Browse an ever-evolving collection of articles, accounts, videos, and more that explore Charleston’s Black history through a variety of lenses.

Social, Economic, & Political Leadership

The Judge Who Sparked a Civil Rights Movement

As a federal judge, Waring understood that it was his job to protect the rights of all citizens. He soon discovered not everyone shared his colorblind interpretation of the law.

Enslavement & Human Bondage

The Slave Dwelling Project

Now that I have the attention of the public by sleeping in extant slave dwellings, it is time to wake up and deliver the message that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American history.

Religion & Spirituality

Esau and Janie B. Jenkins: A Lifetime of Service to Others

Esau and Janie B. Jenkins left a legacy of faith, courage, and love of family and community.

Civil Rights

The Charleston Race Riot of 1919

The Charleston Race Riot of 1919 showed black resistance to the racial violence of that time and provided the local civil rights movement with some of its first small victories.

Social, Economic, & Political Leadership

The Legacy of Dr. Lucy Hughes Brown

Dr. Lucy Hughes Brown (1863-1911) was the first African-American woman doctor licensed in the states of North and South Carolina.

Enslavement & Human Bondage

The Accidental Historian

With the outlawing of importing enslaved Africans in 1808, the sale and brokering of domestic enslaved Africans emerged to feed the growing demand for labor fueling the region’s powerful economic engine.

African & Gullah Roots

Freedom’s Eve: Celebrating a Gullah Geechee Tradition

We look forward to celebrating Freedom’s Eve with you just as our ancestors did on New Year’s Eve 1862. When a day that they had long dreamed of was about to dawn and they came together to pray, give watch and bear witness to the coming of midnight and freedom.

Social, Economic, & Political Leadership

Breaking Barriers

In 1982, Mt. Pleasant resident Travis Ascue competed as the first African American athlete in the South Carolina Independent School Athletic Association.

Resistance & Quests for Freedom

The Incredible Life of Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort, but first made history in Charleston! Arriving in 1851, at age 12, to work and have his wages sent back to his master, Smalls was attracted to the water; coming to work on a 147 foot side wheel steamer boat called the Planter - first as a laborer but quickly moving to become its pilot.

African & Gullah Roots

Hidden in Plain Sight

The National Park Service was at the forefront of support for the creation of a National Heritage Area. Through U.S. Rep. James Clyburn’s leadership and tireless efforts, the creation of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor occurred in October 2006.

Charleston’s Built Environment

Philip Simmons: Iron Working Legend

A Charleston resident since 1919, he attended local schools but received his most important education from local blacksmith Peter Simmons (no relation), who ran a busy shop at the foot of Calhoun Street. Here Philip Simmons acquired the values and refined the talents that would sustain him throughout his long metalworking career. Pieces of his work have been acquired by the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution.

Enslavement & Human Bondage

What's In a Name? Everything.

Shakespeare’s Juliet believed that Romeo’s name was less important than his beliefs and values. While perhaps most of us would agree, names do provide valuable identity and, historically, names are essential to remembering individual people. Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People that someone’s name is their most important possession. There is no more powerful way to connect with people than by simply remembering names. At historic sites associated with slavery it has become a best practice to use the names of the enslaved people and speak about them as individuals.

Culinary Impact

Gullah Foodways & Traditions

The Africans brought to the Carolina Colony used the similarities between the culinary environments of the Lowcountry and the African West Coast. Consequently, their cuisine is characterized by the consistent use of rice. Vegetables such as yams, peas and beans were introduced to the New World and then cultivated by slaves.

Cultural Impact

The Barbados Connection

A plantation society evolved under the control and oversight of a ruling class. The system was called the "Barbados Model” by a contemporary historian. The model was used by other British plantation societies. The Barbados Slave Codes designed to work within the Barbados Model functioned to effect control and subjugation upon enslaved people.

Cultural Impact

Living Canvas

This once-raw land along the Ashley River is a living canvas. On that wilderness the enslaved used crude tools to build dikes bordering a wildlife-laden swamp. They dug black-water ponds reflecting Magnolia’s color. They planted today’s mature azaleas, tall camellias, and aged oaks that arch over the entrance. Many of them are unknown.

Cultural Impact

Respect for Heritage

Every time I approach the canvas to express my respect for my heritage and culture I strive to capture the magnificent legacy my ancestors left me and my family despite their enslavement, oppression, and horrific challenges they faced on a daily basis even after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.


This site is meant as an introduction to the African and African American experience in the Charleston,SC area. We want this website to continue growing with new stories and articles submitted by Charleston-area contributors. We are especially interested in sharing stories written by people who have a personal connection to the topic (descendant or family member, subject matter expert, eyewitness to events, etc.). If you are interested in contributing, please email [email protected] to learn more.

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