The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston has developed a traveling exhibit featuring the Civil War hero and American statesman, Robert Smalls. The Life and Times of Robert Smalls will be on display at the AveryResearch Center from August 7, 2008 – September 20, 2008 and will start with a panel discussion and symposium that will explore Smalls’ life and significance to the Palmetto State. SC Humanities sponsored the program through a Major Grant in February 2008.
Robert Smalls was an African American political leader who served five terms in the United States Congress. He came to prominence due to his heroic acts during the Civil War, including his legendary seizing of the Confederate ship, the CSS Planter, which he surrendered to Union forces.
The Life and Times of Robert Smalls exhibit features furniture from the “big house” where Smalls and his mother were enslaved, scaled replicas of the ships that Smalls piloted during the Civil War, as well as photographs, historical documents, and other artifacts. The exhibit includes a screening of part IV of the PBS series, Slavery and the Making of America, which features a dramatization of the life of Congressman Smalls, including the capture of the CSS Planter.
The exhibit will open in Charleston with a special panel lecture featuring four scholars and a descendent of Robert Smalls. Dr. Lawrence Rowland of the University of South Carolina – Beaufort, Dr. Bernard E. Powers of the College of Charleston, Dr. Andrew Billingsley of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Valinda Littlefield of the University of South Carolina, and Mr. Michael Boulware Moore, Great-Great Grandson of Robert Smalls, will discuss the life and legacy of Congressman Smalls.
Randy Akers, Executive Director of SC Humanities, said, “It is gratifuing that Robert Smalls is beginning to receive the attention that he is due. With a wonderful new biography by Andrew Billingsley, a recent documentary by Adrena Ifill, and now an exhibit, people both in state and out of state have a chance to learn about this important American hero.”
The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations.