“It must be conceded that at this very hour, more so than at any time in the history of this nation, there is urgent need for the development of progressive thinkers to become the leaders of TOMORROW.” –
Modjeska Monteith Simkins wrote this in a 1946 announcement for the upcoming Leadership Training School at Harbison Junior College in Irmo, SC, under the auspices of the Southern Negro Youth Congress.
Some 70 years later, the Modjeska School curriculum and sense of urgency is much the same. Continuing in the tradition of Simkins’ school, the SC Progressive Network launched the Modjeska Simkins School for Human Rights in 2015 to educate and mobilize emerging social and political activists. The 13 classes include a people’s history of South Carolina designed to provide a framework for understanding our current political, economic, and social conditions, and to inform our ongoing work. Our intent is to graduate effective citizens who can improve the quality of life in South Carolina, and enrich their own lives in the process.
2021 Modjeska School graduate LaKisha Wheeler said, “I read about the Modjeska Simkins School and I immediately decided to enroll. I love learning and I thought it would be extremely beneficial to learn about the state where I reside, as well as the issues and concerns regarding Black People. It was amazing to learn about Modjeska Simkins and the HUGE role she played in advocating for Black People. I absolutely LOVE getting on Zoom every Monday learning SO much about where I was born and raised and the issues Black people STILL struggle with today. I
really enjoyed being able to talk to my children and family about what I learned.”
The entire session this year will be held on Zoom, meaning students may join us from the comfort of their homes or offices. We will have breakout rooms to make the classes as interactive as the online format permits.
Our lead instructor, Dr. Robert Greene II, is an Associate History Professor at Claflin University in Orangeburg. Dr. Green took his doctorate at USC, has published over 350 articles, and is a nationally respected historian of civil rights in South Carolina. USC Press just released Invisible No More, a collection of essays edited by Dr. Greene, about Black experiences at the university from slavery to current times. In the four years, he has led the school, students have been unrestrained in their praise of his talents as a teacher.
Dr. Bernie Gallman, a Columbia MD who has been presenting seminars for 40 years on Afrikan history prior to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, has joined the faculty and will
present the stolen history of the stolen people. “The school reveals the critical ways that race has warped the moral arc of our state’s history, and exposes the legislated lies being told today,” Dr. Gallman said. “Anyone who wants to improve justice and equality in South Carolina needs to attend.”
Beyond the regular classes, students are offered Deeper Dives, a closer look at key people and events in SC’s history of resistance. The Sunday Seminars are similar but are open to the public. This session’s guests include Dr. Vernon Burton, whose book Lincoln’s Unfinished Work was nominated for a Pulitzer, and was a multiple Book of the Month recommendation.
On Sunday, Feb. 20, students will meet each other and the faculty and staff from 4-6 pm. The Modjeska House will be open prior to the welcome for a tour. At the orientation on Monday, Feb. 21, we will review the purpose of the school, and view the SCETV documentary about Modjeska. Classes and Deeper Dives start Feb. 28, and continue on Mondays through June 27. Graduation will be held on Saturday, July 2.
Rev. Dr. Tom Summers, a retired United Methodist minister, and Modjeska School graduate, said, “I’ve been involved with the SC Progressive Network since its beginning, and this school is indeed one of the best products in their 26 years of fine work. For anyone interested in the historical and current struggle for racial conciliation in our state, I strongly recommend that they attend this unique school. I also urge every congregation to sponsor a student.”
Tuition for the entire 18-week session is $350, with monthly payments and scholarship assistance available. For details about the school, the class 2022 class schedule, and application process, see ModjeskaSchool.com.
Questions? Call 803-808-3384 or email email@example.com.