- Annual Report of the Secretary-Treasurer
last year's meeting marked the association's first-ever excursion to St. Pete Beach and a return to Florida after more than twenty years. (Florida has hosted the association on five prior occasions: Orlando, 1993; Hollywood-by-the Sea, 1972; Miami Beach, 1962; and Jacksonville, 1956 and 1953.)
The Local Arrangements Committee, chaired by Ray Arsenault, did a superlative job raising funds for a fantastic opening reception (accompanied by a jazz trio) and put together an extensive list of tours that included downtown museums, Fort De Soto, Tarpon Springs, the Florida Botanical Gardens, and Ybor City.
The program also had a Florida flavor, thanks to the Program Committee and its chairs, Jim Downs and Sandra G. Treadway, who brought us papers focusing on Everglades National Park, slave smuggling in Spanish Florida, race and sports at Florida A&M University, black suburbanization in Tampa Bay, and a host of other topics. The program as a whole was rich and diverse, anchored by the opening and final plenaries, on "Southern History, Looking Backward" and "Southern History, Looking Forward," respectively, and accented by the new "Southern History in the Headlines" format as well as by Catherine Clinton's fearless presidential address.
Attendance, at 1,031, was mildly down from the previous two years. Ironically, our bookings at the hotel itself were up, probably because of folks extending their stays or coming with their families and thus reducing room-sharing. To the secretary-treasurer, this metric matters a great deal, as our bookings are key to our ability to negotiate lower room rates.
Speaking of negotiating: The Association is pleased to announce that it has contracted with INMEX, an organization specializing in socially responsible event planning, to help us navigate the increasingly complex world of hotel contracts. A nonprofit whose reasonable fee is paid by [End Page 387] the hotel and not the Association, INMEX is committed to helping organizations ensure that their purchasing power is deployed in ways consistent with their ethical commitments—in the SHA's case, the commitment to inclusion. This commitment, recently redrafted by the Committee on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, has been posted to our website and is worth repeating here: "The Southern Historical Association aims to be an inclusive organization. It strives to treat all of its members with dignity and respect and to provide a community that is free from discrimination whether based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, or any other status or classification protected by federal, state or local law."
When, on January 27, 2017, the White House issued an executive order deeply at odds with this commitment, the SHA Executive Council officially adopted the following statement: "The Southern Historical Association condemns President Donald J. Trump's January 27 executive order. While shamefully closing our borders to refugees, in a chilling reprise of the exclusion of Jews seeking asylum from Nazi persecution, the order also strikes at our students and colleagues engaged in lawful activities that are fundamental to our work as historians: teaching, study, and research. As persons who hail from, live in, or write about the South, we particularly deplore anything that smacks of persecution by reason of ancestry or religion. We think it apropos, at the start of Black History Month, to echo Frederick Douglass's vow that he 'would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.'"
The Executive Council last met formally on Wednesday, November 2, 2016, in St. Pete Beach, where we welcomed aboard our newest Council members, William A. Link, University of Florida; Valinda W. Littlefield, University of South Carolina; and Melissa Walker, Converse College. Joel Dark of Tennessee State University and Matt D. Childs of the University of South Carolina continued in their final year as representatives of the European and Latin American and Caribbean sections, respectively, and their good advice and great humor over the years have been much appreciated.
The Council had a long agenda; topics of note included (1) the formation of the new Graduate Student Council, which will oversee the Graduate Student Luncheon at the annual meeting...