Damon L. Fordham and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg Come Together for Living Your Truth Conversation at Mt. Zion AME

(left to right) Mayor John Tecklenburg, Marion Gill, and Damon Fordham

Historian Damon L. Fordham and City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg reflect on Charleston’s past and present, and how history has shaped their commitment to social justice and racial equity at the November 15th Living Your Truth conversation. Sponsored by the Sophia Institute’s Social Justice, Racial Equity Collaborative, this Living Your Truth event will be back at at Mount Zion AME Church from 6 pm until 8 pm, but this time on a Thursday. The moderator of this conversation will be Marion A. Gill, who recently became the Director of Museum Planning and Operations at the International African American Museum after working at the Smithsonian Institution for more than 30 years where she played key roles in the planning, opening, and operating of the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Damon L. Fordham is a local historian, author, lecturer and member of Friendship AME Church. Fordham received his Master’s Degree in history from the College of Charleston and The Citadel, and his undergraduate degrees at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He currently teaches Western Civilization at The Citadel. He has also taught U.S. History and African-American Studies, at the Charleston Southern University and the College of Charleston. He has even taught GED classes to inmates at the Charleston County Detention Center through the Trident Literacy Association, and is proud of assisting 28 inmates in getting their high school equivalency diplomas. A writer, Professor Fordham was a weekly columnist for the Charleston Coastal Times from 1994 to 1998, as well as the author of Voices of Black South Carolina-Legend and Legacy (Charleston: History Press, 2009), True Stories of Black South Carolina (Charleston: History Press, 2008), Mr. Potts and Me (Evening Post Books, 2012), and co-author of Born to Serve-The Story of the WBEMC in South Carolina in 2006. He has served as a commentator for the British Broadcasting Company documentary The Real Amos and Andy, and the South Carolina Educational Television documentaries All the Children of All the People, Where Do We Go from Here, and Africans in America-A South Carolina Perspective. His television appearances also include the Turner South Network Commercial My South Speaks (2006) and the History Channel Documentary All for Liberty (2005). 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.”

Mayor John Tecklenburg has been the City of Charleston Mayor since 2016. Tecklenburg graduated from Georgetown University and attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he pursued his lifelong passion for music and jazz. After graduation, he returned to Charleston where he founded, owned and operated Southern Oil Company for nearly 20 years. Upon selling his business, Tecklenburg served as the City of Charleston’s Director of Economic Development and was tasked to help lead the revitalization of Upper King Street. Since becoming mayor in 2016, Tecklenburg’s efforts include improving city-wide livability, implementing the City of Charleston Sea Level Rise Strategy, addressing housing affordability and homelessness in Charleston and working to revitalize West Ashley. Tecklenburg and his wife Sandy, who reside in Old Windemere, are the parents of five grown children.

The Social Justice, Racial Equity Collaborative, convened by The Sophia Institute, seeks a just, sustainable, and thriving community where all people are empowered to fulfill their human potential. With its 37 member Council and multiple Engagement Partners, the SJRE Collaborative works from the inside out to recognize a healthy, diverse, and inclusive community grows out of an acknowledgement of interdependence and shared humanity. By addressing the challenges that emerge from structural and institutional racism, the SJRE Collaborative is working to transform Charleston into a more just and equitable place to live, work, and thrive. The SJRE Collaborative is nonpartisan and does not support candidates or parties. This conversation is the tenth duet in a series, which began last year.

More information about the Social Justice, Racial Equity Collaborative can be found by contacting its co-chairs Barbara Kelley-Duncan at [email protected] and Carolyn Rivers at [email protected]

This is a free event. Registration is requested to help with planning at The Sophia Institute under events.

1 Comment

  1. George Walker on November 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Dear Mayor John Tecklenburg.

    It is my assumption that you are familiar with the work of the great psychologist named Abraham Maslow. Mr. Maslow described a ” hierarchy of needs ” that are assigned priorities in the lives of individuals ( and groups of people ). When the most basic needs of food, affordable housing, access to healthcare, employment, education, transportation, and public safety are lacking in a person’s life, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. I’m sure the intentions of such a meeting are good. However, let’s be honest ; the people in attendance will be people whose basic needs in life have been attained. As a politician, you are aware of the age-old problem of voter apathy. I would like to propose the idea that the most vocal vote on election day is the NON-VOTE : who sacrificed their privilege to vote, and why? There is only one explanation for low voter morale : the perception that voting is a ZERO GAIN activity. Either this assumption is imagined or it is real. If the same people who do not vote are offered a higher paying job in exchange for the inconvenience of moving, most if not all of them will vote YES on behalf of the offer! If someone is losing sleep due to worries about paying the rent, they will vote YES on behalf of being trained by a minority contractor to, let’s say, help rebuild the NAVAL HOSPITAL. They will vote yes for opportunity!!!! Will the same people, however, inconvenience their lives to partake in a ” Living Your Truth Conversation ” ? Probably not. Mr. Mayor John Tecklenburg, perhaps you should delegate to time to meeting with community activists that are close to the needs and ambitions of the people. Jesse Williams, Shakem Akhet, ReZsaun Lewis, Anjene Davis, Aaron CStock, Louis Smith, T’aira L Harris, Thomas Dixon, Ricardo Perry, Greg Perry Sr. and MANY other Charleston activists have brilliant solutions to pressing issues such as gentrification. Sir, your city is NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION in terms of gentrification making life unlivable and sometimes unworkable due to the high price of rent, housing, and even parking space. Even if these issues are discussed at this event, will people who have the credibility of the community be present to formulate solutions to anything. Just a few things to keep in mind Sir. May your meeting be blessed.

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