COLUMBIA, SC. One Columbia for Arts and History is proud to announce Dr. Bobby Donaldson, a leader in the preservation of Columbia’s civil rights history, as the recipient of the 2017 Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award. The award will be presented Friday, November 17 at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium.
The Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award is an annual recognition of a Columbian who reflects many of the values and qualities of those generously given by One Columbia’s former leader in support of the growth and vitality of his City of Columbia. Morrison, who passed away in 2013, co-chaired the One Columbia Arts and History Board of Directors for three years.
Dr. Donaldson began his career at the University of South Carolina in 1999 and now leads the Center for Civil Rights History and Research, housed in the Hollings Special Collections Library. He also serves as the lead scholar for Columbia SC 63: Our Story Matters, a documentary history initiative that chronicles the struggle for civil rights and social justice in Columbia.
Additionally, he has served as a consultant for museum exhibitions, archival collections, oral history initiatives, documentary films, and historic preservation projects, including the renovation of the Booker T. Washington High School in downtown Columbia. In 2008, the Historic Columbia Foundation awarded Dr. Donaldson and his students the Helen Kohn Hennig Prize for their documentary project on the Ward One community in downtown Columbia.
Dr. Donaldson is a native of Augusta, GA, and received his undergraduate degree in History and African-American Studies from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in History from Emory University where he served on the staff of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project. Previously, he held the Thurgood Marshall Fellowship at Dartmouth College and the Susan Biddle Ford Fellowship at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
“I am extremely honored by this recognition,” says Donaldson. “Steve Morrison was a phenomenal ambassador for our city–an extraordinary, brilliant, and energetic leader who exemplified the very best in civic engagement. I had the good fortune of serving with him on the founding One Columbia board.“
He continues, “As a history professor at USC and as the lead scholar for Columbia SC 63, countless students, colleagues, and community members have joined me in uncovering, documenting, and promoting our city’s rich and diverse histories. It is enormously gratifying and indeed inspiring to sit down, record, and listen to memories and enduring lessons of the past. I am proud of our efforts to bring greater voice and visibility to often overlooked and unrecognized chapters in our collective history. I am humbled by this award, and I am excited about the work and collaborations ahead that highlight why our stories matter.”
“Professor Donaldson’s efforts to document and tell the story of the civil rights struggle here in Columbia have made a tremendous impact on the cultural foundation and fabric of our city. His work has ensured that Columbia will not forget the role its citizens played in the struggle for civil rights and social justice so that current and future generations may appreciate and honor those contributions, but may also understand the work that remains to be done as we continue to march toward those honorable goals. We are extremely proud and humbled to honor Professor Donaldson by selecting him as this year’s recipient,” says Jeremy Hodges, President of the One Columbia for Arts and History Board of Directors.
The recipient of the Steve Morrison Visionary Award honors the best combination of vision and leadership, applied to arts and history and the entire cultural foundation of the City, and the value they bring to Columbia.
“One Columbia for Arts and History recognizes the cultural and community significance of Dr. Bobby Donaldson’s influence in our community along with the substantial contribution he has made in recognizing the role of Columbia’s citizens during the civil rights movement,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Dr. Donaldson has become the incredibly articulate and passionate voice of the rich, colorful and often painful story highlighting the contributions of the African seed in our Columbia sun. He has left an indelible mark on this amazing city that we call home.”
The award will be formally presented Friday, November 17 at 6 p.m. at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium, 1400 Wheat Street, on the USC campus.