Slavery and its Legacies: Sites of Agency

Included in this tour are sites illustrating the efforts of Black Charlestonians to take control over their lives and their communities. Whether they lived during the era of enslavement, endured the failed promises of Reconstruction, or struggled against the suffocating weight of Jim Crow laws and customs, the Black residents of Charleston seized social economic opportunities where they could and created their own opportunities to secure their place in the city’s social, cultural, and economic landscapes.

This tour was developed in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston. In Spring 2020, graduate students in Dr. Rachel Donaldson’s History 590 crafted 5 thematic tours focusing on the history of slavery and its enduring legacies in the city of Charleston. Using the College of Charleston as the center, the tours move outward from the campus in a radius of eight blocks or less to the north, south, east, and west to sites that reveal stories of community endurance, resistance, fellowship, and agency. While we emphasized sites and structures that remain visible in the built environment, we also uncovered the stories of sites that have been lost over time. Our work, as we see it, is part of current efforts to uncover, document, and interpret the history and legacy of slavery on the cultural landscape.

74 George Street is mere steps away from the Cistern Yard of the College of Charleston. It has been present for most of the College’s major milestones and events, and it now sits in the shadow of the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center and the new Hollings Science Center Auditorium.  Since 1837 this…
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The Brown Fellowship Society, founded November 1st, 1790 by Charleston’s community of elite free persons of color, is more than two centuries old. This Society was once central to the African American community of Charleston, and members maintained a cemetery next to their meeting hall on Pitt…
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Realtors, newer residents, and tourists in Charleston usually include the neighborhood around Morris Street in the Cannonborough-Elliottborough or Radcliffeborough subdivisions. To do so, however, erases Morris Street’s individuality and distinctive story.
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This project was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Slavery’s Public History Working Group and by the 250th Anniversary Historical Documentation Committee, with additional support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), the Department of History, the Graduate School, and the College’s department of Marketing and Communications.

Research and Publication Assistance provided by Harlan Greene, Julia Eichelberger, Rachel Donaldson, Aaisha Haykal, Grayson Harris, Noah Dubois, Barry Stiefel, and Mary Jo Fairchild. Special thanks for images and permissions provided by Historic Charleston Foundation, Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Charleston Museum, Addlestone Library’s Special Collections, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, and C of C’s Department of Marketing and Communications.

Website Curator: Grayson Harris

This site will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have additional images or information to contribute to this tour, please contact us at