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sjrec, Social Justice Racial Equity Collaboratice, The Sophia Institute Calendar of Events
sjrec, Social Justice Racial Equity Collaboratice, The Sophia Institute Calendar of Events
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Our Framework:

We recognize the urgent need for systemic change around racial justice in Charleston. We are cognizant of the widely shared feeling that conversation is not enough. In creating the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, The Sophia Institute seeks to convene and align respective goals, resources, and audiences to maximize collaborative impact for Social Justice and Racial Equity.

Our Vision:

A just, sustainable, and thriving community where all people of all races are empowered to fulfill their human potential.


Living Your Truth – Conversations in Courage

Living Your truth is a series of conversations with those on the front lines, who bravely and gracefully live the truth of their hearts within their formidable lives.

Our Mission:

We inspire collaborative action by advancing bold strategies that promote personal, structural, and systemic change in social justice and racial equity through truth, healing, and transformation.

Our Agenda:

Our agenda is simple; we want to influence social justice and racial equity in Charleston. Over the next 3-5 years, we will work to:

  1. Address truth, healing, and transformation and bring about systemic change in our community
  2. Support and lead vital conversations that lead to actionable strategy and policy improvement for people of color in the areas of education, policing, gun violence prevention, healthcare, housing, economic justice, and expansion of voting rights and democracy
  3. Develop culturally competent leaders who understand the rich and complex racial history of our community and are empowered to act with an equity lens
  4. Promote racial equity while creating a new legacy of social justice within Charleston

Our Approach:

Working from the inside out, we recognize that a healthy, diverse and inclusive community grows out of an acknowledgment of our interdependence and shared humanity. Using a collaborative approach, we convene leaders and thought-partners across race, gender and generations to resolve historical and contemporary barriers to access and opportunities for people of color. By addressing the challenges that emerge from structural and institutional racism, we are transforming Charleston into a more just and equitable place to live, work and thrive.

Through collaboration with our Council and Engagement Partners, we create alignment and support to existing effective community initiatives addressing social justice and racial equity in the following areas:

  • Access to quality education for all
  • Ending discriminatory policing
  • Gun violence prevention
  • Access to affordable and adequate healthcare
  • Assure housing affordability
  • Expand Voting Rights
  • Economic justice and competitive wages

Our work:

Over the next year, we will focus on the following strategies:

  • Continue and enhance Living Your Truth series focusing and contextualizing on each of 7 areas of focus required for truth, racial healing, and transformation through the lens of the past, present, and future possibilities
  • Identify and select training, education and leadership development programs and models that will inspire corporate and civic leaders and community members to develop culturally competent leadership and to foster a new understanding through expanding perspectives and develop models to fund this work
  • Launch the 365 Racial Equity Campaign – a campaign that puts racial equity in our minds and hearts every day and is a way for the community to take a concrete step in partnership with the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative and consciously think about racial equity and social justice each day

Our Invitation:

Join us by investing in a socially just and racially equitable Charleston. A commitment on your behalf – both emotionally and financially- at $1 a day will ensure that we have the resources to take the next steps in our Truth Racial Healing and Transformation process that we feel is the missing piece.  With your support we will be able to advance our work, engage the community, and move the needed forward toward a just, sustainable, and thriving community where all people of all races are empowered to fulfill their human potential. For more Information on how you can engage in this movement, please contact us.

Your pledge of $1 a day, $365 per year, over the next three years will benefit the lives now and for future generations to come. Donate now and become a member!

Council and Engagement Partners Who Endorse the Draft Resolution Recognizing, Denouncing and Apologizing on behalf of the City of Charleston’s Role in Regulating, Supporting and Fostering Slavery and the Resulting Atrocities Inflicted By the Institution of Slavery and Further Committing to Continue to Pursue Initiatives that Honor the Contributions of Those Who Were Enslaved and That Assist in Ameliorating Remaining Vestiges of Slavery

  • The City of Charleston is the place where nearly half of all enslaved people entered North America. This city’s beginning prosperity and robust economy were dependent upon the free labor, technical expertise, and craftsmanship of those peoples who were enslaved. Our City has continued to prosper and grow because of this history, and is now recognized as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
  • This is not an apology by any individual. It’s an apology made on behalf of the City of Charleston for its role in regulating, supporting and fostering slavery and the resulting atrocities inflicted by the institution of slavery.
  • Healing can only begin after the recognition and apology of wrongs. The recognition and apology is the first step of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation and lays the groundwork for the deeper healing to follow.
  • Charleston is not the first public body to apologize for slavery. As an example, during the June 1995 Southern Baptist Convention, an apology was given to African Americans for “defending slavery in the antebellum South for condoning racism in our lifetime.” Other cities, including Annapolis, Maryland and Macon Georgia, and 9 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Connecticut and Virginia, have passed official resolutions apologizing for their roles in the institution of slavery.

Learn more:

SJREC Collaborative Council and Engagement Partners:


Honorary Co-Chairs:

Hon. Alex Sanders
Hon. John Tecklenburg
Hon. Lucille Whipper

Leadership Team:

Audrey Lane   Co-Chair, 3E Educate, Empower, Elevate
Carolyn Rivers Co-Chair, The Sophia Institute
Herbert Drayton III, Vertical Holdings
Dwayne Green, Dwayne Green Law Offices
Amanda Lawrence, Trident United Way
Sandy Morckel, Solutions for the Greater Good
Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, Charity Missionary Baptist Church

Steering Committee Members:

Craig Ascue, Ascue’s Auto Body & Paint Shop
Nella Barkley, Crystal-Barkley Corporation
LaVanda Brown Johnson, YWCA – Greater Charleston
Rhoda Green, Barbados & Carolina Legacy Foundation
Amber Johnson, City of Charleston Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation
KJ Kearney, Charleston County School District
Don Kennedy, Charleston County School District
Phyllis Martin, Tri-County Cradle to Career
Andrea Schenck, Pacifica Humana Communications, LLC
J. Goosby Smith, PhD, The Citadel

Social Justice Racial Equity Council:

Jessica Boylston, Solutions for the Greater Good
Cam Busch, The Sophia Institute
Sandra Campbell, Civic Activist
Kerri Forrest, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelly Foundation

Quinetha Frasier, Social Missions Architects
Kristen French, Medical University of South Carolina
Paul Garbarini, Uniquely Charleston Tours
Shirene Hansotia Esq, ACLU of South Carolina
Julie Hussey, Civic Communications LLC
Wilbur Johnson, Clement Rivers, LLC
Barbara Kelley-Davis, Fashion with Confidence
Linda Ketner, KSI Leadership and Management Development
Marina Lopez, The Citadel – Oral History Program
Brittany Mathis Siewe, Nonprofit Professional
Caroline Mauldin, Happy & Bennett
Bernie Mazyck,  SC Association of Community Development Corporations
Madeleine McGee, Together SC
Rev. Kylon Middleton, Mt. Zion AME
Rodly Millett, East Cooper Medical Center Governing Board
Lee Moultrie, Lee H. Moultrie & Associates, LLC
Ben Pogue, Ben Pogue Law Offices

Denise Relyea, Womble Bond Dickinson (US), LLC
Thetyka Robinson, The Asiko Group
Rev. Jeremy Rutledge,  Circular Congregational Church
Minister Vertelle Seabrook, Charity Missionary Baptist Church
Geona Shaw-Johnson, City of Charleston
Rev. Bill Stanfield, Metanoia
Paul Stoney, YMCA of Greater Charleston
Kenda Sweet, Community Volunteer
Erica Taylor, Charleston County School District
Sandy Tecklenburg, First Lady, City of Charleston
Brenda Tindal, International African American Museum (IAAM)Eric Watson, Charleston County Sheriffs Office
Mike Whack, City of Charleston
Magistrate J. Seth Whipper, Charleston County Magistrate
Lydia Cotton, Art Pot
Garcia Williams, The MEDI Community Resource Center

Special Advisors

Melissa Maddox-Evans, Annapolis Housing Authority
Brenda Lauderback, Denny’s Corporation
Henry Smythe, Womble Bond Dickinson (US), LLP

Engagement Partners:

ACLU South Carolina
Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture
Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation
Center for Women
Charity Baptist Church
The Charity Foundation
Charleston Area Justice Ministries (CAJM)
Charleston Forum on Race
Charleston Illumination Project
Charleston Illumination Project
Charleston Legal Access
Charleston Promise Neighborhood
Charleston School of Law
Civic Communications
Coastal Conservation League
E3 Educate, Empower, Elevate
Friends of the Charleston Public Library
International African American Museum (IAAM)
League of Women Voters
Lowcountry Local First
The MEDI Community Resource Center
Mount Zion AME Church
Passages Artists Collective
Quality Education Project
Quality of Community Life Initiative
The Race and Social Justice Initiative
SC Association of Community Development Corporations
Second Presbyterian Church
Solutions for the Greater Good
Together SC
Tri-County Cradle to Career
Trident United Way
Unity Church of Charleston
YMCA of Greater Charleston
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Lowcountry
YWCA – Greater Charleston

The Living Your Truth forums.

Living Your Truth is a series of conversations with those on the front lines, who bravely and gracefully live the truth of their hearts within their formidable lives. Hosted by the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative Council, and convened by The Sophia Institute, it is our hope their words inspire and challenge each of us to find our own truths. Listen to them speak personally and passionately about their work for social justice, racial equity, and transformative change.


May and September 2017

Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III and Judge Alex Sanders, former President of the College of Charleston. Moderator: Carolyn Murray of Cn 2 on May 16, 2017 and also in Sept, 2017 for a continuation and at their request. Sept was moderated by Pierre Manigault of the Post and Courier Foundation.

November 2017

Dr. Millicent Brown and Mr. Armand Derfner, moderated by KJ Kearney.

January 2018

Mrs. Lucille Whipper and Ms. Linda Ketner, moderated by Patricia Williams-Lessane.

March 2018

Mr. Henry Smythe, J.D. and Judge Arthur McFarland, J.D. moderated by Rev. Joe Darby.

May 2018

Mr. Darrin Goss and Mr. Brian Duffey moderated by Rita Scott.

September 2018

Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton and Mr. Thomas Tisdale, J.D. moderated by Dr. Roof.

October 2018

Senator Marlon Kimspon and Rep Peter McCoy moderated by Madeleine McGee.

November 2018

Mayor John Tecklenberg and Dr.Damon Ford moderated by Ms. Marion Gill.

January 2019

Mrs. Melissa Maddox-Evans, JD and Rev. Bill Stanfield moderated by Amanda Lawrence.

May 2019

Dr. Melvin Brown and Dr. Andrew Savage, moderated by Dwayne Green.

June 2020

Maya Green and Courtney White moderated by Lavonda Brown. “A Focus on Youth Social Justice”

November 2020

Ralph Dawson and Henry Smythe moderated by Dwayne Green.

Problems of high social complexity cannot be peacefully solved by authorities from on high; the people involved must participate in creating and implementing solutions.

– Adam Kahane, Solving Tough Problems

“Imagine a culture in which everything is geared toward helping all individuals become the best human beings they can be; in which individuals are driven to devoting their lives to becoming enlightened by the natural flood of compassion for others that arises from their wisdom.” 

– Robert A. F. Thurman