Address: 701 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC, USA
In 1945, a group of union workers, the majority of whom were Black women, walked off their jobs at the American Tobacco Company Cigar Factory and launched a strike that lasted five months. The strike was a response to low wages, poor working conditions, and racially discriminatory employment practices. The Cigar Factory was one of Charleston’s largest employers, and while most strikers were African American women, some black and white men and women also participated.
Address: Charleston, SC, USA
Born in 1811 to free black parents, Daniel Alexander Payne would become a Bishop in the AME Church, President of Wilberforce University, abolitionist, educator, and historian. After early schooling, Payne went to work at age 12 with a shoe-merchant, as a carpenter at 13, and then a tailor, finally entering the teaching profession and opening a school for black children in 1829, at age 19. In 1835, South Carolina passed bill 2639: An Act to Amend the Law relating to Slaves and Free Persons of Color, which forced him to close his school.
Address: 56 Bull Street, Charleston, SC, USA
In 1822, Denmark Vesey and other leaders of the AME church began plotting a rebellion to achieve liberation for the enslaved in Charleston. He envisioned the rebellion spreading to other cities and ultimately freeing all enslaved people. Vesey set the date for revolt on July 14; men from Charleston and surrounding plantations planned to seize Charleston's arsenals and set fire to the city. But in June several slaves leaked details of the plot to their masters, and authorities began arresting the leaders. Vesey was captured and he and his co-conspirators were brought to trial. On July 2nd, Vesey and five other men were hanged. Vesey is believed to have established a carpentry business and residence at this Bull Street house prior to the rebellion.
Address: 110 Calhoun St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Often called “Mother Emanuel,” this iconic house of worship is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in the Southern U.S. and an important historic site. In 1822, Mother Emanuel was burned for its association with Denmark Vesey, a former slave who tried to organize a slave revolt. It remained a force for social change. Civil rights marchers gathered there, and Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke from the pulpit. In 2015, nine people, including Reverend Clementa Pinckney, were shot and killed inside the church. Days later, President Barack Obama gave an historic speech from the church’s pulpit. Learn more at emanuelnine.org
Address: Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, Old Towne Road, Charleston, SC, USA
In 1670, the first permanent English settlement in South Carolina was established at Albemarle Point. Many of the original settlers came from Barbados, including the new governor, William Sayle. A year before, in 1669, prospective settlers including John Locke wrote the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, which served as an early form of government for the Carolina colony. In 1680, the colony moved to Charles Town, which later became Charleston. Today this is the location of Charlestowne Landing State Historic Site.
Address: 56 Broad Street, Charleston, SC, USA
President Abraham Lincoln established the Freedman’s Bank in 1865 as part of the Freedman’s Bureau, designed to aid newly freed black men and women in their transition to freedom. To support the land grants and other elements of the Freedman’s Bureau Act, a Freedman’s Bank was established to help newly freed Americans navigate their financial lives. The Freedman’s Bank maintained some 37 offices in 17 states, including Charleston, South Carolina.
Address: 1214 Middle St, Sullivan's Island, SC 29482, USA
Erected in 1999 in the visitors parking lot of Fort Moultrie, this historical marker acknowledges Sullivan’s Island as the arrival point for tens of thousands of Africans torn from their homes in West Africa and sold into slavery between 1700 and 1775. About 40 percent of African-Americans alive today can trace their ancestral roots to West Africa through the Sullivan’s Island/Charleston gateway. In 2008 Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison dedicated a bench located behind the Fort Moultrie Visitor Center in memory of the people who were once enslaved here.
Address: 71 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
In 1815, Jehu Jones, Sr. establishes the Jones Hotel at 71 Broad Street, described as “the finest hotel in Charleston.” Born a slave, Jones purchased his freedom in 1798. Subsequently, Jones established his own tailor business and was so successful that in 1802 he was able to invest in real estate in Charleston and Sullivan’s Island. By 1816, Jones and his wife were devoting their full energies to operating the hotel.
Address: 20 Franklin Street, Charleston, SC, USA
Daniel Jenkins was a charismatic African American laborer who earned a meager living hauling timber. Upon discovering four abandoned black boys in an empty railroad car, he took the orphans home and gave them food and shelter. This act of kindness in 1891 launched the Jenkins Orphanage, dedicated to supporting the economic and social well being of children. The organization’s programs included music, and the Jenkins Orphanage Band nurtured the talents of some of the most famous African-American musicians, making it an important source of Southern jazz and social good. Now called Jenkins Institute, the organization’s important work continues.
Address: 81 Columbus Street, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP was established in New York in 1909 by writer / activist W.E.B. DuBois. The first NAACP branches in South Carolina were organized in Charleston and Columbia in 1917 with 75 members. Two of the founding members in Charleston were artist Edwin Harleston and activist Septima Poinsette Clark. Their greatest early success occurred in 1920, when they used a petition signed by three-fourths of the blacks in the city to persuade white leaders to hire black teachers to teach in black public schools
Address: 4593 Kings Point Rd, Hollywood, SC 29449, USA
In 1739, about 20 miles south of Charles Towne, nearly 100 black insurrectionists seized firearms and attempted to rally more people to join them in revolt. They planned to fight their way to St. Augustine, Florida where the Spanish promised freedom. They ran into a group of whites led by the colony’s Lieutenant Governor, who alerted authorities. The rebellion was forcefully put down and some 60 rebels were executed; many were decapitated. The public display of their maimed bodies served to warn others of the consequences of running away or resisting enslavement.
Address: 123 Bull St, Charleston, SC, USA
In 1985, The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture was established on the former site of the prestigious Avery Normal Institute (c. 1865) as part of the academic program at the College of Charleston. The Avery Normal Institute was a nationally recognized school that trained young adults in professional careers and leadership roles for nearly 100 years.
Address: 135 Cannon Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA
In 1897 the Cannon Street Hospital and Training School for Nurses opened here. Established by African American physicians to serve their community during the Jim Crow era, this was the first hospital training school for nurses in the state. In 1956, the hospital moved to a new building at 25 Courtenay Dr. It was renamed McClennan-Banks Memorial Hospital, which closed in 1976. Today this is the site of MUSC's Ashley River Tower.
Address: 171 Moultrie St, Charleston, SC 29409, USA
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, has origins that date back to 1822 when Denmark Vesey, a free black man and founding member of Emanuel AME Church, plotted a slave revolt in Charleston. Before the insurrection could begin, Vesey and his co-conspirators were discovered and publicly hanged. That year, the S.C. Legislature voted to create a municipal guard and arsenal at Marion Square to fortify Charleston against future slave rebellions. In 1842, the Legislature established the South Carolina Military Academy with locations in Charleston and Columbia. The first class of Citadel cadets reported to school at Marion Square in 1843.