For the past four months English major Jordan Wiggins has participated in the Modjeska Simkins School, a program geared towards people who not only want to learn the untold history of South Carolina but to also conduct research and engage in social activism within the community. Being among PhDs, historians, and social activists, Wiggins is the youngest African- American to graduate this year and on a full scholarship.
According to the organization’s website, “Named after legendary human rights activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins, the school offers a forum for citizens of all ages to learn about the history of their state in the context of race, gender, economic inequality, and sexual orientation. All of these struggles have played a role in shaping modern South Carolina.”
Wiggins shows his interest in these topics stating, “I always had a need to be in a space where ‘being normal’ isn’t required. I want to discuss the topics that everyone is scared to have and be the voice to those whose voice isn’t heard. The Modjeska Simkins School not only allowed this incubator of knowledge to happen but with the opinions and contexts of people of many cultures, ethnicities, and races. I appreciate my professor Dr. [Catherine] Adams for informing me of the school and helped me apply.”
Participation in the program also required students to do other research and to also participate in “field trips” and archival studies. Students participated in viewing the “Justice for All” exhibit at the University of South Carolina hosted by Dr. Bobby Donaldson. Students participating in the school were also required to read a set of texts and study guides as part of the lectures for each session. “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn was one of the denser texts used during the program. Wiggins mentions that his professor, Dr. Adams, introduced other texts outside of those that were required in order to better understand the different topics.
In order to graduate Wiggins must commit to a practicum, or a service project that will impact the community. With the help of Dr. Adams, he has decided to commit to two practicums. The first being a co-hosted podcast on Historically Black Universities that will cover a wide range of topics and feature many guests including HBCU students. The second was a submission for a call for papers for a conference panel. The research is around the topic of the protest of African-American Students at colleges, especially HBCUs, and why African-American students might protest. Wiggins states, “We tend to forget about these Historically Black Colleges. We study the civil rights movement and their great leaders, but we don’t discuss the college training they had and also how African- American college students contributed.” He goes on to mention that conducting the research for the call for papers submission stemmed from the editing and revising summer course offered at Allen University.
Wiggins and his cohort will graduate on Friday, July 29 at 2015 Marion St. Columbia, 4-6 p.m.