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Walter Edgar's Journal
Walter Edgar's Journal
News & Music Stations: Fri, 12-1 pm; Sat, 7 - 8 am | News & Talk Stations: Fri, 12-1 pm; Sun, 4-5 pm

Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South.

In 2021, Walter Edgar's Journal celebrates 21 years on South Carolina Public Radio. As part of the celebration, we are delving into the archive to offer a selection of encores of notable episodes, curated by Dr. Edgar.

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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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Latest Episodes
  • Shrimp, one of our most delicious food sources, was once only considered worthy of bait. In her new book, Shrimp Tales: Small Bites of History (2022, Primedia eLaunch), author Beverly Bowers Jennings tells the fascinating story of the shrimp industry, from the shrimp boats and their captains to fishing family lore, tasty recipes and more.Jennings talks with Walter Edgar about what she learned in a decade spent interviewing shrimpers and others associated with commercial shrimping to produce permanent exhibits for the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center and the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head. That work served as the basis of Shrimp Tales, a book that reveals the old ways of shrimping and celebrates today’s awakening about the foods we eat and the people who make it all happen.
  • Early in the twentieth century, for-profit companies such as Duke Power and South Carolina Electric and Gas brought electricity to populous cities and towns across South Carolina, while rural areas remained in the dark. It was not until the advent of publicly owned electric cooperatives in the 1930s that the South Carolina countryside was gradually introduced to the conveniences of life with electricity. Today, electric cooperatives serve more than a quarter of South Carolina's citizens and more than seventy percent of the state's land area.In his book, Empowering Communities: How Electric Cooperatives Transformed Rural South Carolina (USC Press, 2022), Dr. Lacy K. Ford and co-author Jared Bailey tell the story of the rise of "public" power – electricity serviced by member-owned cooperatives and sanctioned by federal and state legislation. It is a complicated saga, encompassing politics, law, finance, and rural economic development, of how the cooperatives helped bring fundamental and transformational change to the lives of rural people in South Carolina, from light to broadband.Ford talks with Dr. Edgar about how rural electrification , combined with the paving of roads, and funding of public schools, helped transform bring the Palmetto State into the modern world.
  • “In the most barren inhospitable unhealthy part of North America, opposed by the most savage, inveterate perfidious cruel Enemy, with zeal and with Bayonets only, it was resolv’d to follow Green’s Army, to the end of the World.” So wrote British general Charles O’Hara about the epic confrontation between Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis during the winter of 1780-81. Only Greene’s starving, threadbare Continentals stood between Cornwallis and control of the South—and a possible end to the American rebellion.This week on Walter Edgar's Journal, author Andrew Waters talks with Walter Edgar about a compelling chapter of the American Revolution. Waters is author of the book, To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan (2021, Westholme).
  • In his book, The Grim Years: Settling South Carolina, 1670-1720 (2020, University of SC Press), Dr. John Navin explains how eight English aristocrats, the Lords Proprietors, came to possess the vast Carolina land grant and then enacted elaborate plans to recruit and control colonists as part of a grand moneymaking scheme. In his conversation with Walter Edgar, Navin tells of a cadre of men who rose to political and economic prominence, while ordinary colonists, enslaved Africans, and indigenous groups became trapped in a web of violence and oppression.Threatened by the Native Americans they exploited, by the Africans they enslaved, and by their French and Spanish rivals, white South Carolinians lived in continual fear. For some it was the price they paid for financial success. But for most there were no riches, and the possibility of a sudden, violent death was overshadowed by the misery of their day-to-day existence.
  • The Open Space Institute’s mission is to protect scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands, and sustain communities. Over the past 40 years, the institute has saved 2,285,092 acres of land through direct acquisition, grants, and loans. Having begun by focusing on land in New York State, they have in recent years saved significant, complex, and large-scale tracts in South Carolina, Florida, and New Jersey through direct acquisitions.In December 2022, the Open Space Institute (OSI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced the purchase of three properties along the Santee River in South Carolina, expanding the largest contiguous block of protected coastal lands in the state. OSI’s Vice-President and Director of the Southeast, Maria Whitehead, joins Walter Edgar to talk about the acquisition and about the Institute’s plans for land protection in the state.
  • In 2020, Maj. General (Ret.) William F. Grimsley became South Carolina's first Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs. From the beginning, Grimsley and his staff have defined the purpose of the new Department of Veterans’ Affairs as leading and enabling “a state-wide coalition of partners to create and sustain an environment in which Veterans and their families can thrive as valued and contributing members of the South Carolina community and the Nation.”Grimsley talks with Walter Edgar about how the Department strives to achieve that purpose and the way it is expanding and building partnerships to do so.
  • For many years scholars made assumptions about how Europeans traded with West Africans for other, enslaved Africans, about how many voyages were made by slave ships to the English colonies in North America before 1808, and about why the institution of slavery almost died out in New England. Beginning in the late 1960s, however, a movement began that challenged these assumptions and the viewpoints of generations of Euro-centric scholars began to give way to work by data-driven historians.Dr. Donald Wright, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York College at Cortland, is one of the historians who was part of this sea change in scholarship. He spent decades writing about African history, beginning as graduate student collecting oral histories in Gambia, as well as African American history, and Atlantic history. His books include Oral Traditions from the Gambia and African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins Through the American Revolution.This week Walter Edgar talks with Donald Wright about the myths about and some of the hard facts of the Atlantic slave trade.
  • In his new book, Liberty is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution (2021, Simon and Schuster), Dr. Woody Holton gives a sweeping reassessment of the American Revolution, showing how the Founders were influenced by overlooked Americans—women, Native Americans, African Americans, and religious dissenters.Using more than a thousand eyewitness accounts, Holton explores countless connections between the Patriots of 1776 and other Americans whose passion for freedom often brought them into conflict with the Founding Fathers.Woody Holton joins Walter Edgar to talk about this “hidden history.”
  • In his book, The Slow Undoing: The Federal Courts and the Long Struggle for Civil Rights in South Carolina, Dr. Stephen H. Lowe argues for a reconsideration of the role of the federal courts in the civil rights movement. It places the courts as a central battleground at the intersections of struggles over race, law, and civil rights. During the long civil rights movement, Black and White South Carolinians used the courts as a venue to contest the meanings of the constitution, justice, equality, and citizenship.Lowe joins Walter Edgar to discuss how African Americans used courts and direct action in tandem to bring down legal segregation throughout the long civil rights era.
  • Stephen Atkins Swails is a forgotten American hero. A free Black in the North before the Civil War began, Swails exhibited such exemplary service in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry that he became the first African American commissioned as a combat officer in the United States military. After the war, Swails remained in South Carolina, where he held important positions in the Freedmen’s Bureau, helped draft a progressive state constitution, served in the state senate, and secured legislation benefiting newly liberated Black citizens. Swails remained active in South Carolina politics after Reconstruction until violent Redeemers drove him from the state.Gordon C. Rhea tells Swails' story in his new biography, Stephen A. Swails: Black Freedom Fighter in the Civil War and Reconstruction (2021, LSU Press. Rhea talks with Walter Edgar about the saga of this indomitable human being who confronted deep-seated racial prejudice in various institutions but nevertheless reached significant milestones in the fight for racial equality.