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Hundreds of students discover and honor African American heritage and history at Wannamaker County Park event
3/6/2015 10:59:04 AM
Last Updated:
3/6/2015 11:12:56 AM




On Feb. 27, approximately 800 elementary and middle school students attended a day of learning, honoring and celebrating African American heritage and history. Held at Wannamaker County Park, the African American Heritage Festival was open to regional public, private, and home school students.

Hosted by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, the annual event celebrates the traditions and histories of Africans and their descendants in the Americas, especially South Carolina. Young students were immersed in African American culture and history through a variety of activities including demonstrations, reenactments, performances and hands-on experiences.

A riveting actress portraying Harriet Tubman showed children at the festival the meaning of freedom and the role played by the Underground Railroad. Students sat with reenactors of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and learned about the life of an African American soldier fighting for emancipation. They played African drums, and listened to stories about life in the country of Sierra Leone. They heard colorful, authentic tales and songs about Gullah life and culture from the captivating Gullah Lady.

Children tried their hands at milling Carolina Gold rice, created medicine bags of garden herbs, and learned to make indigo to dye fabric. And, they received some fabulous and educational entertainment from Capoeira Charleston, a local group who performs the Brazilian form of martial arts and dance with African influences.

In addition to meeting social studies standards for South Carolina public schools, the African American Heritage Festival also fit into curriculums for many private and home schools who were studying Black History Month in February.

Private West Ashley school Trinity Montessori came to the festival this year for the first time after a parent recommendation. “Our curriculum is based on an immersion of international cultures and cultural life, so this was of great interest to us for academic experience. We wanted to immerse them in it,” said Sharon Beeson, Elementary Directress for Trinity Montessori. The school, who had also recently been studying African drumming, brought a large group of children ages 6-12 to the festival. “It all fit into our curriculum.”

The African American Heritage Festival is an annual event open to any interested elementary school or educational group. The festival is just one of a number of standards-based education programs offered at your Charleston County Parks. For more information on the African American Heritage Festival and other education programs offered at the county parks, visit or call 843-795-4386.

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