[image-1]When asked, many students associate slavery with physical production such as the picking of cotton, says one College of Charleston professor. In this city and on the campus of the College of Charleston, what most don’t associate with slavery are the ivy-covered buildings where students spend countless hours studying. But it’s probably not too hard to believe.

If These Walls Could Talk is a documentary doubling as the first in a series of films that plan to guide diversity training on campus. Created by a committee of College of Charleston faculty and staff, the film focuses on enslaved Africans and their contribution to the construction of College buildings.

“We are intentionally building a bridge for healthy reconciliation efforts by producing a film series that captures the narratives of marginalized individuals who contributed to the first municipal college in the United States,” says Charissa Owens, project leader and director of diversity education and training in the Office of Institutional Diversity.

One of the primary aspects of the film centers on the perspectives of faculty, staff, and students.

“I found a general consensus of individuals wanting the College to acknowledge and memorialize in a visible, meaningful, and lasting way, the contributions enslaved Africans made to our campus. People seemed tired of simply talking about this issue and were passionately ready for action,” says Michael T. Owens, documentary writer and adjunct professor English.


In light of the College of Charleston’s 250th anniversary, working toward racial reconciliation is a pressing topic, and the team behind the documentary hopes it serves as a catalyst for introspection and a means to explore something that isn’t as widely known.

If These Walls Could Talk is set to release Spring 2020.

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