Historic Charleston

The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission suggests the following trip itinerary through Charleston and surrounding islands and communities to enrich your vacation in South Carolina. Trips like this are outstanding, day-long excursions suitable for family reunions, fraternity / sorority get-togethers, meetings and other gatherings. Tour companies to consider – Gullah Tours, 843-763-7551 or info@gullahtours.com; Gullah Gullah Tours.  For details about other day-trips, including best practices for trip planning, click here.

9 a.m. McLeod Plantation Historic Site and Sankofa Burial Site of our African Ancestors – 325 Country Club Road, James Island, SC – 843-762-9514
The majority of the people living at this former Sea Island cotton plantation from the 1700s-1980s strove daily for their freedom and equality. Today several 19th-century buildings still stand, including slave houses lived in until 1990, several out buildings and the main house that served as the Freedman’s Bureau James Island field office following the Civil War. A cemetery, known as the Sankofa Burial Site of our African Ancestors, is the final resting place for approximately 100 people. Tours exploring how people transitioned from slavery to freedom through the post-civil rights era are recommended. A 45-minute tour is included in admission, and one is scheduled daily at 9:30 a.m.
Time at site – 1.5 hours
11 a.m. Harmon Field – President Street at Fishburne Street, Charleston
*MARKER* — A *marker on the President Street side of this intersection tells the story of Harmon Field, the designated recreation area for African Americans during segregation until 1964. In 1953, it was the home for the Cannon Street All-Stars, the state’s first black Little League, affiliated with the Cannon Street YMCA. In 1955, the YMCA entered the team into the state’s Little League tournament, and white teams boycotted rather than integrate. The Cannon Street All-Stars became state champions by forfeit. They were invited to the Little League World Series, but not allowed to compete.
Time at site – If you exit your vehicle for photos, allow 30 minutes. Don’t forget to post to social media using #GreenBookofSC
11:45 a.m. Emanuel AME Church (please contact the church to make arrangements to visit) – 110 Calhoun Street, Charleston – 843-722-2561
The congregation of Emanuel AME was organized c. 1865 with Rev. Richard H. Cain as its first pastor. The church was built on the legacy of an African Methodist Church, which had thrived in the early 19th century, but had been banned after the Denmark Vesey conspiracy. In addition to his work with the AME Church, Cain held several political offices including serving two terms in Congress (1873-1875 and 1877-1879). In 2015, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also held office as a State Senator, and eight other worshippers were killed at the church when a gunman opened fire during Bible study.
Time at site – If you secure a guided tour of the church, allow one hour.
12:30 p.m. LUNCH – Recommend Rodney Scott’s Barbecue – 1011 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403, 843-990-9535 or Gillie’s Soul Food — 505 Folly Road, Charleston, SC 29412, 843-297-8615
2 p.m. Gadsden’s Wharf – 340 Concord Street, Charleston
This will be the site of the new International African American Museum in Charleston, scheduled to open to the public in 2019. Today, a wayside installed at the site interprets the historical significance of Gadsden’s Wharf. It was the last and most important disembarkation point for enslaved Africans in North America. Completed in 1772 by slave labor, the wharf was most active between 1783 and 1808 when an estimated 100,000 African men, women and children arrived and were sold into slavery. The wharf stretched from today’s Calhoun and Laurens streets and from the harbor to East Bay. It could accommodate up to six ships at once. Visitors to the wharf today will see the South Carolina Aquarium, Gadsden’s Borough Park, the Charleston Maritime Center and the National Park Service’s visitors’ center from which ferries carry passengers to historic Fort Sumter.
Time at site – 30 minutes
2:45 p.m. The Cigar Factory – 701 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC
*MARKER* — A *marker outside of this National Historic Landmark interprets the story of African American workers at the Cigar Factory who, in 1945, went on strike to demand fair wages. Strikers sang an old gospel hymn “I’ll Overcome Some Day,” which was later adapted to one of the most popular Freedom Songs of the Civil Rights movement – “We Shall Overcome.”
Time at site –If you exit your vehicle to take photos, allow 30 minutes. Post to social media using #GreenBookofSC.
3:30 p.m. Sweetgrass Pavilion – 99 Harry M. Hallman Jr. Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, SC – 843-800-3047
The Sweetgrass Pavilion is an exceptional special event and meeting space that showcases one of the Lowcountry’s largest collections of sweetgrass basket merchandise. Hands-on basket making classes are often held at the venue.


The coiled sweetgrass basket is an historically significant African art that was brought to America in the 17th century by enslaved Africans from the Windward and Rice Coasts of West Africa. These baskets were originally designed as a winnowing tool used in the production and processing of rice. Today, they are popular souvenirs found along the South Carolina coast.

Time at site – 30 minutes, unless you attend a basket-making class.
4 p.m. Toni Morrison’s Bench by the Road at Fort Moultrie National Monument on Sullivan’s Island – 1214 Middle Street, Sullivans Island – 843-883-3123
Beyond military defense, Fort Moultrie tells the story of Sullivan’s Island’s role as an entry point and quarantine station for West Africans who were brought to the Carolina colony during the Middle Passage. Historians estimate that slave ships brought 200,000 to 360,000 West Africans into the Charleston harbor until the international slave trade was abolished in 1808. Author Toni Morrison led an effort to place a “Bench by the Road” to memorialize this history when no monuments or museums marked it.
Time at site – 1 hour
MAPQUEST route itinerary — https://www.mapquest.com/directions/from/us/sc/james-island/29412-2215/325-country-club-dr-32.763835,-79.973803/to/near-32.791452,-79.954272/to/us/south-carolina/charleston/29401-3510/110-calhoun-st-32.787589,-79.933157/to/us/south-carolina/charleston/29401-1530/340-concord-st-32.789740,-79.926917/to/us/south-carolina/charleston/29403-5079/701-e-bay-st-32.797786,-79.934655/to/us/south-carolina/mount-pleasant/29464/99-harry-m-hallman-jr-blvd-32.801886,-79.901392/to/us/south-carolina/sullivans-island/29482-9717/1214-middle-st-32.761203,-79.857222