CSU-Organized Local History Series Returns for 2007-2008

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- The popularity of an inaugural series of programs on the history of Columbus and the region has led a Columbus State University history professor to organize a second “Red Clay, White Water and Blues” series.

“The public response to these programs has been phenomenal,” said Virginia Causey, associate professor of history at CSU. “Dozens of people have requested that the programs be continued.”

Causey will moderate the hour-long programs planned for 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of most months from October 2007 through May 2008. (The series takes January off and the November program is the second Thursday.) During the inaugural 2006-2007 series, audiences averaged 150 participants for the programs, with even 50 “history nuts” braving severe storms and tornado warnings for the March session, Causey said.

“We hope this series of local history programs will continue to inform our citizens — both ’old Columbus’ and newcomers — about past people and events,” Causey said. “We want to provoke a dialogue between the past and present, a civic conversation that will help us understand and be prepared for what the future may hold.”

On Saturdays following each Thursday night program in November, December, February, March and May, interested participants will be able to board a 50-passenger CSU bus, also at no charge, and visit historic sites related to that month’s topic. Those trips will depart from the Columbus Public Library at 10 a.m. and return between noon and 1 p.m. Participants will provide their own transportation to the October event, and April’s event may feature a boat excursion. Directions to all program locations are online. Topics, locations and speakers for the history series include:

Indians in the Chattahoochee Valley, Oct. 4, Wynnton Elementary School Auditorium, featuring Richard Grounds, a Yuchi Indian who teaches anthropology at the University of Tulsa and directs the Yuchi Language Project, an attempt to preserve the language among younger Yuchis. The 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6 Saturday program at the Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Memorial at Fort Mitchell, Ala.,10 miles south of Columbus, features speakers, tours of the fort and memorial, demonstrations and an optional lunch of traditional Indian foods.

The Civil War in Georgia, Nov. 8, Port Columbus Civil War Museum, featuring Dr. Anne Bailey, a professor of history at Georgia College and State University and the author of War and Ruin: William T. Sherman and the Savannah Campaign, speaking on “Sherman’s March,” and Causey, who teaches local and Georgia history at CSU, speaking on “Wilson’s Raid.” Causey will also guide the Saturday, Nov. 10 tour of Civil War-related locations.

The Tuskegee Airmen, Dec. 6, Columbus Museum, featuring Christine Biggers, director of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Ala., and retired Col. Carroll Woods, a former Tuskegee airman and prisoner of war in Germany. Biggers will also lead the Saturday, Dec. 8 tour of the Tuskegee Airmen Commemorative Park in Tuskegee that departs the library an hour earlier, at 9 a.m. and returns at 1 p.m.

The Civil Rights Movement in Columbus, Feb. 7, Liberty Theatre, featuring Gary Sprayberry, a CSU professor of African-American history, and local participants in the movement. Sprayberry and Causey will lead the Saturday, Feb. 9 black history bus tour of Columbus.

Literary Columbus, March 6, Columbus Library, featuring Cathy Fussell, director of CSU’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, speaking on McCullers; Causey speaking on Augusta Evans, author of the celebrated novel St. Elmo; and Dr. Philip Schley, speaking about the historic Columbus house, St. Elmo, the inspiration for Evans’ novel. Fussell and Schley will lead the Saturday, March 8 tour of the McCullers Center, which was the author’s childhood home, and St. Elmo, the 18th Avenue house that’s not normally open to public tours.

An Environmental History of the Chattahoochee, April 3, W.C. Bradley Company on Front Avenue, featuring Roger Brown, a CSU professor of environmental science. Causey will likely lead the Saturday, April 5 tour of the Chattahoochee River from 10 a.m. to noon. Plans for a boat excursion on the river are in the works but still tentative.

Phenix City, May 1, Phenix City Amphitheater, featuring mystery novelist Ace Atkins, who’s currently completing a fictionalized version of the history of organized crime in Phenix City in the 1930s-1950s, and local residents who will share their memories from that era. Causey will lead the Saturday, May 3 tour of Phenix City sites, and there will also be a presentation at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 2 at the Columbus Museum by the filmmakers of the Phenix City documentary from the Center for Southern Studies, “In the Wake of the Assassins,” which has been shown on Alabama Public Television. The film deals with the June 18, 1954, assassination of Albert Patterson, who had just been nominated Alabama’s attorney on a platform of cleaning up mob-controlled Phenix City. Also related to this will be a 7 p.m. April 30 showing at the Columbus Public Library of “The Phenix City Story,' the Hollywood movie filmed in Phenix City.

For more information, visit http://history.colstate.edu/program.asp, write Causey at Causey_Virginia@ColumbusState.edu or call 706-327-5932.