Bernard E. Powers Jr. has worked in higher education for approximately forty years. For twenty-six years he was a professor of history at the College of Charleston teaching courses in American, African American, and African diasporic history. In 2018 he became the College’s founding director for the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston. His first book, Black Charlestonians: A Social History 1822-1885, was designated an “Outstanding Academic Book” by Choice Magazine. Powers is a co-author of We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, which contextualizes the city’s racially motivated murders of 2015. He has published book chapters and journal articles and is currently researching black Methodism in South Carolina. Bernard Powers has appeared in African American oriented documentary films, including most recently the PBS production, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and Emanuel: the Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting.
Dr. Powers has served as a board member or consultant to several historic preservation organizations. He was the founding president of the Charleston Chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 2019 that organization recognized his commitment to “research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history” with the Carter Godwin Woodson Scholars Medallion.
Bernard Powers earned the Ph. D in American history at Northwestern University and has been a board member for the International African American Museum since its inception. Today he serves as its interim CEO and president.