Podcast: What can we learn from examining Reconstruction-era violence in Spartanburg County?
Untitled Reconstruction Project chronicled Ku Klux Klan violence in Spartanburg County
Last month, a local theater project, curated by Anna Abhau Elliott and Crystal Tennille Irby, highlighted one of Spartanburg's least understood historical periods, Reconstruction. "Untitled Reconstruction Project" is 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.
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, influencing politics throughout the South to this day.
Today on the podcast, we're talking with Elliott, Irby, and the Spartanburg County Public Library's Brad Steineke about their experiences with Untitled Reconstruction Project, the reaction from audience members who saw the performance, and the connections between that time in Spartanburg's history and our present day. Be sure to also check out our first podcast with Elliott and Irby, recorded before the performances, for more about the project.
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