Lowcountry Living, Student Life

Black History Month in Charleston

By Marissa Thompson | February 15, 2023

Living in the South, especially in South Carolina, which was the first state to secede from the union during the Civil War, we have an interesting perspective on Black history all-around us and living through us. While one would be hard-pressed to find a place in the Carolinas that doesn’t have some piece of Black history embedded in its soil, Charleston has its own unique Black stories to be told. During Black history month, we can lift up those stories and those voices and learn more about them. Here are some of the ways Buccaneers can engage with Black history month this year.

First and foremost, there are plenty of free options for Bucs who want to learn something new without breaking the bank. Few know about the handprints you can find along Philadelphia Alley in Charleston’s French Quarter. Slave plantations were major producers of the bricks used for this alley, which left several bricks with the imprints of hands and fingers of enslaved black people from all the way back in 1776. Walking these bricks and stones can be a major reminder of how the past stays with us. We build upon our history, and these physical reminders that this history involved real people can be emotional, moving and enriching. To start your search, head to 22 Queen Street.

Pieces of Gullah and Geechee history are in rich supply around these parts. If you go to the Charleston City Market on Meeting Street, you will find pieces of tradition that have made their way through history. Even if you don’t buy anything, seeing the traditional art form of authentic sweetgrass baskets, as well as other culturally significant artisan goods, can be interesting and insightful. They also serve as an homage to the culture slaves brought with them when they came from Africa and how that culture persisted in spite of every attempt to stamp it out.

Those with student IDs and $15 to spend (or without student IDs and between $29 and $32 to spend) may find a trip to the Middleton Place National Historic Landmark at 4300 Ashley River Road to be a worthy contender for how to spend their time. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with several guided tours and programs included in general admission, Middleton Place was founded in 1675 and holds a great deal of history to share regarding the enslaved African Americans who were forced to take up residence within its walls. There are additional paid add-ons that can further enrich this experience. Ultimately, this is a great option for those who want to take a look at multiple angles and perspectives of history and of Black stories. 

One final highlight to look forward to is the International African American Museum at 14 Wharfside Street, opening sometime in 2023. The museum will tell Black history in the form of a journey, all the way from Africa to Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston and right into the present. Their focus is on bringing history to life in a variety of ways. They promise untold stories and the use of technology to facilitate interactivity between guests and the materials. Attractions include the Center for Family History, which promises guests the opportunity to trace their lineage, as well as the African Ancestors Memorial Garden on the ground level of the building. Those who are interested in further information may visit the museum’s website

Happy Black History Month, Buccaneers.

Marissa Thompson is a senior communication major and was a fall 2022 intern with the Office of Marketing & Communication.

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