For the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of public education in South Carolina, a College of Charleston program meant to emphasize the links between Africa and the U.S. has launched what it calls “The Jubilee Project.”
It’s a collaborative academic and cultural initiative of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World program, and it’s run by a coalition of regional institutions and municipalities.
CLAW and the Charleston School of Law have leveraged these efforts to host the 39th annual African Literature Association conference this week. The conference, which explores the theme “Literature, Liberation and the Law,” spans five days and features numerous speakers, including Cleveland Sellers, president of Voorhees College in Denmark, and Albie Sachs, a former South African high court judge and civil rights hero.
Sachs also will deliver a private address, hosted by Friends of the Library and sponsored by Motley Rice, at Addlestone Library on Sunday. The speech, titled “The Triumph of Humanity and Social Justice,” will recount his childhood and early career as an activist, as well as his 1994 appointment by Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and his role in establishing the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sachs is an advocate of what he calls “soft vengeance,” which focuses on the power of restorative rather than punitive justice.
“Hard vengeance leaves you still at the level of the people who did these awful things,” he told NPR’s Nina Totenberg in 2011. “Soft vengeance is the triumph of your life, of your ideals, of your goals.”
The week’s events will include a public ceremony 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday at Brittlebank Park along the bank of the Ashley River downtown, commemorating the dead of the Middle Passage and the contributions of generations of Africans and African-descended people living in the Americas. This “Ceremony of Remembrance” will include poetry reading and musical performances.