HeritageDays DianeBrittonDunhamHeritage Days returns to Penn Center on St. Helena Island November 8 – 11, a three-day cultural celebration of Gullah/Geechee Sea Island history, folk arts, food, music, crafts, and West African cultural legacy.


The weekend will feature an exciting calendar of events reflecting this year’s theme, “A Homecoming Jubilee: Our Story, Our History Lives.” Each year, the committee hosts a symposium in order to increase the understanding of history and culture, and to engage participants in meaningful dialogue and activities that stimulate action towards enhancing and promoting their culture. In keeping with the overall 2018 Heritage Days theme, this year’s symposium topic is “Ourstory: Reconstructing Freedom.” A distinguished panel will present as follows:

  • What is Reconstruction? Presented by Najmah Thomas, Ph.D., University of South Carolina Beaufort, Ahmad Ward, Executive Director, Mitchelville Preservation Project, and Dawn Davis, Acting Superintendent, Reconstruction Era National Monument.
  • Examining Penn Center’s role in Reconstruction through told and untold stories. Presented by Victoria Smalls, Teaching Reconstruction Campaign Organizer, Zinn Education Project, Maria Benac, Branch Manager, St. Helena Branch Library, Nathaniel Glover, Lowcountry Artist, and Lillie Harris presenting Charlotte Forten in song.
  • Reconstructing freedom from mental health, economic, education, political and cultural perspectives. Presented by Donellia Chives, Disability/Mental Health Specialist, Beaufort Jasper EOC Head Start, Damon Fordham, Professor of U.S. and African-American History, Charleston Southern University and The Citadel, and Renarta Tompkins, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Literacy, University of South Carolina Beaufort
  • OurStoryCorps & Freedom Panels (Reception). Presented by Elizabeth Serieux, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health, University of South Carolina Beaufort, Trey Nelson, Finesse’ the Artist, and Jared Madison, The Sacred Solution.

All audiences are welcome (K-12 & adults); the event will include OurStoryCorps (National Public Radio) interviews, activities, and door prizes. The symposium will be held Friday, November 9, 2018 12:30pm – 4:30pm at the St. Helena Branch Library on St. Helena Island; participants are welcome to attend one or all sessions. A reception will follow from 5:30-7:00PM and a tour of the new National Park Service exhibit at Darrah Hall on Penn Center Campus. Free Admission to the Heritage Days Symposium is sponsored by the Heritage Days Symposium Committee. Online registration is available at www.eventbrite.com (key words ‘Penn Center Heritage Symposium’); to register in-person at the event, please arrive early! For more information, go to Social Media: #HeritageDays #PennCenter1862, or call 843-441-0657.

Painting above by 2018 featured artist Diane Britton Dunham.