A comprehensive book of essays about the history of African Americans at the University of South Carolina set to launch on MLK Day
The history of the desegregation of the University of South Carolina is, well—complicated. There were multiple desegregations attempts, the construction of university’s oldest buildings made possible with the labor of enslaved workers—revelations not found in the history books for the masses to read. Those gaping omissions didn’t sit right with the editors of “Invisible No More: The African American Experience at the University of South Carolina,” a new volume that reveals the many ways that African Americans shaped the development of the university.
Robert Greene, Ph.d, UofSC, 2019 and Tyler Parry, Ph.d, UofSC, 2014 both in history, were motivated to compile their book through their convictions that the history of Black Americans’ contributions to UofSC deserved wider attention.
Greene said examining the history of the UofSC illustrates a greater truth about the state of South Carolina. “It is a place seen by many, understandably, as a bastion of conservatism and reaction, but it is also home to a rich tradition of radical organizing and progressive change. USC's Black history represents that tension.”
While conducting his research of the project, Parry said he found that the university’s history was known only by a few faculty members. “Up to about five-ten years ago, there were few discernable markers that discussed the history of Black people on campus, and many of the buildings still bear the names of slaveholders and segregationists. The rich history of African Americans at UofSC is nearly erased from the campus landscape.”
The book’s essays on slavery and Reconstruction, very vividly illustrate the painful legacies of racism. Yet, Parry said he wants readers to find inspiration in the stories, “I want readers to understand the very real dangers of systemic racism, and how, if it is not challenged and combated, it can have devastating consequences for the citizens of states and countries. Additionally, I want them to find inspiration from those historical figures who fought for freedom and refused to accept the status quo, which is a running theme throughout the book.”
Greene wants readers to learn how important UofSC's history is to the broader histories of the South and the United States.
“USC's Reconstruction history represents arguably the greatest missed opportunity in American history. The attempts to desegregate the school in the 20th century showcase some of the arguments over tactics that were integral to the Civil Rights Movement,” Greene said.
The University of South Carolina Press published “Invisible No More” and writes this about the book in its release:
“Like the broader history of South Carolina, the history of African Americans at the University of South Carolina is about more than their mere existence at the institution. It is about how they molded the university into something greater than the sum of its parts. Throughout the university's history, Black students, faculty, and staff have pressured for greater equity and inclusion. At various times they did so with the support of white allies, other times in the face of massive resistance; oftentimes, there were both.”
An “Invisible No More” virtual talk and roundtable with Greene and Parry is set for 4 – 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 17 via Zoom. Julian Williams, UofSC vice-president for diversity, will provide the welcome, and Randy Grimes, chair of the UofSC Black Alumni Council, will offer opening remarks. The roundtables will be moderated by current students Kayla King and Hannah White, both minors in AFAM Studies.
Attendees can register for the event online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/invisible-no-more-book-launch-and-roundtable-tickets-216380549047
This event is part of a year-long celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the AFAM Studies Program at UofSC. Copies of “Invisible No More” can be purchased at the campus bookstore.