Call My Name In the News

ClemsonNews, February 18, 2022
Rhondda Thomas named recipient of the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence

In the fall of 2022, Dr. Thomas received the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence, the university’s highest award for faculty. Click the link below to learn more about the award and the reasons Dr. Thomas’s colleagues selected her for this honor, including her work with Call My Name. Image courtesy of ClemsonNews.

ClemsonNews, July 27, 2022
Rhondda Thomas to receive South Carolina Humanities award

SC SC Humanities recently introduced the Fresh Voices in the Humanities Awards as a way to recognize innovative individuals who use culture and history to bring people together, but whose efforts may have gone relatively unnoticed beyond their own community. One of the 2022 recipients of the Fresh Voices in the Humanities Awards is Dr. Rhondda R. Thomas, Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University who contributed significant research on the history of African Americans at Clemson.

ClemsonNews, February 18, 2021
Thomas explores marginalized African American lives in ‘Call My Name, Clemson'

In February 2021, Dr. Rhondda Thomas gave an interview via Zoom with ClemsonNews wherein she discussed her book, Call My Name, Clemson, published in November 2020. Click the link above to access a copy of an edited transcript of the interview. Dr. Thomas discusses the beginning of the Call My Name project, the call-and-response format of the book, several of the particular stories included in the book, and the involvement of Clemson students in the project.

ClemsonNews, September 9, 2020
Thomas earns major NEH grant for exhibition about African American history in and around Clemson

This article covers the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) award Dr. Rhondda Thomas and Dr. Lee Morrissey received to support the touring exhibit, “Call My Name: The Black Experience in the South Carolina Upstate from Enslavement to Desegregation.” It describes the touring exhibit generally, including the project’s scope and the breadth of materials that the organizers hope to incorporate. Click here for information on the touring exhibit.

Charleston Post & Courier, December 24, 2019
‘Call My Name’: Clemson University professor seeks to credit black laborers on campus,

This article details the approach and scope of the Call My Name project, outlining the experiences that inspired Dr. Thomas to begin the project and discussing what else she has uncovered along the way. The article also broadens the conversation regarding universities’ reckoning with racist pasts, discussing actions taken by other schools to redress their pasts retrospectively. 



Clemson World, fall 2019
The Power of Calling a Name

Image by Craig Mahaffey, Clemson University Class of ’98.

This feature article gives Dr. Thomas’s story and experience of beginning Call My Name in her own words, including a sketch of her biography and what brought her to Clemson. Dr. Thomas outlines the project, describing some of the factors that began her journey of uncovering Clemson’s past, as well as her experiences of discovering the names of people and their stories within many records. Several pictures and dates are embedded within the article that provide a timeline of the events and documents that Call My Name currently studies.



ClemsonNews, March 4, 2019
Two English professors receive National Endowment for the Humanities awards

This article reports on Dr. Rhondda Thomas and Dr. Michael LeMahieu receiving a NEH grants in 2019. Dr. LeMahieu’s award supports his book project that explores the legacy of the Civil War in South Carolina through the responses of writers in the aftermath of the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education. Dr. Thomas was given a grant in support of a two-day “Documenting Your Roots” event in February 2020, a community outreach initiative that offered free digitization services to members of the local Black communities who sought to preserve their own family and community history. 



Independent Mail, January 2, 2017
Project Seeks to Reclaim Clemson History

This article describes the process of digging through the state archives and Clemson University’s digital archives to develop Call My Name’s source material. In addition, Dr. Thomas provides some background information about the first stories the project recovered, like Wade Foster, a convicted laborer from Spartanburg, South Carolina, who was assigned to the Clemson College workforce. The article functions as a retrospective of the project after over a decade of research, a brief exploration of the process behind uncovering the source material, and a celebration of the work accomplished and the grants that have made it possible.



Chronicle of Higher Education, April 29, 2016
How Colleges Are Turning Their Racist Pasts Into Teaching Opportunities

Multiple short perspectives from scholars at several universities across the country, including Clemson University, University of Virginia, and the College of William & Mary are featured in this article. These short perspectives offer insight into the ways in which college boards and administrations grapple with racist legacies left on campus in monuments and buildings named for problematic individuals, in addition to touching on the work that is being done by faculty and students to help address those legacies and their portrayal.



Chronicle of Higher Education, June 21, 2016
Historians of Slavery Find Fruitful Terrain: Their Own Institutions

Corinne Ruff explores the labor of professors at higher education institutions across the country who are working to uncover and reckon with their university’s history. Beginning with Brown University’s exploration and attempts at explaining its own ties to the Atlantic slave trade in the early 2000s, several professors along the eastern seaboard – including Dr. Thomas at Clemson – have begun exploring the ties between their respective institutions and the marginalized communities that helped establish them. When it comes to Call My Name, the article focuses particularly on the convict laborers and uncovering their lives and experiences; however, it also serves as a good introduction to the work being done at other schools, each of which has its own unique history with which it must reckon.

Greenville News, April 17, 2014
Research Honors Lives of Convicts who Built Clemson

This article introduced Wade Foster and Clemson’s extensive use of convict leasing to built the school as a way of segueing into a more in-depth discussion of race and history on Clemson’s campus. Dr. Thomas describes her experience of research in the SC state archives to discover more about the convict laborers, particularly Foster, the 13-year-old boy who served on a convict labor crew for months. Dr. Thomas argues for an effort led by both the university and the surrounding communities to uncover and deal with the implications and consequences of this history. Many threads throughout Call My Name’s record tend to complicate our understanding of certain figures such as Benjamin Tillman, and understanding the full breadth of history behind Clemson’s founding would actually enhance the university’s image, not damage it.



Greenville News, March 29, 2015
Clemson's Past Hides in Plain Sight

Image by Heidi Heilbrunn/Staff Greenville News

This piece explores more of Clemson’s hidden past by again looking at Call My Name’s progression through the years. Dr. Thomas explains the full scope of the project, spanning from the lives of those enslaved on the Fort Hill Plantation to the first Black students who attended the University in the 1960s. In particular, the article also focuses on the so-called “Negro houses” (or “Negro cabins”) that existed near Death Valley, Clemson’s football stadium. The article uses this illustration as a particularly poignant way of drawing attention to Clemson’s history by way of an aspect of the university’s culture that remains one of its most recognizable features: football. Using the history of the land where the football stadium now stands, a broader discussion about Clemson’s past can occur through understanding the lived experience of Black laborers who inhabited it.