City + Citizen News

Podcast: Untitled Reconstruction Project coming to Spartanburg Downtown Library, Oct. 20–22

Thursday, October 5

Performance chronicles Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan violence in Spartanburg County


As it is in much of the South, Reconstruction is one of Spartanburg's least understood historical periods. A tumultuous time that is often glossed over, sandwiched between the Civil War and our area's well-covered industrialization and rise as a textile manufacturing powerhouse, Reconstruction in the Upstate was a bloody time when the Ku Klux Klan and other paramilitary groups terrorized African Americans through beatings, lynchings, and intimidation, all with the intent of stripping away political power and ensuring that recently freed former slaves would remain second-class citizens. Ultimately, the tactics were successful, helping to initiate an era of Jim Crow segregation and disenfranchisement that would last for generations.


Now a local theater project, curated by Anna Abhau Elliott and Crystal Tennille Irby, seeks to tell part of that story. "Untitled Reconstruction Project" is a performance based on 1871 Congressional Joint Select Committee testimony of residents living in Spartanburg County who were terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan. For the project, interviews were adapted from the committee's report, part of a Federal investigation in which three Northern Congressmen interviewed freedmen, political organizers, white, black, rich, poor, town folks, and country folks throughout the South. Today on the podcast, we're talking with Elliott and Irby about the project and about this seldom understood time in Spartanburg's history.


Want to listen to our podcast on your iOS device? Follow this link to subscribe through iTunes. Android user? Find us on the Google Play store here. Got Stitcher? Follow this link to listen. Podcast music provided by Spartanburg singer-songwriter, David Ezell.