[forthcoming] Seeing the South: Racism, Reclamation & Memory-Making in the Upstate

Union County, located in the heart of South Carolina’s “Upstate” region, appears to offer a rural haven where history, natural beauty, and southern charm intertwine. With a downtown awash in antebellum charm, and a deep southern cultural heritage that feels almost cinematic in nature, Union County shares the same profound burden carried by all of Southern American society: a past deeply divided by race and a community who has shouldered the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and institutionalized racism. Amid this idyllic rural southern community, the markers of injustice and oppression are visible in monuments and memorials, and the rhetoric of citizens and community groups. Despite this, Union County offers a sense of hope, with active local efforts towards reconciliation, resource-sharing, and cross-cultural healing.

Taking inspiration from this scenic small town and the vibrant history of Union County, this thought-provoking documentary explores the heart of the contrasts that define southern communities. Featuring myriad local voices from Union, witness the deep-rooted Lost Cause movement of this community, the struggles faced from their tumultuous past, and this community’s powerful determination to forge a better future. Through compelling storytelling and complex visuals, the film encapsulates the resilience, hopes, and aspirations of Union County's residents. Highlighting the transformative power of unity and understanding, this work paints a vivid portrait of a community striving to overcome its painful past while cherishing its rich heritage. With its enchanting landscape, historic sites, and small-town charm, Seeing the South offers a glimpse into the beauty and complexities of southern life, both past and present.


  • North Carolina State University

  • March 2024