USC Aiken Teams with Clemson Prof to Explore Race Relations

Lincoln Scholar Dr. Vernon Burton to Speak

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AIKEN, SC (10/22/2018) One of region's most prolific scholars and authors on the issue of race relations in the South will present "Lincoln's Unfinished Work," Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 10 a.m., upstairs in the University of South Carolina Aiken Student Activities Center. Afterward, Alexia Helsley and Dr. Meaghan Dwyer-Ryan of the USC Aiken History Department will facilitate a related discussion.

The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Vernon Burton, the Judge Matthew Perry Distinguished Chair of History, and professor of sociology, Pan-African Studies, and computer science at Clemson University, is heralded as a "renowned Lincoln scholar" and an "expert on race relations."

During his USC Aiken visit, he will explain how the Lincoln administration's values, ideals and policies are still relevant today. He will highlight how the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address have been applied for the last 150 years - and how they still apply today.

The university's Library Committee, School of Education, Department of History, and the Next Generation Leadership Network collaborated to make Burton's USC Aiken visit possible.

"Dr. Burton is one of the nation's most compelling researchers on the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln," said Dr. Lillian Reeves, chair of the Library Committee and assistant professor of education.

"Having thoughtful leaders like Dr. Burton challenge our students to consider Lincoln's notions of democracy and freedom and our nation's unfinished histories could not be more timely."

Burton will continue the thought-provoking discussion during a conference at Clemson, Nov. 28 - Dec. 1, also titled "Lincoln's Unfinished Work."

"This conference will discuss many of the dimensions of Lincoln's 'unfinished work' as a springboard to explore the task of political and social reconstruction in the United States from 1865 to the present day," he says.

This conference, which will feature more than 30 internationally-renowned scholars, is free and open to the public. Additionally, the event will include a workshop for public school teachers which is focused on teaching the history of race relations. Sociologist James Loewen will join Burton and others to facilitate this workshop.

"As Lincoln understood, education is critical to a democracy," Burton said.

"The purpose of the workshop is not to tell people what to think but to get people to think and analyze and question our history to try and understand how we got to where we are and to understand that we can learn from our history.

"We are in a good teaching moment, and I believe that South Carolina has the opportunity to lead the nation in a better direction, or to paraphrase Lincon, South Carolina can be our better angels."

For more on the conference, which will be an extension of the discussion at USC Aiken, go to: .

Burton has authored or edited more than 20 books and more than 200 articles and has been involved in numerous digital humanities projects. The Age of Lincoln (2007) won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Literary Award for Nonfiction and was selected for Book of the Month Club, History Book Club, and Military Book Club.

One reviewer proclaimed, "If the Civil War era was America's 'Iliad,' then historian Orville Vernon Burton is our latest Homer."

The book was featured at sessions of the annual meetings of the African American History and Life Association, the Social Science History Association, and the Southern Intellectual History Circle, and the latter was the basis for a forum published in The Journal of the Historical Society. Burton's In My Father's House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina (1985) was featured at sessions of the Southern Historical Association and the Social Science History Association annual meetings. The Age of Lincoln and In My Fathers' House were nominated for Pulitzers. His most recent book, is Penn Center: A History Preserved (2014).

Burton is the inaugural Judge Matthew J. Perry Distinguished Chair of History and professor of Pan-African Studies, sociology and anthropology, and computer science at Clemson University[VB1] , and the director of the Clemson Cyber Institute. He has taught at Clemson since 2010. From 2013-2015, he was creativity professor of humanities; in 2016 received the Clemson Dean's Award for Research in the College of Architecture, Art, and Humanities, and in 2018 received the first University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award. From 2008-2010, he was the Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University.

From 1974 to 2008, he was University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University Scholar and Professor of History, African American Studies, and Sociology at the University of Illinois. He was the founding director of the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (ICHASS) at the University of Illinois. At the University of Illinois, he continues to chair the I-CHASS advisory board and is also a senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) where he served as associate director for humanities and social sciences from 2002-2010.

Burton also serves as executive director of the College of Charleston's Low Country and Atlantic World Program (CLAW). He served as vice chair of the board of directors of the Congressional National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, 2009-2017. In 2007 the Illinois State legislature honored him with a special resolution for his contributions as a scholar, teacher, and citizen of Illinois.

Recognized for his teaching, Burton was selected nationwide as the 1999 U.S. Research and Doctoral University Professor of the Year (presented by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education). In 2004, he received the American Historical Association's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Prize. At the University of Illinois he won teaching awards at the department, school, college, and campus levels. He was the recipient of the 2001-2002 Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award and received the 2006 Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement. He was appointed an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer in 2004, a role in which he continues to serve.

Burton has served as president of the Southern Historical Association and of the Agricultural History Society. He was elected to honorary life membership in BrANCH (British American Nineteenth-Century Historians).

Among his honors are fellowships and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pew Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Humanities Center, the U.S. Department of Education, National Park Service, and the Carnegie Foundation. He was a Pew National Fellow Carnegie Scholar for 2000-2001. He was elected to the Society of American Historians and was one of ten historians selected to contribute to the Presidential Inaugural Portfolio (January 21, 2013) by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

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