Williams sat for an oral history with the Smithsonian in 2011 | Credit: Library of Congress/Smithsonian Institution

Legendary South Carolina photojournalist Cecil Williams will join photojournalists and scholars at College of Charleston Wednesday to discuss the evolution of the field and challenges of the current media environment.

Part of South Carolina Humanities’ “Picturing Democracy” series, “The Future of Photojournalism” panel takes place at 6 p.m., Oct. 13 at Sottile Theatre. The session will be moderated University of South Carolina associate professor Tara Mortensen. In addition to Williams, national freelance photojournalist (and City Paper contributor) Sean Rayford joins the panel, along with Kyser Lough, associate professor of journalism at University of Georgia.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required via Eventbrite.

Williams, who grew up in Orangeburg, captured images of South Carolina during the civil rights era, often chronicling young Black men and women resisting and protesting Jim Crow segregation laws. Williams’ images recorded the early work of future South Carolina leaders like Congressman James Clyburn, former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, the late former Judge Matthew Perry and others.

Williams, now 83, said during a Smithsonian Institution oral history that growing up in Orangeburg, “in the shadows” South Carolina State University and Claflin University, both historically Black colleges, influenced his life experience and professional work.

In 2019, Williams founded the independent South Carolina Civil Rights Museum in Orangeburg. His work makes up much of the museum’s collection.

Panelists will discuss the democratization of photojournalism and the “de-professionalization of photojournalism,” along with riffs on the future of the field from the panelists whose careers will likely cover more than a century of photographing and analyzing South Carolina newsmakers.