Who Am I: Introducing RSJI’s Newest Intern

Posted on August 24, 2017


My name is Lanasa Clarkson and I am the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) intern for the Fall 2017 semester. I am currently a junior at College of Charleston double majoring in Political Science and African American Studies.

After undergrad, I plan on enrolling into law school and becoming a civil rights attorney. For as long as I could remember, I’ve wanted to be a lawyer, however, it wasn’t until after coming to college that I realized how often the rights of individuals were blatantly ignored. This disregard of civil rights is what sparked my interest in civil rights law.

Lecia Brooks from the Southern Poverty Law Center played a significant role in my decision to practice civil rights law. During my freshman year, I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon with Ms. Brooks that focused on mass incarceration, economic justice, and immigrant justice. After leaving this event, I realized fighting for the civil rights of others was something that I would like to do in the long term.

I am excited to be working as the intern with the RSJI this semester because I am passionate about assisting in the education of race and social justice. I’m looking forward to closely working with the RSJI staff in the launching of the Charleston County Racial Disparities Report because the data results will show that structural racism, poverty, and residential segregation exist within the Charleston community. I am also looking forward to the learning and growing opportunities that this internship will provide.


Burke High School Culinary Students Meet Professionals from Starbucks Coffee Company for Mock Interviews and More

Posted on January 26, 2017




Students in Chef Ira Hill’s and Chef April Mazyck’s Culinary Arts program at Burke High School recently enjoyed a very special visit from senior leaders within the Starbucks Coffee organization.

After completing regional meetings with store managers from North and South Carolina, over a dozen professionals generously gave their time and talents building important relationships with high school students studying to prepare for the ever growing hospitality & tourism workforce needs of our region.

Students enjoyed hearing the varied background of each of the professionals, including their educational and career pathways. Then, one by one, the students shared their plans for career and college.

Students then led tours of the new culinary arts space at Burke HS, and the visiting professionals were amazed at the resources available for instruction.

To wrap up the visit, students were paired with Starbucks professionals for mock interviews and one on one discussion.

The relationship was sparked after a fortuitous meeting between Mr. Daron Calhoun from College of Charleston’s Race and Social Justice Initiative at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture and Robert Fleming, District Manager with Starbucks Coffee Company.

Thanks to all that made this experience possible for Burke High School students.

CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT: “Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic Word”

Conference website:

“Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World” will be hosted by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program, and the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston on June 14-17, 2017. Conference planners are seeking proposals for workshops, roundtable discussions, panels, and individual papers from public history professionals, scholars, educators, librarians, archivists, and artists that address issues surrounding the interpretation, preservation, memorialization, commemoration, and public application of major themes in local, regional, and Atlantic World history.

In partnership with various local, national, and international cultural heritage organizations, academic institutions, and historic sites, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World Program (CLAW), and the Addlestone Library are hosting a conference on transforming public history practices from Charleston to the Atlantic World to be held at the College of Charleston and other partner sites in Charleston, South Carolina.

Based on the United Nation’s declaration of 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and the conference location in Charleston, South Carolina, on the second anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Mother Emanuel Church, the conference will particularly highlight speakers and topics relevant to transforming practices of interpreting the history of slavery and its race and class legacies in Charleston and historically interconnected local, regional, and international sites.

Starting in the fifteenth century, the Atlantic Ocean became a corridor of trade and migration—both voluntary and coerced—between Africa, Europe, and the Americas. In the centuries that followed, the violent encounters, power struggles, cultural exchanges, labor systems, and economic ties surrounding these trans-Atlantic connections became ever more complex and globally intertwined, producing distinctive race, class, and gender experiences and hierarchies throughout the Atlantic World and beyond. How have cultural heritage institutions, public historians, scholars, artists, activists, filmmakers, and educators in various international regions engaged with and depicted the diverse histories of the Atlantic World? How have these representations changed over time, and how will they continue to change in the twenty-first century?


Race and Social Justice Initiative Statement of Solidarity

In April 2015, the Lowcountry found itself the focal point of the media as the world seen an unarmed man retreating and being killed by a North Charleston police officer. Direct action protest across the region ignited calling for justice to be served as national and international media came to the Lowcountry to cover yet another life taken by someone paid to protect and serve.

Two months after the killing of Walter Scott by NCPD officer Michael Slager, Charleston experienced yet another unimaginable tragedy as Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church became the site of a domestic terrorist attack. On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, terrorist and white supremacist, Dylann Roof, opened fire on parishioners gathered for bible study seeking to be the catalyst of a race war. The nation stood at a standstill as people tried to wrap their minds around how such an act of hate could happen in the 21st century. The nation mourned with the Lowcountry and many used the tragedy as an opportunity for unity and understanding.

It is through these events that the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) was conceived. As many sought to gain understanding of how blatant acts of malice were occurring in a “post-racial society”, others viewed the events as the offspring of festering white supremacy and racism that institutions neglectfully allowed to go unchecked. The RSJI was formed to open the streams of dialogue regarding issues that affect the community with the hopes of moving toward proactive change as opposed to reactive. Through public programming, community outreach, and research we at the Race and Social Justice Initiative will do our part to “right the ship.”

Therefore, the Race and Social Justice Initiative at the College of Charleston is committed to the fight for justice. We are committed to the struggle for equality and fair treatment of all people in the Lowcountry and beyond. We will advocate for the voiceless and seek to empower the powerless. We openly stand against the institution of white supremacy and all the privileges pertaining thereto.  With this charge, the Race and Social Justice Initiative at the College of Charleston will actively seek longstanding systemic change to a system that has much too often proven that it works against minorities and the lower class. As the trial of Dylan Roof and the retrial of Michael Slager travel the long round of the justice system, we at the Race and Social Justice Initiative will do our part in educating, facilitating, and promoting the dialogue of race and social justice and will support all who believe in positive and productive change.


“A Deeper Black: Race in America,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Journalist and Author, College of Charleston TD Arena, March 21, 2017, 6:30 pm



Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive black voices today—“the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (New York Observer). Coates is the author, most recently, of Between the World and Me, the #1 New York Times bestseller that “will be hailed as a classic of our time” (Publishers Weekly) and which Toni Morrison calls “required reading.”

Between the World and Me is written by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the form of a letter to his teenage son, Samori. In 160 pages, it moves from Baltimore to Howard University to New York City to Paris, France, addressing what it means to be black in America. Slate calls it, “a book destined to remain on store shelves, bedside tables, and high school and college syllabi long after its author or any of us have left this Earth.”

An Atlantic National Correspondent, Coates has written many influential articles, including “The Case for Reparations,” which reignited the long-dormant conversation of how to repay African-Americans for a system of institutional racism that’s robbed them of wealth and success for generations. New York called the George Polk Award-winning cover story “probably the most discussed magazine piece of the Obama era.”

Coates’s debut book, The Beautiful Struggle, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. In 2012, Coates was awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. Judge Hendrik Hertzberg, of The New Yorker, wrote, “Coates is one of the most elegant and sharp observers of race in America. He is an upholder of universal values, a brave and compassionate writer who challenges his readers to transcend narrow self-definitions and focus on shared humanity.”

A former Village Voice writer, Coates has previously served as the Journalist in Residence at the School of Journalism at CUNY and the Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professor at MIT. He has been awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. He is the winner of a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship, and was named of one TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

This event is free and open to the public.

Eventbrite - The Race and Social Justice Initiative presents Ta-Nehisi Coates