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Citadel News Service
6 Jan 2017

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley to teach highly anticipated history course

Old South City, New South Revival Political Leadership in Charleston, South Carolina



On the one-year anniversary of the retirement of one of America’s longest serving mayors, Joseph P. Riley, Jr., begins teaching his first full course at The Citadel. The highly anticipated class, Old South City, New South Revival Political Leadership in Charleston, South Carolina, will dive into Charleston’s transformation from a sleepy coastal town into an international tourist destination, a major economic engine for the region and a center for global trade.

The course will be Riley’s first systematic and comprehensive public discussion of his years as mayor of Charleston—years in which the city was transformed from a stagnant, riley2017Southern community into a vibrant, international destination of choice. Renowned labor relations expert and history professor, Kerry Taylor, Ph.D., will also be presenting part of the course.

Riley’s first class will be held from 2:30 – 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12 in Bond Hall room 295. The course will advance The Citadel’s primary mission of developing principled leaders.

Classes will be held on Tuesday afternoons at various locations on campus and throughout the city, including Riviera Theater, City Hall and Emanuel AME church. Each class session will include remarks by Riley, guest speakers, and a discussion with 15-20 cadets as well as members of the public who will be invited to attend classes based on their areas of interest.

Course Description

Charleston’s longest serving mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr. has presided over the city’s transformation from a sleepy coastal backwater into an international tourist destination, a major economic engine for the region and a center for global trade. The city regularly ranks as a top destination for travelers. Its efforts at balancing the demands of economic growth with the needs for historic preservation are viewed as a model for urban planners and policy makers. Charleston during Mayor Riley’s tenure has additionally earned acclaim as a vital center of creative partnerships between representatives of different political parties, various levels of government and the private sector in efforts to improve the quality of life of its citizens. This course examines those claims, exploring Charleston’s development against a backdrop of government austerity and economic uncertainty, persisting racial inequality and tension and a rising tide of political conservatism.

The class spotlights the work of policymakers and practitioners, especially those who have contributed to the creation of modern Charleston. No single person made modern Charleston, but Mayor Riley’s impact has been singular. Few American cities so fully express the vision of one political leader. Riley’s leadership of this class, therefore, offers us the rare opportunity to understand the city’s development from his close-up perspective.

You should take away the following from this class: 1) knowledge of the major events and themes in Charleston’s recent history; 2) an understanding of the major issues facing urban America since the 1960s; 3) insight into the leadership strategies used by municipal leaders to meet the challenges of democratic governance in modern America.


The Mayor: Joe Riley and the Rise of Charleston by Brian Hicks (2015)
Charleston in Black and White by Steve Estes (2015)
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961)
Crisis Ministries, article from The Post and Courier


Jan. 12 – Charleston, South Carolina, USA, 1975
Jan. 19 – In Black and White
Jan. 26 – Creating a Safe City
Feb. 2 – Charleston Place and Economic Revitalization
Feb. 9 – TBA
Feb. 16 – The Mayor’s Institute and the Remaking of the American City
Feb. 23 – Spoleto and Charleston’s Second Cultural Renaissance
March 2 – Moving Boundaries
March 9 – Ruin and Recovery—Hugo Remakes the Lowcountry
March 16 – City Beautiful
March 23 – House and Home
March 30 – Spring Break
April 6 – Confronting the Southern Past: The Making of the International African American Museum
April 13 – The Emanuel Massacre and Post-Racial America
April 20 – Joe Riley’s Charleston—Retrospective on Leadership and the Making of a Great American City
April 25 – A Lifetime of Service

Please contact Christina Sizemore for additional questions.

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