This site is intended to serve as an introduction to the African-American experience in the Charleston area. It spans from pre-Colonial times through the tragedy of the Emanuel Nine and beyond. The site is meant to inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation of the contributions of Africans and African Americans to Charleston's cultural heritage, and to acknowledge the suffering and inhumanity caused by enslavement. We are extremely grateful for the articles supplied by our contributors. This website - by design - will be an ongoing work in progress as we add more stories of hope, perseverance, and triumph.
We at Explore Charleston will not attempt to rewrite the past, nor can we. Instead, we will share our history as best as we can know it. We will tell the story in full, and not hide those parts that are ugly and painful. We will attempt to learn from the past. Our goal is to inspire ourselves and future generations to live with a true commitment to the worthy goal of equality for all people.
We hope the stories and voices shared here encourage you to visit Charleston and fully experience this rich heritage for yourself.
For more resources or to start planning your trip to Charleston, please visit Explore Charleston.
Damon L. Fordham is a native of Spartanburg, SC and a graduate of Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant, SC. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina, and an MA in History from the College of Charleston. He is the author of three books, and serves as an adjunct professor of History at The Citadel and Charleston Southern University.
Michael Boulware Moore was named the first president and CEO of the International African American Museum in February 2016. A graduate of Syracuse University, he later received his MBA from Duke University. He went on to Coca-Cola, where he managed the Coca-Cola brand in the US, and later held a number of senior roles in consumer packaged goods companies before leading a boutique strategy consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Moore returned to the private sector in August 2019 after successfully leading the effort to fund construction of the museum. Moore has deep roots in Charleston as the great-great-grandson of Robert Smalls.
Michael A. Allen graduated from South Carolina State University with a degree in history education. He began his career as a cooperative education student with the National Park Service in 1980, and served as a national park ranger, an education specialist, and community partnership specialist for Fort Sumter National Monument, Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, and Reconstruction Era National Monument. He retired in December 2017 after a 37½-year career of public service. In April 2019 he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian honor, for lifetime achievement in the preservation and interpretation of South Carolina's history.
Jonathan Green is an internationally acclaimed artist and 1982 graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His thirty-eight year track record of creating art and extensive inclusions in museum collections and exhibitions throughout many countries has led to his being considered by numerous art critics and reviewers as one of our nation’s outstanding American artists. He is recognized for capturing the positive aspects of American and African American Southern Cultures, history, and traditions.
Tracey Todd enjoys researching and writing about the Middleton family and the contributions they made in the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War eras. He coauthored Beyond the Fields: Slavery at Middleton Place and produced an award-winning PBS documentary film based on the book. He has served the Middleton Place Foundation in many capacities through his twenty-eight year tenure, most recently as COO and currently as President and CEO.
Rhoda Green, a native of Barbados, is CEO of the Barbados and the Carolinas Legacy Foundation, and serves on the board of the South Carolina Heritage Corridor. She has served as Barbados' Honorary Consul to South Carolina since 2008.
Joseph McGill, Jr. is the founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc., and was previously a field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mr. McGill is also the founder of Company “I” 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment in Charleston. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was the regiment portrayed in the award-winning movie “Glory”.
Brian Hicks is a columnist with The Post and Courier in Charleston and the author of In Darkest South Carolina: J. Waties Waring and the Secret Plot that Sparked a Civil Rights Movement. He is the author or coauthor of ten books, and his column has won three Green Eyeshade Awards for best commentary in the Southeast from the Society of Professional Journalists. He lives in Charleston.
Kevin Mitchell has been a Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston since 2008. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he also earned a masters degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi, where he focused on Southern Foodways, the preservation of Southern ingredients, and the history of African Americans in the culinary arts. In August of 2016 Chef Mitchell became a Nathalie Dupree Graduate Fellow of the Southern Foodways Alliance.
Herb Frazier is the public relations & marketing manager at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Before joining Magnolia, Frazier edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier. In 1990, the South Carolina Press Association named him Journalist of the Year. He has taught news writing as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa and is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan.