South Carolina Humanities annually presents the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities Luncheon & Award Ceremony to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the humanities in South Carolina. 

Established in 1991, the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities recognize outstanding achievement in humanities research, teaching, and scholarship; institutional and individual participation in helping communities in South Carolina better understand our cultural heritage or ideas and issues related to the humanities; excellence defining South Carolina’s cultural life to the nation or world; and exemplary support for public humanities programs. 

The Fresh Voices in the Humanities Awards recognize individuals who are working in unique and innovative ways to use culture and history to bring people together, but whose efforts may have gone relatively unnoticed beyond their own community. 

The 2021 Governor’s Awards in the Humanities ceremony was recorded and live-streamed on YouTube on Thursday, October 21, 2021. To watch the ceremony, visit the SC Humanities YouTube channel or press play on the video player below. 

To celebrate the 30th Annual Governor’s Awards in the Humanities, South Carolina Humanities hosted a panel discussion with several of our 2021 Governor’s Awards recipients. Join Michael Allen, Jannie Harriot, and Simon Lewis as they discuss and reflect on their careers in the humanities with moderator John White, Dean of Libraries at the College of Charleston.

2021 Governor's Award in the Humanities Recipients

Michael Allen

Michael Allen has served as a National Park Ranger, an Education Specialist, and a Community Partnership Specialist for the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. A native of Kingstree, South Carolina, Allen earned a degree in History Education from South Carolina State University and began his career with the National Park Service in the summer of 1980. His career has been defined by his community activism and his deep-seated interest in our nation’s spiritual growth as it relates to history and culture. He played a major role in the National Park Service’s Gullah-Geechee Special Resource Study which examined the feasibility and suitability of establishing educational centers as well as determining ways to increase interpretation and preservation of this valuable culture. After five years of work, the final report was presented to Congress in 2005. Through the leadership of Congressman James E. Clyburn and the tireless support of Michael Allen, the U.S. Congress passed the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Act in 2006 to establish the United States’ first and only African American National Heritage Area. In 2014, the National Parks Service appointed Allen as a lead team member on the NPS Special Resource Landmark Study exploring the history and legacy of the Reconstruction Era. As a result of this groundbreaking study, a new National Park Service site called the Reconstruction Era National Monument was established by Presidential Proclamation on January 12, 2017. After more than 37 years in public service, Michael Allen retired from the National Park Service in December 2017. He currently lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and he is an Elder at Christ Temple Church of North Charleston.

Jannie Harriot

Jannie Harriot is an educator, a community leader, and a titan of cultural preservation. A native of Hartsville, South Carolina, Harriot earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Fayetteville State University. After nearly two decades of teaching in public schools and community colleges in the Carolinas, New York, and New Jersey, she returned to South Carolina in 1990 and served as executive director of the Allendale County First Steps to School Readiness. She soon became instrumental in the 1991 founding of the Butler Heritage Foundation, an organization formed by alumni of Harriot’s alma mater, Butler High School, with the mission of restoring the closed campus for public use as a community center. After they successfully petitioned the Darlington County Board of Education to deed Butler High School to the foundation for preservation, Harriot served as the founding chairperson. In 1993 she was appointed as a charter member of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC) by Governor Carroll Campbell. During her twelve-year tenure as chair, the SCAAHC has published the annual “African American Historic Places in South Carolina” guide; a “Teacher’s Guide to African American Historic Places in South Carolina and its “Arts Integration Supplement”; a survey of African American schools in South Carolina entitled “How Did We Get to Now?”; an introductory resource guide for entrepreneurs entitled “The Business of Rural Heritage, Culture and Art”; and a project capturing the experiences of African Americans in South Carolina during the pandemic entitled “Black Carolinians Speak: Portraits of a Pandemic.” Among other awards, Harriot has been honored with “The Order of the Palmetto,” the highest civilian award in the State of South Carolina, and she was inducted into the first class of the Ernest A. Finney Hall of Fame.

Simon Lewis

Thoroughly southern, Simon Lewis was raised in the South of England and near Cape Town, South Africa. He returned to England to complete high school and an undergraduate degree at Worcester College in Oxford. A year as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina in Columbia revealed a passion for teaching and for the next nine years he taught high school English in England and Tanzania. Returning to graduate school in the United States, Lewis completed his PhD at the University of Florida. Inspired by his mother’s experience as a farmer’s wife in South Africa, his dissertation focused on white women writers on farms in Africa. Since 1996 he has taught in the English Department at the College of Charleston, specializing in African and postcolonial literature. He quickly became fascinated by Charleston’s African heritage and became enthusiastically involved with the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) program. For the last two decades he has been associated with CLAW as either Associate Director or Director, overseeing numerous public lectures, symposia, and conferences on topics as diverse as foodways, material culture, public history, and Jewish intellectual migration. He has also served as director of the College of Charleston’s African Studies program and the African American Studies program. He served as Associate Dean in the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs for five years, as well. As a scholar, he has published two monographs on African and British literature and is the editor of four volumes of essays stemming from CLAW program conferences. The author of some 20 peer-reviewed articles on African literature, notably on South African poetry, he is also a prolific reviewer both of academic texts for scholarly journals and of novels and trade books for the Charleston Post and Courier.

The Rice Museum

Established in 1970 as a part of the South Carolina Tricentennial event, the Rice Museum exhibits a permanent collection of dioramas, maps, paintings, artifacts and other displays that tell the history of rice cultivation in Georgetown County. Five major river systems flow through Georgetown County to the sea, allowing for the widespread use of the tidal-flow method of rice cultivation- a method that took advantage of the force exerted by the tides on fresh river water to direct the water into and out of the rice fields. The laborers in the rice fields were primarily West Africans who had been captured and sold into slavery.  By 1840 the Georgetown District produced nearly one-half of the total rice crop of the United States. The Rice Museum chronicles the development of this most important American industry and its impact on not only South Carolina, but internationally as well. The museum is housed in the Old Market Building behind the iconic clock tower and in the adjacent Kaminski Hardware Building. The Maritime Museum Gallery is located on the third floor of the Kaminski Hardware Building. The Browns Ferry Vessel, built in the early 1700s and sunk in approximately 1730, is on permanent display in the Kaminski Building’s third-floor gallery. Also located in the Kaminski Hardware Building are the Prevost Art Gallery and the Rice Museum Gift Shop. Rotating installations provide visitors interesting and topical exhibits of art and history. Art by South Carolina artists and artisans is a major feature of the Gallery. The Museum Gift Shop is filled with unique and unusual pieces by artists and artisans from South Carolina and around the world.

2021 Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award Recipients

Lydia Brandt

Dr. Lydia Mattice Brandt graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Art History from New York University, after which she earned her M.A. in Architectural History and her Ph.D in Art and Architectural History at the University of Virginia. She has taught the history of architecture, American art, and the theories and methods of historic preservation at the University of South Carolina since 2011. The University of Virginia Press published her first book, First in the Homes of His Countrymen: George Washington’s Mount Vernon in the American Imagination in 2016. Her essays on American architecture have appeared in Winterthur Portfolio, Arris, Antiques & Fine Art, Imprint, The Public Historian, and in numerous books. In 2021, Dr. Brandt published The South Carolina State House Grounds: A Guidebook and she hosted a podcast tour of the site, “Historically Complex,” produced with Historic Columbia. She has authored three National Register of Historic Places nominations in Columbia and completed a survey of 750 buildings in the city’s downtown, with a special focus on mid-twentieth-century modern architecture. Professor Brandt is one of three professors at the University of South Carolina who led the campaign for a monument to the university’s first African American professor, Richard T. Greener, erected in early 2018.

Tamara Herring

Tamara Herring is the Executive Director of Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage, a non-profit museum and cultural arts center located in Ridgeland, SC. The Morris Center’s mission, to cultivate community experiences through education, preservation, and celebration of the region’s rich history and culture, is close to Tamara’s heart. No stranger to non-profit work, her role as grant researcher, partnership developer, and project coordinator helped to create several community-based programs for Interstate Urban Consortium, Inc. and Empowering Youth to Excel and Succeed, Inc. (EYES, Inc.), both headquartered in Northern NJ. Tamara, along with her husband and two sons, relocated to Jasper County from New Jersey in 2015. Under Tamara’s leadership, the Morris Center has increased its advisory board from seven to nine members, diversifying to include four women of color, and expanded with a new 3,000 square foot addition to the museum’s complex. The Morris Center also increased arts-based programming to support annual art and cultural travel exhibits and varied programming to reflect the diversity of the local community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tamara ensured the viability of the Morris Center by obtaining grant funding and SBA financing. Tamara is a Creative Connector for Create Rural, SC an initiative of SC Arts Commission’s The Art of Community: Rural SC. She also serves on the Jasper County Arts Council and is a member of the Jasper County Historical Society, and the Lowcountry Affiliation of Volunteer Administrators. 

The Rev. Christopher B. Thomas

The Reverend Christopher B. Thomas is a native of Sacramento, Calif. and earned a B.A. in history from California State University.  He earned his M.A.T.S. and Th.M. degrees from Liberty University and Trinity Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in historical theology from the University of Nottingham.  Rev. Thomas is an ordained elder in the Church of God in Christ and serves as Senior Pastor of New Generation Outreach Ministry.  Active in community affairs, he serves as a mentor for MODELS Academy and on the board of directors for Community Initiatives, a non-profit organization in Greenwood, S.C.

Rev. Thomas is Director of the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site that is a part of the GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission. Inc. and has been instrumental in helping persons across the Lakelands region of South Carolina and beyond to know more about the life and legacy of Dr. Mays.

Kasie Whitener

Dr. Kasie Whitener’s first novel, After December, has been called “a breakthrough debut” and “outstanding fiction.” Her second novel, Before Pittsburgh, released August 17, 2021. She hosts the weekly radio show Write On SC, serves as board member to the South Carolina Writers Association, and on the South Carolina Humanities Speakers’ Bureau. Dr. Whitener is a business owner and instructor at the University of South Carolina. At her core is GenX nostalgia, libertarian politics, and not-quite-getting-over-the-90s. Dr. Whitener has presented for Bowling Green State University’s Winter Wheat Literary Festival, the Pat Conroy Literary Center, and the Fairfax County Public Library. 

Special Thanks To Our 2021 Sponsors

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SC Academy of Authors

Past Recipients

One hundred individuals and organizations have received awards from 1991 to 2020. 




  • Charles Joyner
  • Lawrence Rowland
  • WRJA – Sumter



  • Jerold J. Savory






  • Walter Edgar
  • Dori Sanders
  • William Starr




  • Luther (Fred) Carter
  • Ann Close
  • William Price Fox
  • Eugene (Nick) Ziegler


  • J. Douglas Donehue
  • Virginia Friedman
  • Joseph P. Riley, Jr.


2007 – Learn more about the 2007 recipients

  • Jeffrey R. Willis
  • Senator Ernest F. Hollings

2008 – Learn more about the 2008 recipients

  • Rachel Hodges
  • Wayne Q. Justesen, Jr.
  • William C. Moran

2009 – Learn more about the 2009 recipients

2010 – Learn more about the 2010 recipients

2011 – Learn more about the 2011 recipients

  • Jack Bass
  • Jerome “Jerry” Reel
  • I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, South Carolina State University

2012 – Learn more about the 2012 honorees

2013 – Learn more about the 2013 honorees

  • Dr. Mary Ann Kohli
  • Ron Rash
  • Dr. Stephen R. Wise

2014 – Learn more about the 2014 honorees

  • Dr. William E. Dufford
  • Dr. Tom Mack
  • Dr. Alexandra Rowe

2015 – Learn more about the 2015 honorees

  • Dr. Charles Israel
  • Dr. Valinda Littlefield
  • Dr. Rudy Mancke

2016 – Learn more about the 2016 honorees

2017 – Learn more about the 2017 honorees

2018 – Learn more about the 2018 honorees

  • Anne Walker Cleveland, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Bobby Donaldson, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Sara June Goldstein, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Cecil Williams, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Adrienne Burris, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award
  • Anna Catherine “AC” Parham, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award

2019 – Listen to a short interview about the 2019 ceremony on SC Public Radio.

2020 – Watch the 2020 ceremony on YouTube

  • Billy Keyserling, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Robin Waites, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Barbara Williams Jenkins, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Jon Tuttle, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Caroline DeLongchamps, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award