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State of the South: Charleston, South Carolina | February 5-7, 2024 | February 5, 2024

Join us for State of the South in Charleston, SC as we gather around food, art, and critical conversations on how we can make Charleston, South Carolina, and the larger South equitably accessible to everyone.

We live in a moment of incredible potential to uplift people and communities and to create a South where everyone has access to resources that support their well-being. We believe we can realize something better through candid dialogue that includes everyone. It will require us to imagine and design new systems and identify strategies to realize new policies and investments.

The State of the South Program seeks to amplify the issues that exacerbate racial inequity, economic insecurity, and poverty. We support an equity agenda for the South and work to deepen relationships with stakeholders, communities, and professionals working on equitable systems change.

We will bring together policymakers, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, community members, and artists to understand the policies and investments needed to support communities. Your voice is essential to these critical conversations.

Check back here for program, registration, and facilitator updates.

 

Monday, February 5: 

11am-1pm: Ending Predatory Lending in South Carolina 

Join us for a conversation to understand how high-cost, predatory lending generates a debt trap resulting in financial burden for individuals and families; what alternatives to high-cost lending are available; and what regulations are needed to create fair lending practices in South Carolina. 

Venue: The Opportunity Center

The Opportunity Center
8570 Rivers Avenue
North Charleston, SC 29406
Overflow parking is available at 8551 Rivers Avenue Charleston, SC 29406.

Facilitators:

  • Rev. Fedrick A. Wilson, Live Oak AME Church of Vance, SC and South Carolina Respite Coalition
  • Sue Berkowitz, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center
  • Kerri Smith, Self Help Credit Union

6pm-8pm: Developing a Southern Equity Agenda: A Community Gathering 

Imagine a South where all people thrive. This opening reception will feature food, celebrate local artists, and inspire conversations about the key equity issues that Charleston, South Carolina, and the South as a whole are facing.  

Venue: Avery Research Center at College of Charleston 

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
125 Bull Street
Charleston, SC 29424

Facilitators & Artists: 

  • Welcome by John Simpkins, President and CEO, MDC
  • Harlem Farr, Singer Songwriter
  • A$iahMae, Charleston Poet Laureate
  • Demetria Adriane McNeil and PoorRichKollective, Choreographer/Dancer

Catering by: The Carolina Cookery

Tuesday, February 6: 

10am-1pm: Understanding the History and Policy Driving Inequity in Charleston 

Join us in a participatory exercise to trace the history of events, policies, and lived experiences in Charleston and gain local insight into how they have amplified inequity. We will examine current equity indicator data prepared by Duke University Social Science Research Institute to understand the policies needed to develop a better, more equitable future.   

Venue: Royal Missionary Baptist Church 

Royal Banquet & Conference Center at Royal Missionary Baptist Church
4750 Abraham Street
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

Facilitators & Artists: 

  • Kerri Forrest, MDC 
  • Dr. Jessica Sperling, Duke University Social Science Research Institute 
  • Dr. Adrian Brown, Duke University Social Science Research Institute  
  • Marcus Amaker, Charleston Poet Laureate

2pm-4pm: Legislative Advocacy for Nonprofits: Strengthening Nonprofit Coalitions 

With the recent decline in nonprofit advocacy, there are missed opportunities for building coalitions committed to equitable policy change. This workshop will clarify the legal limits of legislative advocacy for nonprofits and best practices for driving policy change at the state and local levels to better serve communities.  

Venue: Royal Missionary Baptist Church 

Royal Banquet & Conference Center at Royal Missionary Baptist Church
4750 Abraham Street
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

Facilitators:  

  • Michelle Mapp, South Carolina ACLU 
  • Courtney Thomas, Cypress Fund
  • Bernie Mazyck, South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development 

6pm-8:30pm: Advancing New Policy to Disrupt Housing Displacement and Gentrification in Charleston 

Join us for a conversation on the changing nature of Charleston and the need to protect Black families and communities from further displacement. We’ll explore the economic drivers leading to current displacement and identify policies and investments needed for communities to thrive. 

Venue: Royal Missionary Baptist Church 

Royal Banquet & Conference Center at Royal Missionary Baptist Church
4750 Abraham Street
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

Policy Discussion Facilitators and Artists: 

  • Inclusionary Zoning: Craig Logan, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce 
  • Growing Housing Stock for Low-to-Moderate Income Households: Dorothea Bernique, AFC – Increasing H.O.P.E Financial Training Center
  • Special Assessment Real Estate Tax for Land Trust Homeowners: Henrietta Woodward, Community First Land Trust, and Rodly Millet, LAMC
  • Eviction Right to Counsel: Kenya Cummings, SC Housing Justice Network
  • YIMBY 2024: Changing the Perspective on Gentrification: Anjene Davis, Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood Association
  • Issues of Heirs’ Property: Alexa Stephens and Josh Walden, Center for Heirs’ Property
  • A$iahMae, Charleston Poet Laureate
  • Demetrius Doctor Trio

Catering by: The Carolina Cookery

Wednesday, February 7: 

10am-12pm: Investing in Equitable Entrepreneurial Development

This session will invite participants to consider the policies and investments needed to support Black, Latino, and women entrepreneurs in starting, growing, and maintaining thriving businesses in Charleston. Participants will discuss a variety of strategies to support new businesses and ensure an equitable marketplace. 

Venue: Royal Missionary Baptist Church 

Royal Banquet & Conference Center at Royal Missionary Baptist Church
4750 Abraham Street
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

Facilitators and Artists: 

  • Growing Executive Training for Entrepreneurs: Herbert Drayton, HI Mark Capital 
  • Growing Grant Funding for Early Start-Ups: Raquel Padgett, Economic Continuity Alliance 
  • Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development and Guarding Against Anti-Equity Efforts: Bernie Mazyck, South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development 
  • Deepening Connections Between Neighborhood Businesses and Communities: TINYisPOWERFUL
  • A$iahMae, Charleston Poet Laureate

2-4pm: Growing Philanthropic Investment in South Carolina 

In this dialogue, we will examine the need for sustained, flexible funding in South Carolina. We will explore how projects can be scaled up to disrupt poverty by attracting philanthropic investment from outside the state.

Venue: Royal Missionary Baptist Church 

Royal Banquet & Conference Center at Royal Missionary Baptist Church
4750 Abraham Street
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

Facilitators and Artists:  

  • Melissa Levesque, Coastal Community Foundation 
  • Donna Waites, Sisters of Charity Foundation
  • Amber Brown, Grantmakers For Southern Progress

6:30pm-8:30pm: Envisioning an Equitable South 

In our closing session, we will reflect on the challenges, opportunities, and hope for the future that we have discussed over the past few days. We will hear words of inspiration and enjoy art, food, and fellowship as we move forward with hope for an equitable South where everyone thrives.  

Venue: Royal Missionary Baptist Church 

Royal Banquet & Conference Center at Royal Missionary Baptist Church
4750 Abraham Street
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

Facilitators & Artists:

  • Marcus Amaker, Charleston Poet Laureate
  • TINYisPOWERFUL
  • Harlem Farr, Singer Songwriter

Catering by: The Carolina Cookery

Closing Reflections, Next Steps, & Pathways Forward, TINYisPOWERFUL 

 

Questions? stateofthesouth@mdcinc.org

 

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