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Culture and community resonate at the Penn Center

Alan Flurry

Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, a partnership between the Penn Center, on St. Helena Island, SC, and the Willson Center, continued its first year’s public programs with a five-day cycle of research residencies in early June, 2022. The residencies brought students, faculty, and community experts from across the southeastern U.S. for unique place-based studies on the theme of Land, Liberation, and Justice:

“The summer research residencies are important to the Culture and Community partnership because they facilitate student engagement with their peers across a variety of disciplines and institutions to learn about the history, culture, art, and accomplishments of rural Black southerners and Gullah Geechee people,” said Barbara McCaskill, UGA professor of English and Willson Center associate academic director. “Through workshops and conversations with Penn Center alumni and Sea Island residents, the students accomplish the partnership’s goal of creating meaningful and responsive pathways for cultural exchange and community self-determination.

McCaskill, Valerie Frazier, associate professor of English at the College of Charleston and a UGA alumna, and Nik Heynen, Distinguished Research Professor of Geography at UGA and visiting faculty in the Black Food Studies Program at Spelman College, will teach on-site credit-bearing coursesCharles S. Johnson III, retired vice president and counsel for external affairs at Tuskegee University, will teach a workshop on the Fifteenth Amendment, and Heynen will co-lead a workshop with Maurice Bailey, director of the nonprofit Save Our Legacy Ourself of Hog Hammock, Sapelo Island, on Liberation Farming, Indigo and Community Economic Development. Bailey and Heynen’s work together on Sapelo has been featured in The New York TimesThe Bitter Southerner, and in other publications and media.

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Image: Maurice Bailey in a sugar cane field on Sapelo Island. Bailey and Nik Heynen led a workshop on “Liberation Farming, Indigo and Community Economic Development” at Penn Center Saturday, June 4. [Photograph courtesy of Rinne Allen]

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