For the past four months, Jordan Wiggins, an English major at Allen University, has participated in the Modjeska Simkins School, a program geared towards people who not only want to learn the untold history of South Carolina but who also want to conduct research and engage in social activism within the community. Being among professionals who have earned terminal degrees, historians and social activists, Wiggins is the youngest African-American to graduate this year, and on a full scholarship. The graduation ceremony for he and his co-hort was held June 29.
According to the organization’s website, “Named after legendary human rights activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins, the school offers a forum for citizens of all ages to learn about the history of their state in the context of race, gender, economic inequality and sexual orientation. All of these struggles have played a role in shaping modern South Carolina.”
Wiggins became interested in attending the school after his professor, Dr Catherine Adams, former assistant professor of English, suggested he apply for the program.
“The Modjeska Simkins School provides a safe space for diverse persons to share various opinions and ideas. I have always gravitated towards those type of environment because I am able to interact and contribute to conversations around diverse topics. What I gain from these experiences often inspire me to become a voice for the voiceless,” said Wiggins, a Columbia, SC native.
As part of the curriculum, students were required to conduct other research, attend educational field trips and participate in archival studies. Students had the opportunity to view the “Justice for All” exhibit, sponsored by the University of South Carolina. To deepen their learning, students read a set of texts and study guides as part of the lectures for each session.
To graduate Wiggins and his classmates were required to complete a practicum or a service project that would impact the community. With the help of Dr. Adams, he committed to two practicums. For the first, he began co-hosting a podcast on Historically Black Universities that covered a wide range of topics and featured many guests including HBCU students. Wiggins continues to co-host this podcast. For his second practicum, he submitted a proposal to be invited as a panelist for a conference. The research focused on the protest of African-American students at colleges, especially HBCUs, and explored why African-American students protest.
Wiggins stated, “We tend to forget about the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We study the civil rights movement and its great leaders, but we often minimize HBCUs as a training ground for these pioneers and how African-American college students contributed to the movement.”
Now that he has earned his certificate, Wiggins said this experience has motivated him to pursue a career in journalism, as the profession will allow him to use the pen to speak for others.