Charleston Tour Can't Avoid Black History

Kevin A. Thompson
August 29, 2023

(Photo: Mother Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church, site of planned slave revolt and 2015 race massacre; Charleston, South Carolina)

We’re in Charleston, South Carolina, taking a tour of Charleston’s historic district. With its many palm trees and brightly colored pre-Civil War houses, it brings the Caribbean to mind.  Not surprising, because this was once considered the West Indies, and the first English invaders to arrive  here  came from Barbados.

Our tour guide also runs a theater company, and as an actor appeared in the streaking series Ozark, where his character died on Season 2, episode 3.

Charleston has a heavy history, and our guide kept in on the light side. No mention of Charleston as the number one slave port, but we stopped at Mother Emanuel AME Church, where in 1822 Denmark Vessey planned a slave revolt, and where, our guide also stated, nine Black parishioners had been murdered in 2015 by a white supremacist. 

We saw the dockside African American museum, which opened three weeks prior. Our guide described the free Black man who was the most trusted creator of decorative iron work in Charleston, and how the Gullah-Geechee people inspired the bright colors of the houses, and grew the rice that made the colony rich. 

And despite the obvious legacy of forced labor as a basis for the wealth and beauty of the city, Black people still wine, dine and worship here, because its beauty is a heritage that enslaved African, Tuscarora, and Yamasee people created.

This was not a Black history tour, but in Charleston, it always comes back to Black people anyway. 


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