Presbyterian College, in conjunction with the City of Clinton, will host the “Nat Fuller Feast: Together in Harmony” April 9 in the College’s Mabry-Smith-Yonce Building. The event is in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the end of the civil war and of a dinner hosted by Charleston’s most famous nineteenth century chef, Nat Fuller.
Fuller, a free black restaurant owner and caterer, invited both white and black citizens to gather as guests at his restaurant, in an attempt to bring together and unite South Carolina’s citizens in the wake of the civil war. During this historic event, the City of Charleston and the state experienced for the first time a gathering across the lines of color and on grounds of equality.
Ninety leaders from the community, including a mix of both African-American and Caucasian leaders, have been invited to gather together not only to re-enact and reflect on Fuller’s dinner, but to come together as a community to envision a brighter future.
“Presbyterian College is honored to host with the City of Clinton this commemoration of such an historic event,” said PC President Dr. Claude C. Lilly. “We look forward with excitement at continuing to work alongside the City to strengthen unity within the Clinton community and South Carolina at large.”
Clinton City Manager Frank Stovall said, “This event has the potential to change our community dramatically by becoming an annual reminder of the duty we all have to work together, in harmony, regardless of race, gender, or circumstance, to create a better community for our children, and our children’s children.”
Clinton is one of several South Carolina cities that will be hosting a banquet in commemoration of the event, including Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville. The call for this commemoration was sent out by David Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina. PC’s own Dr. Kendra Hamilton, assistant professor of English and head of the College’s Southern Studies Program, took up the call here.
“As a new faculty member who’s new to the Upstate of South Carolina, I had been wrestling with the question of how we can honor the past, but also move our campus and the Clinton community forward, into the now. Anything that bridges the gap between communities is really important at this time in history.”
The night’s program includes an invocation by the Rev. Dr. Blake Harwell, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Clinton; a Welcome by Hamilton; and a Blessing by the Rev. Rachel Parsons-Wells, director of Religious Life and Service at PC. Additional speakers include Stovall, the Rev. Steven L. Evans of the Friendship African-American Episcopal Church in Clinton, and President Lilly. The winners of the Clinton Chronicle’s Nat Fuller essay contest–Latonia Andrea Johnson and Kari Alene Young from Bell Street Middle School– will also be recognized.