Slavery and its Legacies: Sites of Oppression

Black Americans in Charleston, and the country as a whole, have struggled against the chains of oppression that stretch back to the beginning of enslavement. Even after emancipation, Black Charlestonians have been subject to the violence of racial terrorism, the vehement resistance to integration, and the governmental neglect of Black communities from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries. The sites of this tour tell some, but certainly not all, of these stories.

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.

Martindale-Bell House, 2 Green Way

The former home that now stands on the College of Charleston campus at 2 Green Way, beside St. Philip Street, is known as the Martindale-Bell House or the Johnson House. This former residence is significant within the realm of African American…

Francis Marion Hotel, 387 King Street

The Francis Marion Hotel presents another story of how Black Charlestonians fought against the legacy of slavery and white supremacy in their effort to establish a more equal Charleston and a more equal America. Built during the era of segregation,…

Charleston “Race Riot” of 1919, 305 King Street

King Street has not always been the touristy commercial district of Charleston. In place of its present-day antique shops, trendy fashion design outlets, and tempting eateries was once a sprawling corridor with many Black-owned and -operated…

Buist Elementary School, 103 Calhoun Street

Buist Elementary School, a segregated school for Blacks, was located at 103 Calhoun Street in Charleston, South Carolina. It is now known as Buist Academy for Advanced Studies and is an academic magnet school. The school's history is rife with racial…

Charleston Work House and "Sugar House"

“I have heard a great deal said about hell, and wicked places, but I don't think there is any worse hell than that sugar house.” Before South Carolina became famous for its prized Carolina Gold rice, there were several agricultural experiments…

Cabbage Row, 89-91 Church Street

“Catfish Row,” the famed setting of DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel, Porgy, and George Gershwin’s 1935 opera, Porgy and Bess, was based upon an area of Charleston located at 89 to 91 Church Street. Before DuBose Heyward penned the story, the original…

St. Michael’s Church, 80 Meeting Street

When Anglicanism was made the official religion of the Carolina Colony in 1703, only one parish was established in the city of Charleston: St. Philip’s. Less than fifty years later, the building became too small to adequately serve the numbers…

Post & Courier Office, 134 Columbus Street

As the longest continually publishing newspaper in the South, the Post and Courier has offered well-respected journalism both within and outside of the Lowcountry for centuries, and continues to do so to this very day. Throughout much of the…

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, 122 East Bay Street

The Old and Exchange and Provost Dungeon at 122 East Bay Street was built in 1771 as a customs house for the city of Charles Town. Built on top of the location of the former Watch House and part of the Half-Moon Battery of the old city walls, it was…
This project would not be possible without the support of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston, Special Collections, Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Marketing and Communications Department at the College of Charleston and the research efforts of the graduate students in the History Department
250th Anniversary Hist Doc Committee (Harlan, Julia, Ron)
Website Curator: Grayson Harris