In celebration of the contributions of African Americans throughout our nation’s history, Patriots Point’s Institute of History, Science and Technology hosted a special symposium entitled, “Jenkins, Jazz and Jammin’ in Times of War and Peace.” The program was presnted to a full house and was also streamed live on the Patriots Point website (www.patriotspoint.org) and into Charleston County School District classrooms.
This symposium, the fourth in the museum’s educational series “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things,” focused on the Jenkins Orphanage Band, which got its start in Charleston, South Carolina in the late 1800s. Band members broke racial boundaries – traveling and performing at distinguished events around the world, including Presidential Inauguration ceremonies.
Guest speakers included former educator, politician and professional musician Lonnie Hamilton, III – himself a former Jenkins Orphanage Band member and director; Charleston’s first lady of jazz, Mrs. Ann Caldwell; and executive director of the Jenkins Institute for Children, Mrs. Johanna Martin-Carrington. Together, Mr. Hamilton, Mrs. Martin-Carrington and Mrs. Caldwell led the audience on a historical journey through Charleston’s rich jazz history with insightful discussion and unforgettable musical performances covering periods ranging from the Civil War through present-day. Prior to the start of the program, Northside Christian High School Band performed musical selections in Hangar Bay 1.
“We were honored to host such a distinguished panel to share their experiences and achievements as leaders in the Lowcountry and to explore the history of Charleston’s Jenkins Orphanage Band,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette.
“The Jenkins Orphanage Band left an indelible mark on jazz music, with alumni including such luminaries as William “Cat” Anderson, Jabbo Smith and Freddie Green,” Burdette continued. “This symposium was a great way to highlight the Band’s influence on the Lowcountry and on jazz music– shaping sounds that captivated a nation during times of conflict and in peace.”
In conjunction with this symposium, Patriots Point introduced a new exhibit, “Black Musicians in the Military.” The exhibit features historic photos of black servicemen who served our country during WWI and WWII. In addition to the new display, Patriots Point celebrates the significant contributions and achievements of African Americans in the military every day with the “Blacks in the Navy” permanent display on the USS Yorktown’s Tour Four.