A Travel Guide to S.C. African American Cultural Sites


Spotlight Attractions from the Green Book of South Carolina

Spotlight Attractions from the Green Book of South Carolina: A Travel Guide to S.C. African American Cultural Sites

The Green Book of South Carolina is the first mobile travel guide to African American cultural sites across South Carolina, created by the S.C. African American Heritage Commission to offer residents and visitors from around the world a user-friendly guide to discovering and celebrating enriching cultural experiences across the state of South Carolina.

In order to be included in the Green Book of S.C., sites must be on the National Register or have a State Historic Marker. A selection of spotlight attractions and the cities and tourism districts in which they are located serve as an introduction to the types of sites users will find in the Green Book of South Carolina listings:

  1. Mann Simons Site, Columbia, S.C. – Capital City/Lake Murray Country
  2. Historic Brattonsville, McConnells, S.C. – Olde English District (OED)
  3. Bertha Lee Strickland Museum, Seneca, S.C. – Lake Hartwell Country
  4. Southern African American Heritage Center, Cheraw, S.C. – Olde English District (OED)
  5. Penn Center, St. Helena Island, S.C. – Lowcountry and Resort Islands
  6. Atlantic Beach, S.C. – Grand Strand
  7. Redcliffe Plantation, Beech Island, S.C. – Thoroughbred Country

Atlantic Beach: Nicknamed “The Black Pearl,” this was established around 1934 as an oceanfront community for blacks denied access to other area beaches because of segregation laws. The area was one of the most popular beach resorts on the East Coast for blacks from Virginia to Florida. Its hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and pavilion were packed every May to September. As other area beaches began desegregating in the 1970s the beach saw fewer visitors. The town of Atlantic Beach, chartered in 1966, is one of a few black-owned and governed oceanfront communities in the United States. Marker erected by the Atlantic Beach Historical Society, 2005.

Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum, Seneca, S.C.: The Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum is the only exhibit museum in Oconee County that underscores the rich, colorful, turbulent history of the local African American community. As stated in its motto, “Honoring the Past – Elevating the Future,” the museum incorporates technology and tradition to create a meaningful and educational experience for all ages. Rotating exhibits 2-4 times annually, BLSCM showcases ordinary people of the past and present whose stories and achievements will impact generations. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm. Admission is free.

Historic Brattonsville: Historic Brattonsville presents the history of the Scots-Irish and African Americans in the South Carolina upcountry largely through preserving and interpreting the story of the Bratton community. This site has more than 30 historic structures from the 1760s to the late 19th century, including an original brick slave cabin. This site celebrates the rich heritage of African Americans in an annual program entitled “By the Sweat of Our Brows.” During this powerful program, visitors have the opportunity to learn about the enslaved community of Brattonsville as well as meet and hear from descendants of those who were once enslaved here. 

Mann-Simons Site, Columbia, S.C.: Although only one house stands today, the Mann-Simons Site was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African American family from at least 1843 until 1970. The cottage was the home of Celia Mann and her husband Ben Delane, among the few free blacks living in Columbia in the two decades before the Civil War. Three Baptist churches in Columbia (First Calvary, Second Calvary, and Zion) held services in the basement of the house until their sanctuaries were built. Mann’s daughter Agnes lived here and descendants of her second husband, Bill Simons, owned the house until 1960. The site is managed by Historic Columbia.

Penn Center, St. Helena Island, S.C.: Penn School was founded in 1862 by northern missionaries and abolitionists who came to South Carolina after the capture of the Sea Islands by Union troops. The site and its collection of historic buildings were venues for education, the preservation and interpretation of sea island culture, and a strategy meeting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before his March on Washington in 1963. In January 2017, Penn Center and other historic sites in Beaufort County were declared the nation’s first Reconstruction Era National Monument by President Barack Obama.

Redcliffe Plantation, Beech Island, S.C.: Redcliffe interprets the history of multiple generations of families (Henleys, Goodwins and Wigfalls) who were enslaved here and at other plantations owned by SC Governor James Henry Hammond, or who worked as sharecroppers and/or paid employees from 1831 to 1875. In addition to touring the two historic c. 1857 slave cabins, visitors learn more from special exhibits and interpretive programs. Another state park that offers interpretive programming on African American heritage is Aiken State Park.

Southern African American Heritage Center, Cheraw, S.C.: Located in Cheraw’s historic black business district, the Southern African American Heritage Center is dedicated to collecting, documenting and preserving the contributions of African Americans in Chesterfield County. Visitors will find documents and artifacts on display that relate to local history and culture from the 1800s to the mid-1900s, including Dizzy Gillespie, Coulter Memorial Academy, Long High School, and civil rights and church history. The Center offers walking tours of African American landmarks in downtown Cheraw, educational programs for adults and children, and a gift shop. Call or visit the website for hours and admission or to schedule a tour.

Follow @GreenBookofSC and #GreenBookofSC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and discover the Green Book of S.C. mobile travel guide at http://www.GreenBookofSC.com.

About the Green Book of South Carolina
The Green Book of South Carolina is the first mobile web travel guide to African American cultural sites across South Carolina, created by the S.C. African American Heritage Commission to offer residents and visitors from around the world a user-friendly guide to discovering and celebrating enriching cultural experiences across the state of South Carolina. 
First published in 1936 by N.Y. postman Victor Green, the original Green Book was an African American travel guide to safe harbors & welcoming establishments across the United States, printed until the mid-1960s. This contemporary homage features tourism destinations that impart a new Southern experience, sharing the compelling story of African American heritage in the Palmetto State. Follow @GreenBookofSC on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and use the mobile travel guide at http://www.greenbookofsc.com.

About the S.C. African American Heritage Commission

Founded in 1993 as an affiliate of the S.C. Department of Archives and History, the goal of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC) is to identify and promote the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina. The Commission’s efforts, supported by the nonprofit S.C. African American Heritage Foundation, include preserving South Carolina African American culture through education, the arts, historic preservation and tourism. The Commission is comprised of close to 30 volunteer professionals from the fields of historic preservation and interpretation, education, tourism marketing, business development and the arts; this group of professors, tourism professionals, activists and advocates includes representatives from all regions of the state of South Carolina. Learn more at http://scaaheritagefound.org or http://shpo.sc.gov/res/Pages/SCAAHC.aspx.