VIDEO: Spring 2022 Penn Center Community Conversations


VIDEO: Spring 2022 Penn Center Community Conversations

Culture and Community at the Penn Center Historic Landmark District, a Mellon Foundation-funded partnership between the Willson Center and St. Helena, South Carolina’s historic Penn Center, held two community conversations this spring, the program’s first public events since launching in 2021. Both conversations were part of the Willson Center’s Global Georgia Initiative public events series. Video of the events is below.


Heirs’ Property: Land, Culture, and Community

• April 11, 2022

This online conversation explores the ways in which family land preserves culture, provides sustainability, and connects us to history and each other.

Panelists include Beaufort, S.C. City Councilman Mitch Mitchell; Tracy McCurty, director of the Black Belt Justice Center; Willie Heyward, regional counsel for Heirs’ Property Law Firm; Odetta MacLeish-White, Director of Georgia Initiatives at the Center for Community Progress; and moderator Rosalind Bentley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Sacred Spaces: The Penn Center, Belief and Belonging

• April 30, 2022

This conversation explores the spaces where creative power, cultural heritage memories, and practices treated with reverence exist.

Panelists include artist and storyteller Natalie Daise; Griffin Lotson, manager of the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters; and artist and activist Charmaine Minniefield. Dr. Valerie Babb, Andrew Mellon Professor of the Humanities in the departments of African American Studies and English at Emory University, moderates the discussion.

Dr. Melissa L. Cooper, associate professor of history at Rutgers University-Newark and author of Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination, was unable to attend in person and provides her remarks in a separate video.

The panel discussion was followed by Charmaine Minniefield’s on-site projected installation, “The Praise House Project: Remembrance as Resistance, Preserving Black Narratives.”


In-person conversation at Penn Center:

Remarks by Dr. Melissa L. Cooper: