Center for Creative Partnerships has developed significant projects including the first GullahStudies Institute on St. Helena Island at Penn Center; Civil Rights/Social Justice Workshops; and many others. The organization has developed Strategic Plans for Penn Center, Jackson, MS, and Charlottesville, VA. CCP President has curated important exhibitions including Partnership in Social Justice; James Brown: Preserving the Legacy; Journey from Africa to Gullah; Africa Revisited: The Art of Power and Identity.
Center for Creative Partnerships encourages communities and organizations to work with us to develop projects which will have a positive impact on your community and/or institution - and we help to raise the necessary funds.
These and other unique projects are available for your community and /or organization.
For information contact Center for Creative Partnerships at
Social Justice Film Series
Community Discussions with Filmakers, Humanities Scholars,
Civil Rights Heroes
With David Dennis
Civil Rights hero and organizer of Freedom Summer.
With Rose Leiman Goldemberg
Award winning screen writer of The Burning Bed.
With John Wittington Franklin
Historian, Curator, son of John Hope Franklin
Center for Creative Partnerships, in collaboration with Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, is committed to producing the series which was scheduled for Spring 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus. According to OCtech President, Dr. Walt Tobin, "The goal of the film series is to engage and empower young people and the community to advocate for educational, economic, political and social equality.” The first film in the series was held on March 5, just prior to stay at home decisions. The series, funded by the SC Humanities and SC AARP, is scheduled to be produced in Spring 2021.
This Social Justice Cinema series, dedicated to historian and social justice advocate, John Hope Franklin, will present screenings at OCTech’s Roquemore Auditorium. This Social Justice Cinema Project continues the ongoing humanities centered relationship between Orangeburg/ Calhoun Technical College, the community and the Center for Creative Partnerships.
The Social Justice Cinema Project presents programs for diverse audiences which encourage critical thinking and challenge beliefs and attitudes, promoting the awareness of the importance of the humanities in daily life. It engages and empowers young people and the community to advocate for education and economic and political equality. The Center for Creative Partnerships collaborates with filmmakers, civil rights activists, and cultural organizations to bring awareness to social justice issues. Following the viewing of each film, a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers, civil rights activists and humanities scholars provides the opportunity for sharing ideas and analyzing values; and providing thought provoking conversations around civil rights and social justice issues. The series are free and open to the public.
I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, South Carolina State University
Penn Center, St. Helena Island, South Carolina
Avery Center, Charleston, South Carolina
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, Orangeburg, South Carolina, 2017, 2020
South Carolina Humanities, 2011, 2017, 2020
South Carolina AARP, 2020
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, 2017, 2020
South Carolina State University
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Gilda Lehrman Institute of American History
Harriet Tubman Monument
Tabernacle Baptist Church of Beaufort, SC has launched a campaign to honor Harriet Tubman with a monument for her services in Beaufort during the Civil War and for her role in a raid that freed hundreds of slaves in 1863. A sculpture depicting Harriet Tubman’s heroic ventures will sit next to the 153 year old church on Craven Street in downtown Beaufort. Tabernacle Baptist is also the burial place of Robert Smalls, who was born a slave in Beaufort and became a Civil War hero and Congressman. A bust of Small is also on the church grounds.
The architect for the statue is renowned sculptor Ed Dwight, designer of the African American History Monument at the state capitol in Columbia.
Center for Creative Partnerships is collaborating with Board Member, Rev. Kenneth Hodges, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, on this significant project.
Harriet Tubman Monument Giving Levels:
The Port Royal Sound Circle $1 to $499
The Coosaw River Circle $500 to $999
Saint Helena Sound Circle $1,000 to $4,999
The Beaufort River Circle $5,000 to $9,999
The Combahee River Circle $10,000 and above
Contributions of $1,000 and above the names of the contributors will be placed at or on the back of monument. All other contributors’ names will be listed in the dedication book.
Partnership in Social Justice:
Jewish and Black Communities in Civil Rights,Then and Now
Rabbi Heschel, Martin Luther King, Jr.&Ralph Abernathy
According to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a 1965 interview with Alex Haley, published in Playboy Magazine:
“How can there be anti-Semitism among Negroes when our Jewish friends have demonstrated their commitment to the principle of tolerance and brotherhood not only in the form of sizeable contributions, but in many tangible ways, and often at great personal sacrifice? …
And can we ever forget the sacrifice of two Jewish lives, Andrew Goodman and
Michael Schwerner, in Mississippi? It would be impossible to record the contributions that the Jewish people have made toward the Negro’s struggle for freedom – it has been that great.”
Congressman John Lewis stated: "I stand here not so much as a member of Congress but I stand here as a human being. Almost 25 years ago I participated in a march here for jobs and freedom. Hundreds and thousands of members of the Jewish community marched with us then. I think it’s fitting for me to be with you today."
Both the Jewish and African American communities in the United States have strong cultural backgrounds, an understanding of the importance of social justice and a history of prejudice, discrimination and extreme suffering. There is a natural affinity between the two ethnicities that should be encouraged and understood by past, present and future generations. Today, the United States and the world are facing desperate times in which hatred determines thoughts and actions. Only together can there be real progress toward justice and only through an understanding of history and education can this partnership move the country into a positive future.
Partnership in Social Justice will be designed to celebrate the historic relationship between Blacks and Jews in civil rights and social justice. Knowledge of the significance and commonality of the Jewish and Black communities can move people to work together to make a positive difference and create a just society for all people.
Using the Arts to Uproot Racism from the Community
Social Justice Educational Arts Project that worked with a diverse group of Middle and High School students to utilize the arts to combat racism in the community of Beaufort, South Carolina. The project included visual art with Arianne King Comer and theatre with Gullah Kinfolk Traveling Theatre. Two murals were created - Unity, at entry point to the city on the wall of the downtown Piggly Wiggly and The Tree of Life on the side of the Community Center. The Unity Mural which depicts the children’s slogan, "Beaufort County where culture, art and I make a difference", continues to remind the community of the Unity of all people. The project began and ended with a survey from the Anti-Defamation League and included a diversity workshop provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The young people learned about the importance of justice, enjoyed the program, made friends across diversity, came every Saturday. The final survey and discussions showed the great impact of the program on the understanding of equality.
The situation now in Beaufort and around the country points to the need to reproduce this project in many communities.
Partner: Alternate Roots with funding from the FORD Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation
Location: Beaufort, South Carolina
Visual Artist: Arianne King Comer
Theatre Artists: Anita Singleton Prather, Scott Gibbs (Gullah Traveling Theatre)
Workshops and assistance provided by Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance and Anti-Defamation League
A Journey From Africa to Gullah Exhibition
with H.E. Bokari Kortu Stevens, Ambassador to the U.S. from Sierra Leone
Lorenzo Dow Turner: Linguist
H.E. Bockari Kortu Stevens, Ambassador
from Sierra Leone with Ellen Zisholtz,
Quenton Atterberry, Ashley Burke, Eric Smith
Although this exhibition is important to the entire country and the international community, especially Africa, it imparts an appreciation of the importance, significance and richness of the Gullah culture, and provides an understanding of the direct ties between Western Africa, South Carolina and the Gullah/Geechee Corridor. It further interprets the origins of Civil Rights/Social Justice thought through Gullah culture, Robert Smalls, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. it is important in understanding the current crises facing the country.
Part One – Connection to West Africa
African Art and the relationship to Bunce Island in Sierra Leone
Part Two - Gullah as a unique language
Focusing on the work of linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner and historian Joseph Opala
Part Three – Gullah Art and Artifacts and the Connection to West Africa
Focusing on the direct cultural ties between West Africa and the Gullah-Geechie Corridor
Part Four – Reconstruction and Social Justice
The importance of both Reconstruction and Civil Rights to the Gullah experience, including Robert Smalls, Harriet Tubman.
Importance of Gullah Community to USA
Social Justice and Civil Rights Issues/Discussions/Symposium/Exhibition/ History, Art/Community Discussions with Guests
African and Gullah Art Sale
I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, South Carolina State University, Journey from Africa to Gullah I ,2008; II 2012
Individual Creative Partners and Participants:
Ellen Zisholtz, CCP President, Curator | Millicent Brown, Curator | Joseph Opala, Historian | HE Bokari Stevens, Former Ambassador from Sierra Leone to U.S. l Anita Singleton Prather, Gullah Traveling Theater | Emory Campbell, Gullah-Geechee Corridor | Davion Petty, Exhibition Installation | Amadu Massally, Sierra Leone l Thomalind Polite
James E. and Emily E. Clyburn Endowment for Archives and History
The Embassy of Sierra Leone
Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, DC
ASE'- Gullah Education LLC
South Carolina State University
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Journey From Africa to Gullah:
Exhibition and Community Programs
Decoding the Stars:
Spirituals and the Underground Railroad
Guests viewing planetarium show
Ellen Zisholtz & Creative Partners at the Copernicus Center in Warsaw, Poland
Decoding the Stars
Decoding the Stars: the Sprituals and the Underground Railroad was an integral part of the exhibition, Journey From Africa to Gullah, curated by Ellen Zisholtz, which explored the Gullah culture and its African origins and integrated the planetarium show with the exhibition. It has been selected internationally because it is a unique example of combining the humanities basis of an exhibition with science curricula, and has significance in future learning opportunities for “non astronomy education under the planetarium dome.”
The presentation, Decoding the Stars: Spirituals and the Underground Railroad, details how coded language was used in American Civil War-era spirituals to guide escaped enslaved persons to freedom. The most famous example of these, also called map songs, is Follow the Drinking Gourd – drinking gourd being a symbol or code for the Big Dipper. Two stars on the bowl of the Big Dipper always point to the North Star, Polaris. Those running could always see the way North. Harriet Tubman's favorite was Swing Low Sweet Chariot, announcing that she was coming to lead people to freedom. Spirituals are sung throughout the presentation.
The presentation was first developed by Ms. Zisholtz and Dr. Elizabeth Mayo Charlton, astronomer, at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium at SC State University, which was, at the time, the only museum with a planetarium in any Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and one of the few in the United States. The Planetarium worked in collaboration with the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, developing astronomy presentations. The Stanback received national recognition and enhanced the impact of the Stanback Museum and Planetarium on the University and the larger community through the integrating of museum exhibitions and planetarium content, expanding into various academic curricula.
I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, South Carolina State University in conjunction with Hubble Space Telescope Exhibition,
Sponsored by NASA, 2008
MUSE Children's Museum and Planetarium, Knoxville, Tennessee, 2016
International Planetarium Society, Copernicus Center, Warsaw, Poland, 2016
International Gullah Geechee and African Diaspora Conference; Joyner Institute; Coastal Carolina University, 2019
I Refuse 2
Even in the Darkest
Artist Painting Social Justice Mural
Unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson in 2014. A grand jury did not indict Wilson. In March, Obama's Justice Department issued an investigative report concluding that "there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat."
The same day, the Justice Department published the results of an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, which highlighted systemic exploitation and racial profiling of black residents in Ferguson, such as racial disparities in traffic stops even though black drivers were less likely to be found with contraband.
Washington Post, Aug. 13, 2019
Michael Brown's murder forever changed Ferguson and America. HIs tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris, Aug. 9, 2019
5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet was shot 6 times.
I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront racism and police violence head on.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Aug. 9, 2019
The community responded to the shooting and subsequent lack of consequences for the police officer by protesting in Ferguson, which led to the breaking of downtown windows and destruction. The community painted murals of hope and peace on the boarded up windows. The murals were later removed and sold.
Ellen Zisholtz visited Ferguson in 2014 and photographed the murals.
These photographs are available for exhibition and community discussion.
I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, South Carolina State University
Meridian Museum of Art, Mississippi, 2015
Theatre Production and Event Planning
Letters Home by Rose Leiman Goldemberg
Kathleen Chalfant starring as
Aurelia and Sylvia Plath
Rachel Botchan starring as
Playwright/Screen Writer Rose Leiman Goldemberg was honored by induction into the Billy Rose Collection at Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts. The archiving of Ms. Goldemberg’s body of work, marking an extraordinary career in theater and film, was celebrated with a collaboration between Center for Creative Partnerships and Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts. The centerpiece of the event, in the Bruno Walter Theatre, was a reading of Letters Home, based on the correspondence between poet Sylvia Plath and her mother. Kathleen Chalfant, Tony award winning actress, starred as Aurelia Plath, with Rachel Bochan as Sylvia.
Letters Home is unique. The words to the play are all from Aurelia Plath’s book, Letters Home, and are the actual words of Sylvia Plath and her mother. After its premiere at the Women’s Project at the American Place Theatre, the play went to London and Paris, and then around the world, performed in several languages, and honored everywhere. Plath is widely considered one of the finest writers of the 20th Century. Her work, the tragic circumstances of her early death and the relationship between mother and daughter are very relevant today!
It is interesting to note that Letters Home was created in New York City at the Women’s Project at the American Place Theater in the late1970s--when this was one of the few places for women artists to work. Ms. Goldemberg, Ms. Chalfant and Ellen Zisholtz, were all working there at the time.
Location: Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts/ Bruno Walter Theatre
New York, New York, 2017
Letters Home, written by Rose Leiman Goldemberg
Starring Kathleen Chalfant as Aurelia Plath and Rachel Botchan as Sylvia Plath
Produced by Ellen Zisholtz, Center for Creative Partnerships
Mentoring and Teaching
Social Justice Education and Young People
DC Host Committee for Dedication of MLK Memorial with D'Artagnan Yarborough, Chief Engineer on Memorial
Visiting with Congressman John Lewis
Ellen Zisholtz has mentored and taught students in her 10 years as Assistant Professor in Visual and Performing Arts, as Director of the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium at South Carolina State University and in her work at New York and Rutgers Universities. The unique programs: trips to historic and cultural sites, workshops at museums in Art with a Conscience, exhibition design and hanging and social justice symposiums with civil rights heroes. Her students were the first to present at the national conference of the Association of African American Museums, where she was recently recognized for a Leadership Award for accomplishments with students. Her students have been on the DC Host Committee for the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer in Mississippi.
They created films of their experiences Stanback Freedom Ride, Stanback in Search of Social Justice and around the James Brown exhibitions and concerts at the Stanback.
Testimonials from South Carolina State University
Your phenomenal work at South Carolina State University in transforming the Museum into one of the leading facilities in the South is a testament to your hard work and immense knowledge of museums. I was particularly impressed and pleased that you involved students in meaningful ways in the museum operations. Continue to advance the profession and perform the exceptional work that you do. Preserving and conveying our history and culture through museums enhances our knowledge base and ensures that future generations have an appreciation for our culture and history.
Andrew Hugine, Jr., President 2003-2007; Currently President, Alabama A&M University
Ellen's work in art, history and culture during her tenure at SCSU has proven to make an extraordinary difference for members of the university community overall. Through her commitment and lifelong work in social justice, she has achieved great success in transforming lives and making a positive difference for many who benefitted from participating in activities and grant programs that she facilitated. Many of Ellen's students assert that their involvement with her programs have empowered and enabled them to enhance the quality of their lives and the lives of others as well. Further, they attribute their experiences and association with Ellen to realizing their potential in becoming contributing and responsible as well as socially and culturally aware members of society. Ellen's work continues to affect positive change and improve lives.
Leonard McIntyre, Interim President 2007-2008
Historically Black Colleges(HBCU’S) have a pressing responsibility to train future leaders of our communities and society. The greatest challenge of this responsibility is the conveying of the principles of truth, power and wisdom. Under Ellen Zisholtz’s leadership the Stanback Museum endeavored to provide students with knowledge (truth), understanding (wisdom), and a pathway for expression (power) with a greater cultural awareness of African and African American history through various art forms and a pathway and opportunity for expression relative of that awareness. She is to be commended for providing excellent programs, forums, and networking opportunities that continue to influence and transform the lives of numerous students, alumni, and the community.
Thomas J. Elzey, President, 2013-2115
My internship at the IP Stanback Museum & Planetarium has been one of the best experiences of my life.We visited the James Brown estate, helped organize his clothes, and discovered the man behind the legend. We visited Montgomery, Selma, Jackson, and recreated the routes of the Freedom Riders, speaking with with local residents who witnessed history. We recorded a YouTube video, and presented professional presentations at AAAM about their experiences. To say that Ellen transformed our lives is no exaggeration. She instilled confidence, hope, and even fun. She showed us that the possibilities of having an enriched life are indeed within our grasp. She showed us that we had the power to rise above circumstances, and that we could and would succeed.
My internship at the IP Stanback Museum and Planetarium helped me connect with history in a highly visual and tangible way. The most important lesson I learned is that everyone is my neighbor — everyone in the world. This was made clear by a speaker at the opening ceremony for Beyond the Swastika and Jim Crow, which highlighted how Jewish refugees worked with African American leaders during the civil rights movement. This is extremely telling given the refugee crisis we face now as it shows the value of those who came to this country and how, if welcomed, they can make a major contribution.This program also allowed me to recognize racism and fascism in political speak, something that is sorely lacking in America.
Being a part of the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium reshaped my understanding of who I was as an African American young man in this country. My experience there was the foundation and the catalyst for how I viewed myself, my people, and the world as my true African self. It birthed an understanding within me that the narrative of my people was one to be honored and revered. I found my place in the world and understood that I am the manifestation of my ancestors hopes, dreams, and prayers. Because of this experience, it set me on a course to earn my master of divinity in theology at an HBCU from an African perspective, begin my PhD in African American studies, become a reverend, and run for Atlanta City Council so that I can further assist my people to become the great being that they are. We are the roses they grew from the concrete, the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium helped me to realize that.
Exploring South Carolina State Museum