Above: ‘Washington Post’ journalist Kathleen Parker delivers a commencement address to the Class of 2020.
The College of Charleston recently hosted a national panel discussion that focused on the fate of monuments and memorials that honor figures of the Confederacy and slave owners.
Moderated by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, “Civil Discourse on Monuments and Memory” featured four panel members, including Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart; political commentator Michelle Bernard; RealClearPolitics Washington bureau chief Carl M. Cannon; and Charleston attorney and historian Robert N. Rosen.
College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu says the idea for the panel came after a conversation he had with Parker before she delivered a commencement speech at the College in the fall of 2020.
“Before the ceremony, she and I were talking about current events and the lack of civil discourse, generally, in our society,” says Hsu. “We both agreed that civil discourse should be a bedrock principle of our American democracy and that universities need to be both the training ground and the arena for these discussions.”
The panel discussion was recorded in April 2021 and focused on the national conversation concerning Confederate and Jim Crow–era names and monuments that are still prominent across the country and the calls to remove them from public spaces.
Parker was a commencement speaker for one of the College of Charleston’s ceremonies celebrating the Class of 2020. Because of COVID-19, the May 2020 graduates had their commencement ceremonies postponed until October of last year.
The October commencement was not Parker’s first visit to campus. Her youngest son, John Cleveland, graduated from the College in 2007.