The public is invited to a community forum on racial justice taking place outdoors at Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island (1214 Middle St., Sullivans Island, SC 29482) at 3 p.m. Thursday, July 16.
The event seeks to add historic perspective to the national dialogue on equality by providing a complete picture of the African American experience in the nation, from their arrival at Charleston and on Sullivans Island to the equality challenges they continue to face four centuries later. Organizers also hope to help interpreters at historic sites become more knowledgeable about and comfortable with re-telling difficult moments in the state’s history.
“I believe the community needs our voices especially in the challenging times that we are living through,” said Michael Allen, event organizer and former Community Partnership Specialist for the National Park Service. “I believe this will bring a greater awareness and understanding of the African and African American experience.”
The discussion will be moderated by Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, an executive who held several local, regional and national leadership positions in the NAACP and currently Vice President, Religious Affairs and External Relations for the National Action Network.
Located just off the coast of Charleston, Sullivans Island was an entry point for Africans who were brought to the colonies during the Trans Atlantic Slave trade. Under a 1698 expansion of the colony’s maritime defense laws, Africans were immediately quarantined on the island in “Pest Houses” upon arrival, until they were medically cleared to be sold at auction in Charleston. Although there were monuments and museums dedicated to colonization, there was no marker interpreting the arrival of Africans on Sullivans Island until 1999.
Over the centuries, enslaved and free Africans faced equality challenges through social settings and legal injustice. Southern states seceded to maintain their economic model based on slavery. During Reconstruction, massacres occurred across the South to compromise African American independence and strengthen white supremacy. The Jim Crow era ushered in legal segregation and lynching terror. And African Americans spent much of the 20th century fighting for civil rights.
“The history of Sullivans Island is inextricably linked to the journey of Africans in America and, in many respects, due to the volume of Africans that came through the port of Charleston, this sacred space is the ideal location to host this community gathering,” Allen said. “With the recent death of George Floyd and others, and the ongoing civil rights conversations held locally, nationally and internationally, I think this conversation on Sullivans Island is even more crucial and timely.”
Participants are asked to bring lawn chairs, insect repellent and sunscreen. They also must wear masks and comfortable walking shoes, and maintain social distancing.
For more information, contact Michael Allen at Allen Consulting Firm at 843-696-955.