Voices and Votes Opens in Orangeburg

The traveling Smithsonian exhibit Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is on display at Claflin University from November 1 – December 10, 2022. The exhibition examines the nearly 250-year-old American experiment of a government “of, by and for the people,” and how each generation since continues to question how to form “a more perfect union.” A variety of collateral programs and events will take place while the exhibit is on display. The tour of Voices and Votes is made possible in South Carolina by SC Humanities.

Claflin University was chosen by SC Humanities through a competitive application process to host Voices and Votes as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in South Carolina from April 2022 through January 2023; an itinerary of all six stops on the tour and more program details can be found at https://schumanities.org/voices-and-votes/.

Voices and Votes explores the action, reaction, vision and revision that democracy demands as Americans continue to question how to shape the country. From the revolution and suffrage, to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story—the story of democracy in America. Exhibition sections explore the origins of American democracy, the struggles to obtain and keep the vote, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Voices and Votes features historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.

The Voices and Votes exhibit is installed at the Arthur Rose Museum on Claflin’s Campus, 400 Magnolia St, Orangeburg, SC 29115.

A variety of special events are planned while the exhibit is on display:

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.
Voices and Votes Grand Opening & “Orangeburg: Crucible of American Democracy” Talk
Presentation by Dr. Robert Greene
Arthur Rose Museum, 400 Magnolia St, Orangeburg, SC 29115

Monday, November 7, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.
An Evening with Cecil Williams
Orangeburg County School District Voting Sticker Student Art Contest
Arthur Rose Museum, 400 Magnolia St, Orangeburg, SC 29115

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.
South Carolina and Southern Politics: Where Do We Go From Here?
Forum Discussion with Dr. Todd Shaw of USC-Columbia

Claflin University will also co-host the special writing and reflection workshop “The Communal Pen”. The dates of this free writing workshop are Saturday, November 19, 12:00 – 2:30PM and Saturday, December 3, 12:00 – 2:00 PM. Please pre-register here. This writing workshop draws inspiration from Voices and Votes. The exhibit themes and images are a springboard for igniting our own stories, giving voice to our shared and unique experiences. The Communal Pen is developed through the SC Arts Commission’s place-based initiative, the Art of Community: Rural SC. The writing workshops are coordinated through the Community Arts Development and Folklife programs, with generous support from SC Humanities. Learn more about the Communal Pen program here: https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/community-development/programs/communal-pen/.

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, Voices and Votes will serve as a community meeting place for conversations about democracy, the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, participating in government, and more.

The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about Voices and Votes and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit museumonmainstreet.org.  Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c)3 organization is governed by a volunteer 20-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.