South Carolina Humanities annually presents the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities Luncheon & Award Ceremony to recognize outstanding humanists in the Palmetto State.

The Governor’s Awards 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 in defining South Carolina’s cultural life to the nation or world; and exemplary support for public humanities programs.
Congratulations to our 2022 Governor's Awards in the Humanities recipients:

Jack Alterman is part of a distinguished tradition of artists who have made transcendent images of Charleston, South Carolina. He is inspired by the city’s blend of old and new, the colors of paint and stucco, water, clouds, and cobblestones. From her architecture to people, Alterman makes the familiar unique and the unique familiar

Jack opened his studio in his hometown of Charleston over forty years ago and has remained focused on the architecture and the people of his city. He has worked with the community to create several notable projects.

‘Who Among Us’ was an exhibit and documentary film produced to benefit the Crisis Ministries of Charleston and raise awareness for how indiscriminate the effects of homelessness can be on people from all backgrounds.

The Bridge Builders’: At the completion of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, in 2005 Alterman made studio portraits of the men and women who participated in its construction. Many of these workers came from different parts of the United States, some from other countries, to work on this five year project. The exhibition opening was held at Alterman’s studio with the builders and their families attending.

Eastsiders Matter’ was an expansive public portrait exhibit displayed along a 150-foot fence on Columbus Street. It remained on view for months and put a face on the residents of Hampstead Village, The East Side, a historic and rapidly changing African American community in Charleston. This was the topic of his 2016 Tedx Talk.

King Street ~The 500 Block’,  Jack created a sidewalk portrait gallery of the merchants transitioning in and out of this once locally-owned business district.  The portraits were displayed in the windows of vacant storefronts.

From 2002~2009 Jack and a small group of photographers began giving workshops and classes at his King Street studio teaching the art and craft of film & digital photography and hosted monthly lectures by local and visiting photographers.

Alterman attended the University of South Carolina, Brooks Institute of Photography and is a USMC Veteran. He has published three books of his images: Cornices of Charleston, My Lazy Eye, and My City Charleston.

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Beryl Dakers, a broadcast trailblazer for over forty years, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and dedicated community servant. Dakers began her broadcast career as a reporter for WIS-radio in 1972. After a brief stint at WIS-TV, she joined SCETV in 1977 as Director of News and Public Affairs. During the course of her career, she developed numerous programs for ETV, including the very popular “NatureScene” and “What in the World Is It?” series. An adept on-camera personality, she has amassed a tremendous body of works as a documentary producer, writer, and director of a wide and over-arching list of topics ranging from sensitive and timely social issues to history, cultural developments, civil rights, the arts, music, politics, religion, and the environment. She is most proud of those works which serve to document SC’s social, political, cultural, and natural history. A sampling of these includes: “Remember My Name”, a three-part series on Domestic Violence; “When the Mill Closes Down”; ”Tragedy at Orangeburg”; “The Orangeburg Massacre—Remembrances and Reminiscences”; and “Remembering Charleston”; profiles on figures as diverse as Strom Thurmond, Modjeska Simkins, Dr. Benjamin Mays, Matthew Perry, Composer Gian Carlo Menotti , Chamber music guru Charles Wadsworth,  and artists Leo Twiggs and Jonathan Green; “Praise House: The Tradition”; “Site Specific Art”; “Re-Staging Martha Graham’s ‘Chronicles”; “Sacred Spaces of the Charleston Low Country”; “In this Sacred Space”; “The Jenkins Orphanage Band”; “Sisterhood: SC Suffragists”; and “Mt. Vernon Mills: The End of an Era.” Beryl is a lifelong student of history, a staunch advocate for the Arts, and a firm believer in giving back to the community.

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Gail Wagner is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina and a respected paleoethnobotanist (one of the few in the Southeast). Her fields of study are the precolonial archaeology of eastern North America (especially South Carolina) and ethnobotany (the study of the interrelationships between plants and peoples). She is a veteran of archaeological projects in the Midwest, Southwest, Israel, India, and South Carolina and has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Wagner feels she has been fortunate as both an ethnobotanist and an archaeologist to conduct research at the intersection between science and the humanities, and through a number of venues she attempts to bring the excitement of that mixture to the general public.

During her 32 years of teaching at the University of South Carolina-Columbia, she mentored 455 undergraduate students through gathering original research on five different multi-year/multi-class projects. The students collected a total of 1,273 oral interviews from mostly South Carolinians on every-day subject matters highly relatable to the students as well as their friends and families (e.g., what is a vegetable; do any plants in one’s yard have special meaning; does it matter whether we know the names of local plants?). The research results form the basis of several of her ethnobotanical public talks through the SC Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. She recruited and co-coordinated the Biocultural Diversity Project, a project that examined place-based linguistic, cultural, and biological knowledge with five other universities across the United States and Canada, affording students the opportunity to compare their place with the other places.

In her capacity as a speaker on the South Carolina Humanities Speaker’s Bureau, since 1992 she traveled around the state to speak to various groups about archaeology, ethnobotany, paleoethnobotany, or ecoliteracy.  Her Speaker’s Bureau topics include: Why Garden?;  What is a Vegetable?; Cofitachequi: A Chiefdom; Colonial Encounters; Uses of Plants by Native Americans; and Can Nature Knowledge Save the World. Early in her career at USC she gave a number of 1-3-hour plant walks/talks at State Parks around the state. In addition, she also visited and spoke at a number of chapters of the Archaeological Society of South Carolina.

In 2018 she was awarded the Distinguished Ethnobiologist Award by the Society of Ethnobiology, with a note that her substantial career embodies the mission of the Society of Ethnobiology to promote the understanding of the past and present relationships between humans and their biological worlds.

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The Fresh Voices 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.
Congratulations to our 2022 Fresh Voices in the Humanities Award recipients:

Len Lawson is the author of Chime (Get Fresh Books, 2019) and the chapbook Before the Night Wakes You (Finishing Line Press, 2017). He is also the editor of Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race (Muddy Ford Press, 2017) and The Future of Black: Afrofuturism and Black Comics Poetry (Blair Press, 2021). Among his accolades, he won the 2016 Jasper Project Artist of the Year Award in Literary Arts, the inaugural 2018 NC Poetry Society Susan Laughter Meyers Fellowship in Poetry, and the 2020 SC Academy of Authors Carrie McCrary Nickens Fellowship in Poetry. He has received other fellowships from Tin House, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Callaloo, Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts among others. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for The Jasper Project. Len earned a Ph.D. in English Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and currently is Assistant Professor of English at Newberry College.

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Rhondda Robinson Thomas is the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University where she teaches, researches, and writes about early African American literature in the Department of English. She has published Call My Name, Clemson: Documenting the Black Experience in an American University Community, which received an honorable mention in the National Council on Public History’s 2021 book awards, co-edited The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought, and edited volume 1 of Cambridge University Press’s African American Literature in Transition series. Dr. Thomas is the faculty director of the award-winning Call My Name Project,  (, a multi-faceted public humanities initiative that documents the lives and labors of African Americans in Clemson University history, which has received a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, South Carolina Humanities, and Clemson’s Office of the Provost and College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities, and gifts through the Clemson University Foundation. She was Clemson University’s 2021 Researcher of the Year. Currently, Dr. Thomas serves as the Coordinator of Research and Community Engagement for Clemson University’s Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project and was recently appointed to the SC African American Heritage Commission and SC State Board of Review for the National Register of Historic Places.

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Emmie & Bob Dawson, & Jennet Robinson Alterman

Randy Akers

The friends & family of Gail Wagner 

The Harriet and Herbert Keyserling Endowment of the Coastal Carolina Foundation (Billy Keyserling)

Len Lawson

William C. Schmidt, Jr.

Past Recipients

Over one hundred individuals and organizations have received awards from 1991 to 2022. 




  • 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

2021 – Watch the 2021 ceremony on YouTube or View the Event Program

  • Michael Allen, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Jannie Harriot, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Simon Lewis, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • The Rice Museum, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Lydia Brandt, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award
  • Tamara Herring,  Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award
  • The Rev. Christopher B. Thomas, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award
  • Kasie Whitener, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award

2022 – 

  • Jack Alterman, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Beryl Dakers, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Dr. Gail Wagner, Governor’s Award in the Humanities
  • Dr. Len Lawson, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award
  • Dr. Rhondda R. Thomas, Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award