Raising The Volume

The Charleston Gaillard Center presents Raising the Volume, a conversation on music, race, art, activism, and community-curated by Artists-in-Residence Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton. In Raising the Volume, Charleston’s Poet Laureate Amaker and Grammy Award winner Singleton explore issues through open, honest dialogue. The series begins with Amaker and Singleton examining their own experiences with racism as artists. Each subsequent conversation is led by either Amaker or Singleton having in-depth conversations with local Black leaders, educators, business owners, and artists.

Each video will also be accompanied by a lesson plan for both middle and high school students. The Gaillard Center’s on-staff educator will facilitate cross-school virtual meetings for students in different areas to discuss the content of the interviews. Lesson plans for Episodes I-XXVII are available below.

Filmed and produced by the Charleston Gaillard Center, each 30-45 minute episode is available on gaillardcenter.org and YouTube.


A conversation on music, racism, art, activism, and more with Marcus Amaker & Charlton Singleton.


A conversation on Charleston activism, past and present with former Municipal Court Judge for the City of Charleston for 33 years, Judge Arthur McFarland.


A conversation on awareness and action with the Executive Director of YWCA, LaVanda Brown.


A conversation on growing up in Charleston and life as a journalist and author with Herb Frazier.


A conversation on arts management with Dr. Karen Chandler.


A conversation on The Jazz Initiative and Jenkins Orphanage Band with Dr. Karen Chandler.


A conversation on his life and the health of our Black community with Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell.

this episode provided with support from


A conversation on entrepreneurship with Andrea Davis.


A conversation on finding your voice with Dr. Kylon Jerome Middleton.


A conversation on music and life with The War And Treaty.


Kellen Gray examines classical conducting.


Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton talk about music, joy, and memory.


Regina Duggins discusses her role as a mentor, teacher, and community leader.


Dr. Bernard Powers analyzes life and Black history.


Jirah Perkins explores art and being you.


Osei Chandler describes discovering your Kuumba.


KJ Kearney highlights Black Food Fridays.


Michael Brown details community traditions, inspiration, & conflict resolution.


Quiana Parler explores passion, goals for the future, and Gullah culture.


Dr. Brown analyzes gentrification, equality advocacy, and community outreach.


Lonnie Hamilton III describes his experience as a Charleston educator and a politician.


Techa Smalls-Brown reviews the importance of practicing mindfulness.


Daniel Green explores finding your brand.


Ann Caldwell examines telling your story.


Truth Be Told: Vesey Panel Discussion


Elana Boyd-Pea describes founding Black Charleston Professionals.

Anson Street African Burial Project


Michael Allen shares National Park Service and African American experiences.


Kimberlyn Davis highlights the Emanuel Nine Memorial.


Damon Fordham reviews local African American History.


Tessa Spencer explores the world of news from her perspective.


About the hosts

He’s also the award-winning graphic designer, an accomplished electronic musician, the creator of a poetry festival, and a mentor to hundreds of students. His poetry has been featured by PBS Newshour, SC Public Radio, Huffington Post, A&E Network, Charleston Magazine, and more. In 2019, he won a Governor’s Arts award. His poetry has been studied in classrooms across the country and has been interpreted for ballet, jazz, modern dance, opera and theater. Marcus has recorded three albums with Grammy Award winning drummer and producer Quentin E. Baxter. His latest book is The Birth of All Things (Free Verse Press)

MUSIC tapeloop.bandcamp.com
NEW BOOK, VINYL AND MORE newpoetrybook.com
WEBSITE marcusamaker.com

He would then go on to study the organ, violin, cello, and the trumpet throughout elementary, middle and high school. In 1994, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from South Carolina State University. Since that time, he has taught music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as being aadjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston. In 2008 he co-founded and became the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra; an 18 piece jazz ensemble of some of the finest professional musicians in the Southeast and the resident big band in Charleston, SC. Mr. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston, SC. In November of 2016 he was named the inaugural Artist in Residence at the recently renovated Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston. He remained in this position until July 2019; at that point he was named Artist in Residence Emeritus. In this position he continues to lead the Summer Youth Jazz Orchestra Camp as well as lead the “Jazz Through the Ages” assembly, which attracts a capacity crowd of students at the Gaillard Center.

As a performer, Charlton leads his own ensembles that vary in size and style. He has performed in France, Great Britain, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, The Netherlands, as well as many great cities throughout the United States. He is a founding member of a new ensemble called Ranky Tanky. The group is a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah from the Southeast Coast of the United States. In 2017 Ranky Tanky reached the top of the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon Contemporary Jazz charts with their self-titled debut recording. In 2019 they accomplished the same feat with the release of their sophomore effort, “Good Time”, which recently won the 2020 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Roots Music Album”.

In addition to performing, he is in demand as a speaker, clinician, composer, and arranger. He has also shared the stage with and/or worked with some of most talented entertainers in the world, including Bobby McFerrin, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Houston Person, Darius Rucker, Fred Wesley, and Cyrus Chestnut to name a few. Outside of music and entertainment, he and his wife, MaryJo, are the proud parents of Shalamar and D’Marcus, as well as their pets…Sassy, Jango, Mojo, Kota Bear, Pumpkin, and Ginger.

WEBSITE charltonsingleton.com
INSTAGRAM @csmusician
FACEBOOK @charltonpsingleton

About the speakers

JUDGE ARTHUR C. MCFARLAND is a native of Charleston’s Eastside community.  He is the seventh of child of the late Thomasina Jenkins McFarland and Joe McFarland.  His mother encouraged all her children to become community activist like her and his oldest brother Joe McFarland.  He attended Immaculate Conception grade and high school.  As a teenager, he participated in the 1963 civil rights sit-ins and demonstrations in Charleston and attended the March on Washington.  In 1964, he was one of nine African American students to desegregate Bishop England High School.   Upon graduation from Bishop England, he entered the University of Notre Dame where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government.  At Notre Dame, he became the first president of the Afro-American Society.  In 1973, he received his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Virginia Law School.  Following graduation from Virginia, he worked as an Earl Warren Fellow with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York receiving training in civil rights litigation.  In 1974, he opened his law practice in Charleston.  He is admitted to practice before the State, Federal and U.S. Supreme Courts.

In 1976, Judge McFarland was appointed Associate Judge of the Charleston Municipal Court. In 1978, he was appointed Chief Municipal Judge and held that post until his retirement in 2009.  During the past 46 years, he has been a practicing attorney in Charleston handling school desegregation and employment rights as well as heirs’ property and other civil cases. 

In addition to his professional work, Judge McFarland has held positions in numerous local and national organizations.  He has just completed service as co-President of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) which is comprised of 35 congregations and organization in the Charleston area engaged in social justice work.  For six years he served as Supreme Knight and CEO of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc., the largest African American Catholic lay organization in the nation, overseeing over 1000 units in 32 states, the District of Columbia and Colombia, South America.  He serves as National President of the Gadsden Family Reunion (his mother’s side of the family).  He previously served on the boards of the MUSC Foundation, Daniel Joseph Jenkins Institute for Children, and the College of Charleston Foundation; President of several organizations including the the Charleston Business and Professional Association, Charleston County Human Services Commission (now Palmetto CAP), Robert Shaw Boys and Girls Club and Gamma Lambda Boule-Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.

Judge McFarland is listed in the Who’s Who in Black America.  He has been featured in the Congressional Record and Ebony and has been referenced in numerous articles and books.He has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, South Carolina ETV and numerous radio and television programs, locally and in other States.  Hehas been a frequent speaker at churches, schools, legal and civic gatherings.  He has received numerous awards and honors for his community service, locally and nationally.  In 2007, he was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame. 

Judge McFarland is married to Dr. Elise Davis-McFarland.  They have two children, Kira J. McFarland and William J. McFarland and two grandchildren, William J. McFarland, Jr. and Lara Elise McFarland.  He is an active member of St. Patrick Catholic Church.

LaVanda Brown joined YWCA Greater Charleston as executive director in February 2016, bringing more than 20 years of experience, leadership, and a passion for serving to the organization.
During her decades of on-the-ground experience in social services focused on underserved populations, she has led and advised multiple nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Family Promise of Greater Savannah, Union Mission, Greenbriar Children’s Center, Gang Alternatives of Miami, Clarke Community Services in New Orleans, and others in the behavioral health, employment, and community services arenas. 
A passionate advocate for causes including gender equality, diversity, and racial equity, and a strong ally of under-resourced teens and homeless populations, she envisions a world where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated. “The mission of the YWCA is one that is very much in line with my personal mission of empowering women and celebrating differences,” she says.
During her career, LaVanda has developed strategic plans resulting in more positive community interventions, created a homeless case management system, developed a life skills curriculum, designed an after-care program to help the homeless transition to independence, and instituted permanent supportive housing for homeless adults and families. 
Her work has garnered awards including the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Best Practices Award for Transitional Housing and Case Management, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Magnolia Award for Excellence in Housing. She was also the 2018 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Picture Award for outstanding community service, presented by Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and South Carolina Rep. Wendell Gilliard.
LaVanda currently also serves as the housing subcommittee chair for the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing, and serves on the board of Enough Pie, an organization dedicated to improving Charleston’s upper peninsula.   
She holds a dual bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in counseling from Georgia Southern University.

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell is a practicing Family Practice Physician in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine and the Founder of Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc. (CGHC), a non-profit organization created to decrease health disparities by providing health education for African Americans and other under-served populations.

Closing the Gap in Health Care radio health tips, as well as the website, has received National Awards from the National Health Foundation as one the best programs of its kind in the country in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Dr. Bell is a 2013 recipient of the National Medical Association Distinguished Service Award, Toronto, Canada.

On November 11, 2013, he was inducted into the Richland One Hall of Fame for contributions made to Richland One, his community, profession, and society as a whole, by the Richland One Board of School Commissioners.

Dr. Bell writes a weekly newsletter that is received by 1500 readers online primarily in North and South Carolina. The newsletter is read by the lay public as well as physicians. He speaks at his Church (Olive Branch AME Church) each Sunday AM that he is in town, giving a short health tip to the congregation. He has been a frequent speaker to statewide AME Church conferences at the request of the Bishop of the AME Church. He is the recipient of the prestigious Richard Allen Award given by Allen University in 2005 for outstanding contributions in medicine.   

Through CGHC, Dr. Bell presents radio health tips that are aired in the Tricounty area, other parts of the Lowcountry and in the Columbia, SC radio markets (most recently television health tips are also being aired). He also does a monthly radio show with Gary Posik (WGCV 95) in Columbia, SC for the past five years. The health information provided through the radio health tips and the CGHC website reaches over 300,000 people each week. The television program reaches about 12,000 people per day in the Charleston area. In May 2005, Closing the Gap in Health Care was the recipient of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Service Award for Outstanding Contributions in Public Health.

Dr. Bell is the co-founder of the award-winning Closing the Gap in Health Fitness Festival for Children and Youth, an annual event that promotes life fitness for youth in the Charleston area. The program was the recipient of the Governor’s Award for outstanding contributions to the community.

Dr. Bell was the Chairman of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness under three different governors, during which time fitness and health was elevated to a new level in South Carolina. (Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was the Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness).    

Also in 2007, Dr. Bell was a Physician Finalist for Health Care Heroes through the Charleston Regional Business Journal and in 2008. He received the Wanamaker Award given by the Charleston County Medical Society. In April of 2012, Dr. Bell received the James Clyburn Health Literacy Award in Public Health Communication and Community Service. CTCIHC has received numerous awards from sororities and fraternities for outstanding contributions to the African American Communities in Public Health (Health Literacy). In March 2013, Dr. Bell received the Humanitarian Award from the city of Summerville, South Carolina.

Recently, Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc. received a major two-year grant from the Medical University of South Carolina to collaborate at looking at the effectiveness of radio health tips in the Tricounty area.      

Dr. Bell is currently in private practice in family medicine Charleston, SC. He retired from MUSC in 2010 after serving as Director of University Diversity and Associate Dean for Diversity in the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, and a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at MUSC. While serving as director of the office of diversity, Dr. Bell authored and helped initiate diversity plans to increase the number of African American programs in all six colleges at MUSC.

Dr Bell was invited to be the second only African American to be an Assistant Dean of Minority Students at MUSC by Dr. Layton McCurdy, the Dean of the College of Medicine and Vice President of Clinical Affairs at MUSC. At the recommendation of Dr. McCurdy, Dr. Bell was recommended to Dr. Jim Edwards, President of the University at that time, to serve as interim director of the Office of Minority Affairs.  After three months, Dr. Bell was named the director of the office, which he promptly changed the name to the Office of Diversity. He was elevated to Associate Dean of Minority Affairs in the College of Medicine and was the author of many programs to improve the recruitment, retention, and graduation of minority students at MUSC.  He was a member of the admission committee as well as the progress committee for the College of Medicine. While he was Associate Dean of Medicine and Director of the Office of Diversity, the university experienced a significant improvement in the number of African Americans in all six colleges at MUSC.      

He is the founder of the annual very prestigious Earl B. Higgins Diversity Award given in honor of Dr. Earl Higgins to the person at MUSC who has done the most for promoting diversity. The award continues to be given at MUSC. He was also the founder of the Earl B. Higgins Scholarship given to minority students in need of financial support in all six colleges at MUSC. He was the founder of the HBCU Collaboration Program with MUSC to help increase the number of African American students from HBCU colleges and universities in South Carolina into MUSC (College of Medicine).            

He was named Physician of the Year in 1996 by the South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians (the first African American Physician given this honor). He was named to the South Carolina Bell South Calendar for Outstanding African Americans, the first South Carolina State College calendar for outstanding graduates, and in 1992, he was recognized as an outstanding graduate from MUSC.  In 1993, Dr. Bell was selected as outstanding graduate of South Carolina State College for contributions made to medicine, track and field, and the military.

Dr. Bell received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Charleston Southern University in 2003 for outstanding service to the university and the community.   

Dr. Bell was a Major in the US Air Force Reserve from 1983 to 1993. He is a graduate of the US School of Aero Space Medicine and was a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force Reserve. He served in Operation Desert Storm after which he retired.  

In April 2007, Dr. Bell was honored by Select Health Insurance Inc. with an endowed scholarship named in his honor at the Coastal Community Foundation of Charleston, South Carolina. The scholarship will provide support for African American students attending MUSC in all six colleges. Dr. Bell started the annual Low Country Jazz Festival, which is in its fifth year and has been recognized as one of the best Jazz Festivals in the Southeast. The festival is sponsored by Closing the Gap In Health Care INC for the purpose of raising funds to support the radio and television programs as well as the endowed scholarship at the community foundation. We have reached our goal of $250,000.

The Thaddeus J. Bell Scholarship has been endowed for $250,000 for African American students at MUSC in all colleges in good standing with their prospective college. He is a frequent lecturer on health disparities for MUSC, local radio, and television. He has been featured in several newspaper articles in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville, South Carolina. He is a frequent speaker at the annual Greenville Health Disparity Conference and recently wrote an Op Ed on Obesity in the African American Community that appeared in the Greenville Newspaper. He is the recipient of the Golden Pen Award from the Post and Courier for a letter he wrote to the editor regarding the Apology of the American Association to African American Physicians for 100 years of Discrimination in 2008.          

Dr. Bell is a well-respected lecturer on health disparities and is a frequently requested speaker throughout the South for both physicians and public groups. His Barbershop and Beauty Shop talks have been well received throughout South and North Carolina. The talks have been credited with saving the lives of many African American Men and Women. These lectures are given through Churches, civic and social groups. They are free to the public. Dr. Bell is currently the Chairman of the Health Initiative Committee of the Sixth District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and has been recognized locally and regionally for outstanding contributions to the health literacy of African American Men in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He is the 2011 recipient of the Citizen of the Year award given by the Mighty Sixth District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.   

Dr. Bell was inducted into the Columbia Housing Authority Wall of Fame in 1989 as an outstanding physician who was raised in the projects (Allen Benedict Court) of Columbia, South Carolina.    

In 1980, Dr. Bell founded the Cross Family Health Center in Cross, SC, which was a free clinic for the underserved people in Cross, South Carolina, which is now a federal health center for the underserved population and is a major part of the Franklin C. Health Clinic Network in Charleston, South Carolina. He worked at that center for 10 years as the only physician in the rural community of Cross, South Carolina.

He has expertise in fitness and health and often lectures on these subjects as well. Dr. Bell is a former World-Class sprinter in Master Track and Field. He won the title of World Champion in 1987 and 1989 in the 100m sprint. He has also been a two-time World Medical Games Champion in the 100m and 400m dashes. He has been on two master world champion sprint relay teams (1996 and 2001) at the Masters World Games. He has been a gold medal winner at the Penn Relays and has been guest physician at the relays. He has been invited to participate in famous Modesto Relays where he won the 100 and 200m dash for Masters Athletes (1988). Dr. Bell holds all of the South Carolina Records in the sprint events (100m and 200m dash) in Master Track and Field for South Carolina.

He has been a guest physician at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. He has been a physician for USA Track Field for a world championship. He was a physician for the Olympic Festival for USA Track and Field in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1990s.

The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina selected Dr. Bell as one of the best athletes of the 20th Century in track and field for the State of South Carolina.

Dr. Bell is a life member of the Alumni Association of the Medical University of South Carolina, Life Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Life Member of the South Carolina State College Alumni Association, a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the National Medical Association, the Charleston County Medical Association (currently Co Chairman of the Health Disparity Committee). In February of 2012, the Charleston County Medical Association gave a $1500 scholarship to an African American student in the College of Medicine at MUSC in honor of Dr. Thaddeus John Bell.    

Dr. Bell is a graduate of CA Johnson High School (1962) Columbia, South Carolina, South Carolina State University (BS) 1966, Clark Atlanta University 1970 (Masters in Science Education), Medical University of South Carolina (1976) MD, School of Aero Space Medicine (Flight Surgeon)1983, and is currently a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine.      

Dr. Bell is the father of 3 children Thaddeus J. Bell, II (deceased), Tiffany Bell, and Tonisha Bell-Alston.  He is the proud grandfather of a granddaughter, Julia Alston,  grandsons, Kaidyn Snipe and Edmond James Alston.

WEBSITE closingthegapinhealthcare.org
FACEBOOK @ctgihc
TWITTER @ClosingtheGap4u

Since 1999, Karen Chandler has taught arts management in the College of Charleston’s undergraduate and graduate certificate programs and served as director of the undergraduate program from 2014-2019.  She is currently the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Arts and Cultural Management.  Prior to her College of Charleston appointments, she served as Assistant Professor of Arts Management at American University.

Chandler received her Ph.D. in Studies in Arts and Humanities (New York University), M.A. in Music Education (Columbia University-Teachers College), and B.S. in Music Education (Hampton University). 

Chandler has directed arts and cultural programs at the African American Cultural Center (University of Virginia), Avery Research Center (College of Charleston), and is the co-founder/principal of the Charleston Jazz Initiative. With a National Endowment for the Arts grant, she served as Executive Producer of LEGENDS (2010), a CD with a 22-piece big band of songs by musicians the initiative is studying.

Dr. Chandler’s publications include “Bin Yah (Been Here): Africanisms and Jazz Influences in Gullah Culture” in Jazz @ 100: An Alternative to a Story of Heroes (Frankfurt: Wolke Verlag); “Prelude to Gershwin: Edmund Thornton Jenkins” for a Porgy and Bess anthology; “When Charity and Jazz Meet” (Spoleto Festival USA); Curtain Up on the Friends: A History of the Friends of the Kennedy Center Volunteer Program; and several articles in the Theatre Management JournalThe Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society and JAZZed Magazine.

Chandler serves on a variety of boards including the City of Charleston’s Commission on the Arts, an appointment by the Mayor of Charleston, Association of Arts Administration Educators, Charleston Gaillard Center, and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. Among her awards are a Testimonial Resolution by the City of Detroit (MI) City Council for her research on Motown bassist James Jamerson, Faculty of the Year ExCEL Award (College of Charleston), and the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities, the state’s highest award in the humanities given to an individual.  Chandler has also been recognized on the South Carolina Arts Commission’s “Forty Lists Project” as an Outstanding Arts Administrator.

Andrea Davis always felt that everyone should have access to the products that are considered better for us, but unfortunately items labeled as “natural” or “organic” aren’t typically affordable to many. As a young wife and mother, she understands the importance of maintaining a budget. She initially started making handcrafted soaps as a way to provide more natural options to her own family and friends, and again considered the fact that cost keeps so many people away from healthy, quality products.

Motherland Essentials is an extension of her nurturing spirit to each of you.

Her ultimate goal is to foster an appreciation of all things natural and provide an opportunity to fall in love with natural skin care as much as she has. Everyone should have the ability to exercise the right to place quality over price, and Motherland Essentials is working toward achieving this goal one product at a time.
WEBSITE motherlandessentials.com
FACEBOOK @motherlandessentials
INSTAGRAM @motherlandessentials

Herb Frazier is a Charleston, South Carolina-based writer. He’s the former marketing director at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. Before he joined Magnolia, Herb edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier.

In 1990, the South Carolina Press Association named him Journalist of the Year. He has taught news writing as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan.

After leaving daily journalism in 2006, Herb led journalism workshops in Sierra Leone, Zambia, Ghana, Suriname, Guyana and The Gambia for the U.S. government and a Washington-based journalism foundation.

His international reporting experience includes West Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia and Rwanda during its post-genocide. He also reported on the conflict in Sierra Leone. Herb has written about the historical and cultural ties between West Africa and the Gullah Geechee people of coastal South Carolina and Georgia.

He is the author of “Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories.” He is a co-author of “We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel” with Marjory Wentworth and Dr. Bernard Powers Jr. Herb’s forthcoming book, “Crossing the Sea on a Sacred Song,” is the story of an African funeral song that links a woman in Georgia with a woman in Sierra Leone.

Kylon Middleton was born and reared in Charleston, South Carolina and educated in the public school system in Charleston County. Kylon graduated from Burke High School and matriculated to the College of Charleston, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications. He has received graduate and advanced degrees from the following institutions: Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary – Columbia, South Carolina; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Duke University – Durham, North Carolina.
He served as a high school English teacher, an assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator in the public school systems in South and North Carolinas.

Kylon has successfully served as a Pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church for over 25 years. He is currently the proud Pastor of Historic Mount Zion AME Church on Glebe Street, where he is leading the congregation in a multi-million restoration and expansion project and breathing new life into the congregation with a focus on racial healing, reconciliation, and transformation.

Kylon is extremely active in the Greater Charleston community. He led the City of Charleston’s Illumination Project. He is the YWCA Tri-County MLK Ecumenical Chairperson, Charleston 350th Community Outreach and Service Committee Chairperson, a member of the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, member of Coastal Community Foundation G&L Committee, Charleston Forum Board of Directors, Chapter President-Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., WM-Boaz Lodge No. 309 F&AM PHA, member of Progressive Chapter No. 310 OES, a member of the Robert B. Elliott Holy Royal Arch Masons, and a member of the George Washington Carver Consistory No. 162. Most recently, Kylon was elected to Charleston County Council, representing District 6.

Kylon has one son, Kylon Joshua Middleton, a graduate student at East Carolina University.

Kellen Gray has earned a reputation as a versatile and imaginative conductor through his enthusiasm for traditional, experimental, and integrative multimedia art programs. Presently, he serves as Assistant Conductor at the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

Before his Charleston appointment, Kellen was a Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellow, and later, Assistant Conductor at Chicago Sinfonietta, under Music Director, Mei-Ann Chen. Before leaving Chicago, Kellen made his Chicago Symphony Center debut, which Chicago’s Picture This Post described him as having, “…laser-like focus that allowed the entire orchestra to seem to become one organism.” The Classical Voice of North Carolina referred to Kellen’s gestures as “… so smooth and polished they’re almost choreography.”

From 2014-16, Kellen was Assistant Conductor at the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra under Music Director, Howard Hsu; and one of eight Conducting Fellows selected to study at Eastern Music Festival, under Gerard Schwarz, Grant Cooper, and Jose-Luis Novo.

At the 2018 League of American Orchestras conference, Kellen was a discussion panelist on the value of leadership pipelines in classical music based on diversity, inclusion, and equity. At a 2017 festival celebrating the 100th birthday of Georgia-born author, Carson McCullers, he was awarded the honor of guest-conducting a collaboration of the music of David Diamond and the premiere of Karen Allen’s debut film, “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud.”

Kellen’s recent and upcoming conducting endeavors include the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Charlotte Ballet, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Philharmonic, Northwest Florida Symphony, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

WEBSITE kellengray.com
INSTAGRAM @kellengrayconductor

As the youngest of 6 children, Regina Duggins hails from the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, NY. In 2010, Regina moved to Charleston, SC in search of an opportunity for change. Born to Rosemary Duggins and the late Sampson Haynes Sr. (murdered when Regina was age 3); her parents hail from St. George, SC. On April 30, 1977, Regina was born. Regina began her love and passion for helping youth at the age of 12 due to being a two-time survivor of childhood sexual abuse. While attending her NYC Public school Regina started in her living room; her first Hip Hop & Reggae dance group called “New York Styles” which throughout her teen years was her most prized possession. Regina graduated 6 months early from high school in her senior year. Regina then went onto receiving her undergraduate degree – An associate’s in Child Studies and a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Program Administration/Early Childhood Education from Cazenovia College in NY. Her Masters of Science Degree in Special Education and a Doctoral Degree in Program Administration with an emphasis in K-12 learning. Currently, Regina is a CCSD Reading Interventionist employee working closely with the Special Education Dept of Military Magnet Academy. Regina is also a District 20 Constituent School Board member. She is also the founder of a girl’s mentoring program called “Black Magic Girls” as well as the founder of Charleston Black Pride (LGBTQ organization for people of color), former League of Women’s Education Director, Graduate of Charleston Rise Cohort 2 parent advocacy group, self-published author/poet of two poetry books entitled “Black Magic” & “Black Coffee; No Sugar, No Cream!” and a fiction book entitled, “New York Styles, What Time Is It?” Regina has performed in several local events including plays and poetry readings for the MOJA arts festival. Regina is the 2019 award recipient of the Spotlight awards for servant leader in honor of the Emanuel 9 “Ethel Lance Award.” As well as the 2019 ACHI magazine award winner for “Volunteer of the Year.” The winner of the 2020 Harvey-Whitlock-Benett Women’s History Month Missionary Service award. Regina is the loving mother/aunt of 5 of her nieces & nephews: Regina Jr., Sampson, Daquin, Latavia, & Lyasia as well as the grandmother of her precious princess “Joy.” Regina’s favorite quote amongst several is “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!” by Fannie Lou Hamer as well as the belief that she is “the voice of those who feel voiceless.”

BOOK New York Styles, “What Time Is It?” $18
BOOK Black Magic $13
BOOK Black Coffee; No Sugar, No Cream $15

*Autographed copies: Cashapp $reginaduggins77 or PayPal reginaduggins77 & $5.00 shipping fee

WEBSITE charlestonblackpride.org
FACEBOOK @gina.mocha

BERNARD E. POWERS JR. earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American history at Northwestern University and in 2018 retired as professor emeritus of history from the College of Charleston after twenty-six years. Currently Powers is the founding director of the College of Charleston’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston.  He has presented papers on various aspects of African American history at conferences and reviewed books and manuscripts for journals and presses. His work appears in book chapters and in scholarly and popular periodicals.  He edited the 1999 Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Black History Month Kit entitled “The Legacy of African American Leadership for the Present and the Future.”  His article “Community Evolution and Race Relations in Reconstruction Charleston, S.C.” was included in the Century of Excellence Centennial Volume 1900-2000 of The South Carolina Historical Magazine (July,2000). A recent book chapter is “Churches as Places of History: The Case of Nineteenth Century Charleston, South Carolina,” in Interpreting African American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites (2015). Powers is the author of Black Charlestonians:  A Social History 1822-1885, (1994) a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book for 1995. He was an associate editor of the Encyclopedia of South Carolina (2006). He co-authored We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel(2016) which contextualizes the city’s 2015 racially motivated murders. Most recently he has edited 101 African Americans that Shaped South Carolina (2020) published by the University of South Carolina Press. His current research examines African Methodism in South Carolina. Bernard Powers has appeared in documentary films, including the PBS production, “African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” and “Emanuel: The Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting.” Powers has been extensively involved in public history and has served as a consultant for historic sites.   He is the founding past president of the Charleston Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.   He was also president of   the South Carolina Historical Association and of the Advisory Board of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. He is an emeritus trustee of the Historic Charleston Foundation and a former member of the City of Charleston Tourism Commission. Powers has also served as the interim president of Charleston’s International African American Museum (IAAM).

In 2019 the Association for the Study of African American Life and History recognized Powers’ lifetime commitment to “research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history” with the Carter Godwin Woodson Scholars Medallion.

Bernard Powers is a member of Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston, where he also serves on the Board of Stewards.  He is married to Lorraine O. Powers who is a retired school administrator.

Jirah Perkins is a multidisciplinary artist based out of Charleston, South Carolina. She has been creating ever since she was a child.  Art has always been her favorite way of expressing her creative voice and has stood as a tool of therapy. She experiments through different mediums and styles with a focus on women empowerment. Jirah incorporates her photography references, bold colors and textures and even poetry to create a sensory experience through her work.

Her most recent collection, “Miss Mary Mack”, focuses on the representational meaning of childhood handgames. This collection involves the use of abstract and realistic subjects to depict the flair and unadulterated joy of black-girl hood.
WEBSITE ujorii.com
FACEBOOK @Ujorlifineart

Osei Terry Chandler is the widowed father of three adult offspring. A retired educator, he was the Director of the Educational Opportunity Center at Trident Technical College.

Osei continues to voluntarily produce and host the Roots Musik Karmau for South Carolina Public Radio. This Caribbean oriented music program has been broadcasting since April, 1979… almost 40 years. Chandler was recently inducted into the Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame.

Chandler’s voice can be heard on the “Weekend Jazz” segment of the widely syndicated “Jazz Works” programs.

Because of his various involvements and committments Osei has been called a “community activist”. Osei’s family, (along with four or five other families), was among the first to practice Kwanzaa publically in Charleston in 1978.  He co – founded the still active Ebony City Soccer Club – “The Li’l Peles”; he is co- founder of the Charleston Remembrance Program (an annual commemoration to the African  ancestors who perished during the Middle Passage); Osei has served as Presidentof the Avery Institute of Afro-American History & Culture and as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Avery Research Center.

Chandler has hosted a good number of concerts; he has facilitated and pasrticipated in a variety of presentations and panels relative to the enlightenment and upliftment of his family and his community.

Osei Terry Chandler holds a bachelor of Arts degree form MacMurray Colleg and Master’s Degree from Webster University.

The founder of @BlackFoodFridays, KJ Kearney, created this initiative to encourage people to support Black owned food and beverage businesses each and every Friday. Started in April of 2020, at the beginning of the global pandemic, the original goal was to highlight Black owned restaurants that were open during COVID-19. It has since evolved into an aggregate landing page for people, all over the world, who are being intentional about spending with Black owned food-based businesses.

KJ is also the creator of the TikTok video series entitled #BlackFoodFact. His 60 second Black food history lessons were featured on the Today Show for making “Black Food History More Accessible.” The Black Food Fridays message has been shared in local, national, and international publications such as: The Charleston City Paper, The Post & Courier, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller UK, Mic.com, The Takeout, NBCBLK, Twisted UK, and the aforementioned Today Show.

WEBSITE blackfoodfridays.com
INSTAGRAM @blackfoodfridays
TIKTOK @blackfoodfridays

Mike Brown is connected to the people of North Charleston and the challenges they face every day. Mike grew up in public housing before moving to three interdependent communities (Union Heights, Howard Heights, and Windsor); he not only understands the struggle of many of the constituents in North Charleston, he’s lived it. Those experiences have fashioned his perspective and will assist him in serving the constituents of North Charleston. Mike has over 19 years in leadership experience as well as over 20 years in public service. Mike has transcended from the obstacles of a failing public school system, crime plagued neighborhoods and limited resources, to running a successful small business and being self employed by age 23. Mike’s focus is on addressing crime, academic engagement and improving economic opportunity for all.

Quiana Parler, is the lead vocalist for the critically-acclaimed, Grammy award winning quintet, Ranky Tanky. While a Harleyville native, Quiana relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1998, after beginning her professional career a few years prior singing for Calvin Gilmore of “The Carolina Opry” and eventually becoming one of the most sought after vocalists in the Low Country. 

In 2003, her placement in the Top 48 of the hit TV show, American Idol, led to her being a featured vocalist on numerous national tours and sharing the stage with some of the country’s most well-known artists including Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, 

Keith Sweat, Clay Aiken, and Miranda Lambert. Quiana has also recorded with some of the music industry’s most respected producers like Walter Afanasieff and David Foster.  

In addition to her world-wide touring experience, Quiana has appeared on broadcast programs including NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, Tyra, NBC’s Today, and many more. 

Quiana continues to live in the Charleston area with her son and as a lead vocalist of the Grammy Award winning band Ranky Tanky who was recently recognized and honored with a resolution by SC House of Representatives for their achievements in the music industry.

WEBSITE quianaparler.com 
INSTAGRAM @quianaparler 
FACEBOOK @quianaparlerlive 
TWITTER @qpaler

Dr. Brown, a native Charlestonian, was elected to the MUSC Board of Trustees in 2018 as the medical profession representative from the Sixth Congressional District. Dr. Brown is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and after years of service and two sea tours in the Navy, he returned to Charleston to teach Naval Science at The Citadel. While at The Citadel, he earned a master’s degree in Education and Biology and then went on to graduate from the MUSC College of Medicine in 2002. After graduation, he returned to full active duty in the U.S. Navy as a physician. During his twenty years of service, Dr. Brown received the Navy Commendation Medal six times, the Navy Achievement Medal twice, a Presidential Citation, and two Battle Efficiency ribbons. Dr. Brown holds staff privileges at Trident Medical Center and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston as well as the Lexington Medical Center in Columbia. He is an active member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the Owls Whist Club. He sits on the executive boards of the Star Gospel Mission and YESCarolina. Dr. Brown and his wife, Deborah, have two children, Gabriel and Lillian.

For more than fifty years, Mr. Lonnie Hamilton, III has dedicated his time and efforts to making Charleston a better place. Former educator, politician and professional musician, he is an alto saxophonist and clarinetist. After touring with the Jenkins Orphanage Bands (he was never a resident) during the mid-1940s, he played with his own band, Lonnie Hamilton and the Diplomats, the signature jazz

band in Charleston for decades. Hamilton has been called a legend and the embodiment of Charleston’s rich jazz legacy. 

Before he went on to achieve distinction as an educator, celebrated public official and professional musician, Mr. Lonnie Hamilton, III faced humble beginnings. He attended Burke High School, which was the only high school in the area for African American students. Inspired by watching the Jenkins Orphanage Band parade down Spring Street to Broad Street on Saturday afternoons, Mr. Hamilton saw music as the key to his future success. After high school, Mr. Hamilton was offered a music scholarship to attend South Carolina State College in Orangeburg. 

He played music throughout his time in College and went on to serve as the Band Director at Sims High School for two years before being invited to serve as Band Director at Bonds-Wilson High School – a position he held for 20 years. Mr. Hamilton’s Diplomats was the house band for a very popular jazz nightclub he owned on Charleston’s North Market Street (it later moved to the 2nd floor of Henry’s Restaurant) in the 1970’s through the early 1990’s. Mr. Hamilton performed in 2010 with the Charleston Jazz Initiative Legends Band and is also featured on its first CD recording.

Techa Smalls-Brown is an artist in every sense of the word. Using her gifts to add beauty wherever she goes. Techa is a native of Charleston but grew up in Trenton, NJ. Techa has been an educator for 20+ years with the Charleston County School District. As a teacher, she has taught exceptional children, African-American studies at the secondary level, and Elementary Montessori. She is also endorsed as a Gifted and Talented Teacher. In 2019, she completed the Omega Institute’s Transformative Educational Leadership program (TEL). The program centers around equity and inclusion, mindfulness, bringing systemic change to K through 12 school systems, and social-emotional learning. 

As a result of this work, she is equipped to integrate mindfulness-based social-emotional techniques in academics and focus on equity and ethical learning in school systems. 

She is serving a second term on the newly formed Historic Preservation Commission for Charleston County. 

Techa is a true visionary. She holds an M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Trauma and Resilience in educational settings from Concordia University, Nebraska. Currently, Techa is a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Leadership and Change at Antioch University. 

With this degree, Techa seeks to be a change agent to help transform the lives of others. Techa is a facilitator for the Millennium Forum, which is an online platform that brings together educators from all over the world to create a community of support and educator well-being. She is also a Meditation Teacher and Still Soul Studio in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Techa, along with her co-host Jen Savage created the Namasteach Podcast, which focuses on educator well-being and self-care. 

Recently, Techa and Jen had the opportunity to interview the best-selling author Elizabeth Lesser. She is passionate about art, plants, and music. Techa is married to her soul mate, Michael J. Brown, who has been a part of her life for over 25 years.

Daniel Green is a multi-faceted artist born and raised in Charleston, SC. Best known for his funny personality, photography, and creative video production, Daniel is a true visionary. He has a gift of bringing visions to life, using skills he’s gained through dance, film, photography, and graphic design to communicate visions visually, in a way that resonates with the target audience. Daniel is an advocate for following your passions and chasing your dreams as the greatest version of yourself. 

WEBSITE artofdanielgreen.com
FACEBOOK @artofdanielgreen
INSTAGRAM @art.of.daniel.green

Ann Caldwell, born Antoinette Williams, has lived and worked in Charleston, SC, since 1955. For over twenty-five years, Ann has made her living as a vocalist and performing artist, singing jazz, R &B, pop, folk, gospel, and spirituals. She is the director of the Magnolia Singers, an acapella singing group. Ann has written and produced local concerts as well as her first video presentation, titled “A Lesson in Spirituals.” During the onset of the COVID-19 virus, she wrote and produced a video presentation, titled “Exodus: Bound for Freedom,” for the Gibbes Museum of Art. She was the featured vocalist in a production presented by the College of Charleston and the Lowcountry Heritage Society, titled “Indigo Jazz,” with the late Tommy Gill. She wrote and produced a presentationfor the McClellanville Art Center, titled “The Blue Box.” Ann’s recent projects include: “From Africa to the White House,” a 45-minute African American history lesson for children; “A Lesson in Spirituals,” a lesson on the art of singing spirituals; and“A Journey of Return,” a story of her family’s migration from her birthplace in Denmark, SC, to Charleston, SC. All these projects combine storytelling and singing. Ann received the Three Sisters Award from the Committee to Save the City, Inc. in 2009 and the Legacy Award for the Arts from Sister Summit Foundation in 2007. In 2018, she was honored by being inducted into the Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame.

WEBSITE anncaldwell.net
INSTAGRAM @the_magnolia_singers
TWITTER @PraiseHouse2015

Recorded on July 14, 2022 as part of Denmark Vesey Bicentenary Weekend, presented by Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episocopal (AME) Church, International African American Museum, and the Charleston Gaillard Center. 

Truth Be Told was a discussion with leading American writers and thinkers about the truth around Denmark Vesey and his planned uprising, the impact and outcomes in the intervening 200 years, and a look at the present and future of those themes in the South today. Panelists included:

  • Lee J. Bennett Jr., Mother Emanuel AME Church Historian and panel moderator
  • W. Kamau Bell, Comedian, Director, and Executive Producer
  • Charlamagne tha God, Media Mogul and TV Personality
  • Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, President & CEO of the International African American Museum
  • Dr. Tamara Butler, Executive Director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
  • Dr. Bernard Powers, Founding Director of the College of Charleston’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston
  • BAMUTHI (Marc Bamuthi Joseph), Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at the Kennedy Center, librettist and poet

To learn more about the Denmark Vesey Bicentenary and about each panelist, please visit the website here

Elana Boyd-Pea, MBA, MHA, MHS 

Founder / President of Black Charleston Professionals 501c3

Owner / Lanas Locs

Co-owner / Lanas Locs Organics


Elana Boyd-Pea is a proud wife, mother, sister, daughter,and believer. As the founder and president of Black Charleston Professionals, she has worked to form the organization’s purpose to provide a safe space for black professionals. 

Oftentimes, African Americans in various industries feel overlooked and devalued. BCP was created to provide entrepreneurs and professional individuals with resources to grow, connect, and network. Elana is a product of entrepreneurs. Her mother Ethel Boyd successfully owned and operated Ethel’s Child Development Center for thirty years. Her father Howard Boyd owns and operates Howard’s Barber College, the first black-owned barber school in South Carolina, and Howard’s Barber Shop. Elana has a Masters of Health Care Administration, Masters in Business Administration, and Master Hair Care Licensure. She worked in healthcare for twelve years while providing haircare services on the weekends to loyal clients. Her last role in healthcare was as the Human Resource Director for Harvest Health. Elana also owns Lana’s Locs, a beauty service provider, and Lana’s Locs Organics, an organic hair and body product line. Elana always noticed that African Americans were devalued in the workplace. After reaching her goal in corporate America as a director in leadership, she still felt unfulfilled and undervalued. While in that role, she corrected the disparity of underpaid African American staff to meet the rate of their colleagues. After she realized the flexibility entrepreneurship offered and with the support of her husband Deterick Pea, Elana decided to “leap” and leave corporate America. She wanted to use her knowledge, skills, and abilities to pour into the family-operated barber school. She is fulfilled most when providing opportunities and resources to empower black leaders and entrepreneurs. She gains joy in seeing others around her grow and become their best selves. Her favorite quote is: “You have an exclusive invite to the table, where your seat is reserved.”

For more information on Black Charleston:
WEBSITE blackcharlestonpros.org
Instagram: @blk_charleston @lanaslocs

In 2013, the remains of thirty-six people were found during renovations to the Gaillard Center. The burial ground and human remains were carefully excavated by archaeologists. Archaeological and bioarchaeological research shows that the thirty-six people were buried in the second half of the 18th Century (around the time of the Revolutionary War) and are of African descent. They included children, women and men who were likely enslaved persons. Some were captured in Africa and brought to Charleston during their lifetimes, while most of these Ancestors were born here. They were buried over time with care in roughly four rows, some in wooden coffins, some wearing clothes with buttons, and some wrapped in a shroud. A child was buried with a glass bead, possibly in her hair, while another had coins placed over his eyes.

In 2017, Dr. Ade Ofunniyin, a cultural anthropologist and the founding director of the Gullah Society, made a request to the City of Charleston to rebury these thirty-six African Ancestors. Over the next two years, the Gullah Society, now the Anson Street African Burial Ground research team, guided the memorialization process. They conducted DNA research to learn more about ancestry of these individuals, hosted community conversations, held a Naming Ceremony, and sponsored education and arts programs and exhibitions in schools and other venues throughout Charleston County. On May 4th, 2019, the community came together for a ceremony that included drumming, a masquerade, the pouring of libations, poetry, dance and music to honor the Ancestors, who were reinterred in a vault beside the Gaillard Center. We recognize the anniversary of the reinterment of our African Ancestors near the Gaillard every year on 4 May through storytelling, drumming, and the pouring of libations. These photographs were taken at the third-year anniversary in 2022. To learn more about this project and the work of the Anson Street African Burial Ground team visit www.asabgproject.com

To learn more about the individual speakers, please visit our website here.

Michael A. Allen grew up in Kingstree, South Carolina; he is a 1978 graduate of Kingstree Senior High, as well as a 1982 graduate of South Carolina State College with a degree in History Education. He began his public career with the National Park Service in 1980 as CO-OP Education Student. He has served as a Park Ranger, Education Specialist as well as the Community Partnership Specialist for The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor/Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site.  In 2014, he was assigned by the National Park Service to participate as a lead team member on The NPS Special Resource Landmark Study exploring the history and legacy of The Reconstruction Era in American History. Because of this groundbreaking effort, a new national park service site was establishment by Presidential Proclamation, Reconstruction Era National Monument on January 12, 2017.  In December 2017, Michael Allen retired from the National Park Service after a 37 and half years’ career of public service. He is also the husband of Latanya Prather and father of Brandon, Shaelyn and Isaiah. He lives in Mount Pleasant, SC and is active in community affairs.

Michael Allen has been a community activist for most of his professional life. He has a deep-seeded interest in our nation’s spiritual growth as it relates to the history and culture. He played a major role in the National Park Service’s Gullah-Geechee Special Resource Study, which began in 2000. The Gullah-Geechee Special Resource Study examined the feasibility and suitability of establishing educational centers as well as determining ways to increase interpretation and preservation of this valuable culture. The final report was presented to Congress in the May of 2005. In October of 2006 the US Congress through the leadership of fellow SCSU Alumnus Congressman James E. Clyburn, and the tireless support of Michael Allen the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Act was passed which established the first and only African American National Heritage Area in the Country.  In October of 2007, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Commission, which was comprised of 25 Grassroots citizens’ members from all four states of the corridor. His primary responsibility was to ensure that this new National Heritage Area become a reality in an effort to provide hope, opportunity and support to grass root organizations and the wider Gullah Geechee Community. In October of 2009, he was formally elevated to the Director’s Position for the Corridor and directed the efforts of the corridor to develop a Management plan that will guide the operations of the corridor for the future.

Throughout his career, Michael Allen was involved in designing exhibits and presenting interpretive programs that involve local communities and history. These programs were designed to attract non-traditional audiences to National Park Service and other historic sites. He was instrumental in 1999, in erecting the “African Importation Historic Marker” on Sullivan Island; in 2008, he assisted the Toni Morrison Society and the College of Charleston in erecting a “Bench by the Road” commemorative bench at Fort Moultrie to memorialize the islands participation in the African slave trade. Finally, in 2009 he was instrumental in unveiling “African Passages” an exhibit that highlights the African arrival, presence and contributions to Gullah Geechee Culture and American society through the eyes of Africans and African American who passed through Sullivan Island on their way to be enslaved in the Charleston and beyond. An additional focus of his career has been the inclusion of the socio-economic and political influences that brought the country to Civil War. He was appointed and serve on the South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee that oversaw the observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War as well as the events of Reconstruction.

He also has been involved in a number of other innovative projects designed to engage new audiences in understanding and appreciating African and American history.  He was a founding Board Member of the International African American Museum, which is slated to open in January of 2023 in Charleston SC. It will offer a glimpse of Africans and African Americans contributions in the making of the modern world.  In addition to his association with the International African American Museum, in 1993 he was a founding member and former Vice President of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission.  He was the past Treasure for the South Carolina Council for African American studies. He also served as a board member for a number of local and statewide organizations such as, The African American Historical Alliance, Habitat for Humanity’s East Cooper and the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association and the Long Point Road Historic School Association. On June 11, 2013, Michael Allen received the 2013 Historic Preservation Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor Office, Palmetto Trust and the South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History. He was presented with the SC State University Distinguished Alumnus Award during Founders Day weekend on March 2, 2014.  In September 2014 Michael Allen, was recognized for his exemplary leadership in environmental issues at the George B. Hertzog Jr. Awards Luncheon, an annual event hosted by the Institute for Parks at Clemson University. The luncheon and lecture are named for Hartzog, the seventh director of the National Park Service. During the luncheon, Allen received the Robert G. Stanton Award, named in appreciation of the remarkable career of Stanton, the first African-American director of the National Park Service. The Robert G. Stanton Award recognizes recipients for sustained and innovative achievements in promoting racial or ethnic diversity in the management of North America’s natural, historic and cultural heritage. In 2015 The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission recognized Michael by presenting him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, Michael Allen received The Williamsburg County School District Hall of Fame Award as an outstanding graduate of Williamsburg County School system. In April 2019, Governor Henry McMaster recognized Michael with the Order of the Palmetto. This is the highest civilian award to be given to citizens of South Carolina by the Governor of the South Carolina.  In additional to these awards he has received a number of other awards from Fraternal, Civic, Governmental and Community organizations. In January of 2021 Michael received the Martin Luther King Portrait Awards. This award recognizes people who emulate the spirit of community service portrayed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Finally, on October 21, 2021 Michael Allen was awarded the 2021 Governor’s Award in Humanities which recognize outstanding achievement in helping communities in South Carolina better understand our cultural heritage.

Since his retirement he is still active and vested in preserving the life, legacy, contributions and heritage of African Americans in the context of SC and US history. He was instrumental in assisting Historic Charleston Foundation in the management of the Mosquito Beach Civil Rights Project (2018-2020). This NPS funded project on James Island, resulted in the nomination and inclusion of this Historic Civil Rights landscape to the NPS National Register of Historic Places in October of 2019. In additional, in February 2020 a website was created and launched to capture the humanitarian spirit of this valuable resource. In addition, a SC State Historic Marker and interpretative panels will soon be place near the entrance to Mosquito beach and along the historic corridor of this site. In August of 2019 Michael partnered with Reconstruction Beaufort a community and nationwide efforts to highlight the history and legacy of the Reconstruction Period. He served as the former Chair of the Advisory Board for this organization. This effort was developed to enhance the capacity of the Reconstruction Era National Historic Site as well as to assist with enhance educational awareness of this challenging period in American History.

Michael currently serves as Community Preservation Specialist at SC State University his Alma Mater in Orangeburg SC. Michael is supporting the University in managing a HBCU grant from the National Park Service. This grant is funding the restoration and rehabilitation of Wilkinson Hall one of the oldest structure on the campus of South Carolina State University. His primary responsibilities are to ensure that the restoration of Wilkinson Hall adhere to the NPS HBCU grant guidelines, additional all of the quarterly and yearly reports are developed and submitted by Mr. Allen. Finally, his tenure with the National Park Service creates a professional, cordial and open relationship between SCSU and the National Park Service.   

As you can see, Michael Allen’s professional and personal career has been filled with accomplishment after accomplishment. Throughout it all his kindness, compassion and empathy have led to bridge community gaps and helped community leaders understand each other in a more meaningful way.

Finally, Michael’s motto is, “to understand the present and move toward the future, you must first know and accept your past.

WEBSITE Tastee Treats SC

Kimberlyn has lived in Charleston for the past 10 years. She has over 25 years of marketing experience in the financial services and consumer packaged goods industries and most recently running a local nonprofit.

In 1999, she joined Coca-Cola and ran their local grassroots multicultural marketing program in Nashville and Jackson (TN). She increased sales for the Coca-Cola portfolio by 75% her first year and increased Coca-Cola brand perception (measured via focus groups) with an emphasis on the flagship brand Coca-Cola Classic. 

Always looking for her next challenge, Kimberlyn left Nashville in June 2001 for Charlotte, NC as promotions manager with Coca-Cola. While in this role, she learned more about product and package development, while continuing to support the multicultural marketing efforts. Some of the exciting launches she worked on included: FridgePack, Diet coke with Lemon, Diet Coke with Lime, Vanilla Coke, Coke Zero, Full Throttle, and Sprite Remix. For each launch, she supported the sales team by providing relevant in-store collateral, developing sampling programs as well as partnering with field managers to help execute launches flawlessly.

In November 2005, she left the carbonated beverage industry and joined Bank of America as VP of Small Business Marketing where she created and managed end to end marketing campaigns for small business products and services using traditional and digital media. In 2009, she joined the Home Loans team to develop various marketing strategies, including the strategic vision to help distressed homebuyers get the assistance needed during the housing crisis. In 2012, she was promoted to Senior Vice President of Marketing Programs for Home Loans ensuring Bank of America met its Community Reinvestment Act objectives with low- to moderate-income homebuyers. Furthermore, she developed financial education tools to help potential homeowners understand credit and the process of getting a mortgage. And lastly, she created effective demand generation email strategies for the auto and home equity loan teams to maximize clicks and online product applications.

In September 2019, she started K Davis Marketing Group and has worked with the Beach Company, the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Charleston Men’s Chorus handling various marketing and fundraising initiatives including message framework development, direct response and social media marketing and community outreach.

In August 2020, Davis was named the executive director of the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation. In this role, she is overseeing the entire effort to build a national memorial, called the Emanuel Nine Memorial, which will honor the five survivors and remember the nine slain at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.

WEBSITE emanuelnine.org

​​Damon Lamar Fordham was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on December 23, 1964, to Anne Montgomery and was adopted by Pearl and Abraham Fordham of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, the following year. He received his master’s degree in history from the College of Charleston and the Citadel and his undergraduate degrees from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He is currently an adjunct professor of World Civilizations, United States History, and African American History at Charleston Southern University and The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and he has taught American History and African American Studies at the College of Charleston. He was a weekly columnist for the Charleston Coastal Times from 1994 to 1998, and he is the author of The 1895 Segregation Fight in South Carolina, Mr. Potts and Me, Voices of Black South Carolina: Legend and Legacy, and True Stories of Black South Carolina. In 2006, he co-authored Born to Serve: The Story of the Woman’s Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina.

Research and articles by Fordham appear in the books Sweetgrass Baskets and the Gullah Tradition by Joyce Coakley, South of Main by Beatrice Hill and Brenda Lee, Orangeburg 1968 by Cecil Williams and Sonny DuBose, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African-American Folklore for the University of Missouri Press, and The Malcolm X Encyclopedia for the University of Southern Mississippi Press.

He has also commented on history and storytelling for numerous radio and television programs in the United States, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom. In May 2022, he accompanied fellow educators on a ten-day educational fact-finding tour of Senegal and Gambia, West Africa, where he toured the Slave Port at Gorre Island and spoke to students at the University of The Gambia. He also appeared on the NBC LX News and CBS Sunday Morning in 2022.

Fordham conducts a walking tour called “The Lost Stories of Black Charleston.” He has been recognized by the South Carolina House of Representatives for his work in education, historical research, and social justice.

His motto is: ”Educate yourself to lead yourself, for if you wait on others to show you the way, you will wait for a long time.”

TOUR WEBSITE The Lost Stories of Black Charleston

BOOK True Stories of Black South Carolina

BOOK Voices of Black South Carolina: Legend & Legacy

BOOK The 1895 Segregation Fight in South Carolina

A Charleston native, Tessa graduated from Bishop England High School and received her B.A. degree in Mass Communications from Baptist College at Charleston (now Charleston Southern University). Following college, Tessa served in the U.S. Army Reserves and is a veteran of the first Gulf War.

Her broadcasting career spans over 30 years with stops in Greenville, SC; Providence, RI; and Nashville, TN, where she also earned a spot as a cheerleader for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans in 1999.

Tessa returned home to Charleston in 1999 and worked as one-half of Z93’s “Breakfuss Club” until 2011. Tessa and her co-host earned numerous awards, state recognitions and local honors including a proclamation from Charleston Mayor Joe Riley naming June 21st “Tessa and Baby J Day.”

Tessa’s personal honors highlight her community service, the empowerment of women, and leadership. She is an EMMY nominated anchor and RTDNAC winner for her work on ABC News 4.

As a television voice-over artist, Tessa can be heard nationally as the announcer for the syndicated “Gospel Stellar Awards,” “Mentoring Kings,” and “America’s Black Forum.”

Tessa began a television career in 2010 and joined the ABC News 4 Team fulltime as a reporter in 2011. She rose through the ranks and is now the main evening anchor.

She can also be heard weekdays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) on Cumulus Broadcasting radio station Magic 107.3 FM.

PODCAST Testimonies with Tessa Spencer

CUMULUS RADIO Magic 107.3 and Z93 Jamz!

ABC 4 Profile

Funding for the program provided by

Mark Elliott Motley Foundation

With media support provided by


Setting the Stage

Lowcountry Listens

Dance Initiative


Our Impact

Our Supporters

Our Educators

Accessibility and Sensory Inclusion

COVID-19 Policies