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SCIWAY News No. 52 – February 2008


Previous Issues of SCIWAY News


In This Issue

  1. Who's Ready for a Road Trip?
  2. The 1968 Orangeburg Massacre
  3. February's Top Ten – Notable SC Websites
  4. SC Picture of the Month
  5. Celebrating SC Books and Authors
  6. Upcoming SC Festivals & Events
  7. Sandlapper Mystery Solved!

1. Who's Ready for a Road Trip?

Last month you showed us that we weren't the only ones itching to explore SC a little more. In response to our Recommend a Road Trip article we received plenty of great suggestions for outings around our state.

To return the favor, we promise to take a road trip every month – and report our adventures back to you. However, if you don't want to wait for us, visit our SC Road Trips Guide to plan your own. Develop your itinerary using ideas from other SCIWAY News readers, books, and travel magazines. Be sure to read one of our favorite ideas – a trip through Murrells Inlet and Georgetown sent in by Martha Hamel, a Lowcountry resident.

February is Black History Month, so for our first road trip, we turned to our friends at SCETV and KnowItAll.org, who developed the amazing "Road Trip! Through SC Civil Rights History" guide. It led us to the City of Orangeburg, where we took a peaceful stroll through the Edisto Memorial Gardens before heading to the former All Star Bowling Lane and SC State University.

Our timing was fortuitous. Not only were we able to take a tour of the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium on campus, we also got the chance to speak with students and staff about the upcoming commemoration of the Orangeburg Massacre.

Orangeburg and SCSU played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina in the 1960s. The 40th anniversary of the Orangeburg Massacre provides the perfect opportunity to revisit that history – and honor our past.

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2. The 1968 Orangeburg Massacre

South Carolina's relative peace during the Civil Rights Movement was shattered in 1968. On February 8th, on the campus of SC State University in Orangeburg, state police fired into a crowd of unarmed students protesting segregation at a local bowling alley. The shootings left three dead and 28 wounded. The next morning, Governor Robert E. McNair addressed the state, blaming this "unfortunate incident" on "black power advocates." The Orangeburg Massacre, predating Kent State by two years, received relatively little media attention. Even today, it is a part of our history that not many know about.

This year, South Carolina State will be hosting the Orangeburg Massacre 40th Commemoration Ceremony. Many of the survivors will be present, as well as the families of the three victims. The theme is Truth and Reconciliation. For those of you who would like to learn more about this important event in our state's history, visit our Orangeburg Massacre Resources Guide. You will find links to photos, books, news resources, and other useful information.

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3. February's Top Ten – Notable SC Websites

African American Historic Places in South Carolina - organized by county - read about and view pictures of sites with historical markers - requires Adobe reader

African Passages - images and descriptions of sites related to slavery in the Ashley River Corridor

Cities Mean Business - initiative promoting strong SC cities as a vital part of economic competitiveness and prosperity in our state

Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary - Georgetown - haven for abused, neglected, and unwanted exotic animals; also performs wildlife rescue and rehabilitation | Meet the Animals

Healthy SC - currently features a School Video Contest, where students can win big bucks for submitting winning commercials promoting healthy lifestyles - site no longer exists

Maritime Research Division, SC Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology - manages and studies intertidal and submerged archaeological resources on State-owned bottomlands - website includes slideshows of research projects and virtual tours of Maritime Heritage Trails

School Report Cards from the Education Oversight Committee - view individual school performance and improvement ratings, plus info on poverty index, dollars spent per student, and teacher retention

Senior Citizen Education and Elder Learning - opportunites for seniors around our state to further their education at area colleges for nominal fees

SC Archives and History Center virtual tour - Columbia - use links on left to navigate around the center - site no longer exists

WomensLaw.org - legal information for women living with or escaping domestic violence - use links for SC-specific info

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4. SC Picture of the Month

In our bustling capital city, a late winter sky drapes the Gervais Street bridge in a soft evening light.

Columbia Gervais Street Bridge
—  Columbia Gervais Street Bridge  —

Kathryn Harris was visiting Columbia last month when she shot the historic bridge at sunset. Finished in 1928, the Gervais Street bridge is Columbia's oldest spanning the Congaree River. One can easily admire its majesty from the Three Rivers Greenway that runs along the river.

Contribute your shot to the SC Picture Project or see our most recent photo submissions.

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5. Celebrating SC Books and Authors

Everyone knows Southerners are adept at weaving good tales. And given South Carolina's rich history and the characters intwined in it, it's no wonder we live up to this expectation.

This month we focus on authors and books that have become part of South Carolina's long-standing literary tradition. Our SC Books and Literary Resources Guide highlights fiction and nonfiction works that are either about SC or by Palmetto State authors. In it you can find gems such as:
  • One Foot in Eden - Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel from Chester native Ron Rash
  • South Carolina Encyclopedia - a compilation of essays, edited by SC historian Dr. Walter Edgar, covering everything from war and politics to popular culture and provocative lore
  • Amelia Bedelia - the first in a beloved children's series by Manning's own Peggy Parish
  • The Water is Wide - autobiographical novel from Pat Conroy, detailing his year teaching in a remote one-room school house in SC – Conroy won a humanitarian award from the National Education Association for his account
There's also a section of SC literary resources for all the writers out there who graciously allow us to wander through their imaginations. Highlights include:
  • Hub City Writers Project - Spartanburg - publishes place-based books and sponsors readings, writing seminars, and contests
  • SC Literary Map - allows you to research the many authors who have called South Carolina home
  • SC Center for the Book - celebrates SC's literary heritage and focuses on the importance of books, writers, and reading
  • South Carolina Writers Workshop - shares ways to improve your writing, network with others, and gain practical "how-to" publishing info
If our SC books and authors pique your interest, be sure to check out the 12th annual South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, February 22-24.

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6. Upcoming SC Festivals & Events

For a complete calendar of South Carolina festivals and events, visit http://www.sciway.net/calendar.html. Here are just a few of February's highlights:

Orangeburg Massacre 40th Commemoration Ceremony - Orangeburg - South Carolina State University - Feb 8

Florence Energy Film Festival - Films and discussion on energy and climate change - Feb 9 - site no longer exists

South Carolina Arts Advocacy Day - Columbia - Feb 12

Columbia's Longest Days: February 1865 - Anniversary of Sherman's march - Feb 15-17

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition - Charleston - Feb 15-17

Art and Antique Show - Spartanburg - benefits Spartanburg Art Museum - Feb 21-24

South Carolina Book Festival - Columbia - Feb 22-24

Lexington's Race Against Hunger - 5K walk, 10K run - Feb 23

Battle of Aiken - Civil War reenactments, crafts, food - Feb 23-24

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7. Sandlapper Mystery Solved!

Note: This is a follow-up to last month's article So What's a Sandlapper Anyway?

Fellow Sandlappers, it looks like we ate dirt. Clay to be exact, and lots of it. This clay was and still is found in the Sand Hills Region of our state – a region that cuts a wide swath through the center of South Carolina, stretching from our border with North Carolina at Charlotte to our border with Georgia at Augusta. These sand hills extend well into both of our neighboring states. In the nineteeth and early twentieth centuries, the people who lived in this area became known around the country as "Sandlappers."

Last month we presented several possible theories for the origin of our nickname. One looked at our geography with its heavy concentration of sand; another looked at our brave service during the Revolutionary War. Still a third looked at the devastating toll pellagra took on impoverished SC families far and wide. And while these theories are plausible and in two cases even partially true, in the end we may well be Sandlappers simply because we liked the way the stuff tastes.

This may not be as crazy as you think. The practice of eating clay was brought over by slaves from Africa, where it was believed to (among other things) soothe the stomach. Like many traditional remedies, this one has medicinal merit. Here in South Carolina, our clay is whitish in color and made of kaolin – a mineral you might recognize from its use in over-the-counter drugs like Kaopectate.

In medicine, when someone eats a non-food substance, like ice or paint chips, it is called pica. Eating dirt or clay in particular is called geophagia. No one knows for sure exactly what prompts people to eat dirt, but there may be benefits behind it.

For example, it is well known that pregnant women may crave soil of some sort. Other people believe it helps them lose weight. In poor areas, dirt has long been substituted for food. There is also a possibility that, like other forms of pica, geophagia takes hold when someone isn't getting enough of a certain nutrient (especially iron). This is an idea that is being explored by universities and health organizations in the rural south even today, where the practice still exists, especially among African-American women who learned it from their mothers.

Despite past and present connections with the black community, clay was a staple in the diets of many white people for years. Because of its light color, it may well have looked something like sand to those visiting our state. (The Sand Hills Region is also, of course, dense with layers of clay and sand, being a former coast.) These visitors were shocked by our habit, to say the least. "Carolina Clay-Eaters," "Sandlappers," and "Sandhillers" were belittled in many prominent publications. In 1866, The New York Times called us "the lowest representatives of the United States ... little more than mere animals ... strange, undeveloped [and] repulsive." On the plus side, the author did note we were "long-lived and rarely ill, realizing the old notion that dirt is extremely healthy."

Please visit SCIWAY's Guide to the Origin of the Term Sandlapper – it will teach you everything we know about this strange name we've taken with pride as our own. As the former editor of our state's Sandlapper magazine once said, "The nickname for all South Carolinians ... may have been of humble origin, [but] we hope [it] has been made honorable by tradition, affection and accomplishment."

  • Origin of the Term Sandlapper - SCIWAY's Guide
  • Modern-Day Clay Eaters - Article published by The Augusta Chronicle in 1999 - article no longer available online
  • Clay Eating Past and Present - The New Georgia Encyclopedia takes a closer look at this regional phenomenon
  • Geophagia: The History of Earth-Eating - Excellent worldwide overview - requires Adobe Reader
  • Information about Pica Disorders - Explains that "Pica may also be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia secondary to hookworm infection." Hookworms can be ingested along with clay and were a common infliction in South Carolina during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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© 2008 SCIway.net, LLC. "SCIWAY News"™ is written by the team at SCIWAY – with a lot of help from people throughout South Carolina. ISSN: 1527-3903.

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