brent-morrisA history professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort has been awarded, for the second time, a grant of nearly $200,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct a three-week institute for school teachers on the history of Reconstruction and its legacy along America’s Southeastern coast. In the latest NEH award, announced August 9, the University of South Carolina will receive an outright grant of $199,140 to fund a three-week institute in the summer of 2017 for 25 K-12 teachers selected from across the country. The project is entitled, “America’s Reconstruction: The Untold Story.”

As in 2015, this institute will benefit from the tireless efforts of coordinator Deloris Pringle and the partnership and generous support of the City of Beaufort, Penn Center, the Mitchelville Preservation Project, the Taw Caw Community Outreach Center, the Beaufort County Historical Society, Historic Beaufort Foundation and the University of South Carolina College of Education.

J. Brent Morris, Ph.D., Humanities Department Chair and Associate Professor of History at USCB, will direct the institute and will share in a total of $79 million in grants awarded by the NEH for nearly 300 humanities projects nationwide. Dr. Morris earned a B.A. degree magna cum laude in History and English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina in 2001, and an M.A. degree in History at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., in 2008. He earned a Ph.D. at Cornell in 2010, specializing in United States and African-American History.

Dr. Morris’s research focuses on slavery, antislavery and emancipation in America. He is the author of more than twenty articles, reviews, and encyclopedia entries that have appeared in the New York Times, Civil War History, the Journal of African American History, Southern Studies, the South Carolina Historical Magazine, The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia of Slavery in the Americas, and Encyclopedia of the Early Republic and Antebellum America. His latest publication, Yes, Lord, I Know the Road: A Documentary History of African Americans in South Carolina 1526-2008, will be published in early 2017. Dr. Morris was the 2010 recipient of the South Carolina Historical Society’s Malcolm C. Clark Award, the 2016 Henry Howe Award of the Ohio Genealogical Society, and is a 2015-2016 University of South Carolina Breakthrough Star for Research and Scholarship.

“Reconstruction is a remarkable time period in American history, that, unfortunately, has been long neglected and overlooked. Its forgotten history, however, is one of tremendous and revolutionary accomplishment for former slaves. It was when significant numbers of Americans first seriously made an attempt to hold their nation to the rhetoric and egalitarian spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the founding era. Reconstruction actually began in Beaufort County in 1861, the first year of the war,” said Morris, “and, though the era fell short of many Americans’ expectations, it laid much of the groundwork for the ‘Second Reconstruction,’ or the Civil Rights Movement, of the 20th century. Its relevance still echoes to this day.”

This NEH institute will assemble a virtual who’s who of nationally renowned American history scholars to teach the courses. They will explore the topic of Reconstruction and its legacy in South Carolina, Georgia and the Sea Islands. Besides Dr. Morris, instructors for the institute will include local scholars Lawrence S. Rowland, Ph.D., USCB’s Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Stephen Wise, Ph.D., Museum Curator at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and Dr. Emory Campbell, Penn Center Director Emeritus.

David W. Blight, Ph.D., Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition will give the opening keynote address on July 9. Edward Ayers, President Emeritus of the University of Richmond and recipient of the National Humanities Medal will offer closing remarks on July 29. Other luminaries will be serving as institute faculty visiting from Cornell University, the National Park Service, Clemson University, the University of Copenhagen, the University of South Carolina, the University of North Carolina, Stanford University, the National Constitution Center, Yale University and other prestigious institutions.

The K-12 teachers from the 2015 institute represented schools from over a dozen states, and all alumni have incorporated the results of their learning into curriculum back home. The selection committee hopes for similar diversity and enthusiasm for the 2017 institute. Competition for the 25 available spots is expected to be very competitive. Application information may be found at USCB.EDU/AMERICASRECONSTRUCTION/, and all applications should be postmarked no later than March 1, 2017.

The institute will be housed on the Historic Beaufort Campus of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. The class also will spend extended time at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, Mitchellville on Hilton Head Island, Charleston and Sapelo Island, Ga.  

The $79 million in NEH grants will help support a wide range of scholarly projects, including: traveling exhibitions, the preparation and publication of scholarly editions, professional development opportunities for teachers and college faculty, the preservation of cultural collections and more.