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.

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 businesses, especially around the southern section of the street.
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“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 conducted to determine what would be the most lucrative…
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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 designed by William Rigby Naylor and constructed…
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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