 1903 photograph of family and relatives of Noah Benenhaley (1860-1939) and his wife, Rosa Benenhaley (1857-1937), both descendants of Joseph Benenhaley.
Courtesy of the Greg Thompson Collection

(Originally broadcast 11/30/18) - Despite its reputation as a melting pot of ethnicities and races, the United States has a well-documented history of immigrants who have struggled through isolation, segregation, discrimination, oppression, and assimilation. South Carolina is home to one such group—known historically and derisively as “the Turks”—which can trace its oral history back to Joseph Benenhaley, an Ottoman refugee from Old World conflict. According to its traditional narrative, Benenhaley served with Gen. Thomas Sumter in the Revolutionary War.

The Detroit tribune, November 23, 1946: a notice that Isaac Woodard will speak at an NAACP event.
Library of Congress, from Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library

On February 12, 1946, Sergeant Isaac Woodard, a returning, decorated African American veteran of World War II, was removed from a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, after he challenged the bus driver’s disrespectful treatment of him. Woodard, in uniform, was arrested by the local police chief, Lynwood Shull, and beaten and blinded while in custody.

Salley, A.S. The Flag of the State of South Carolina. Columbia, S.C. : Printed for the Commission by the State Co., 1915.
SC Dept of Archives and History

Believe it or not, there is no standardized design for the South Carolina state flag. There are, however, historical versions which vary from period to period. And there are countless variations on shirts, decals, caps, sweatshirts – each manufacturer creates its own version.

Dr. Cleveland Sellers
sc.edu

(Originally broadcast 10/26/18) - 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.

Shrimp and grits, 21st century style.
Greg Turner [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

January and February gave us the State of the Union address and the State of the State address – important stuff. But, for a Southerner, there are specific, important areas of life in these United States that these addresses didn't cover – areas that we need to check on once in a while. So, in early 2019, what is the State of Southern Cuisine?

Is it still making inroads in the food ways of other sections of the country? Are chain restaurants affecting what people in the South call ‘Southern Food?’ Who is innovating Southern Cuisine while staying true to traditions?

Destruction at the Walled City (Intramuros district) of old Manila in May 1945, after the Battle of Manila.
Office of the Surgeon general, Dept. of the Army via Wikimedia Commons

In his book, Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila (2018, W. W. Norton), Charleston historian and author James M. Scott recounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of World War II.

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur prepared to liberate the capital city of the Phillipines in 1945, he believed that the occupying Japanese forces would retreat. Instead, determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

Andrew Jackson
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With recent controversies over the use of trade tariffs by the United States, it might be a good time to take a look back at the history of their use. It’s a complicated, often fraught history. In fact, friction between the North and South over tariffs in the early 19th century almost launched the Civil War, 30 years “early.”

A portrait of Judge J. Waities Waring hangs in the courthouse that bears his name.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Four years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, a federal judge in Charleston hatched his secret plan to end segregation in America. Julius Waties Waring was perhaps the most unlikely civil rights hero in history. An eighth-generation Charlestonian, the son of a Confederate veteran and scion of a family of slave owners, Waring was appointed to the federal bench in the early days of World War II.

The film producer, actor, and Columbia Native Julian Adams joins Walter Edgar to talk about his new film, The Last Full Measure, and to talk about his journey into the world of filmmaking. Adam’s previous features include Phantom (2013) and Amy Cook: The Spaces in Between (2009).

SCETV

This week's program is an encore of an episode aired in 2012, featuring T. Moffatt Burriss. Burriss was a former Columbia area contractor, Republican state lawmaker and American World War II battlefield hero. He died January 4, 2019 at age 99.  

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

(Originally broadcast 10/12/18) - New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash’s 2017 novel, The Last Ballad (2017, Willam 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.

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