Eighteen and a Half

Well, hello there! Long time no…write?

It’s been a few years since I last blogged, and I’ve been away far too long. There are many reasons excuses I could rattle off for why I haven’t invested time in this craft. But, don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all of that.

I’m back!

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A lot has happened since we were together last, including a surprise trip to Charleston, SC for my mother’s 57th birthday! My younger sister planned the majority of the trip as I assisted in the execution…aka ALL OF THE DRIVING.

It was a great trip overall. Enjoy the photo slideshow above.

One of the highlights from the trip was a horse-drawn carriage tour; “From Slavery to IMG-5501Freedom.” I was forced to sit directly behind the horse as it whipped its tail back and forth and dropped massive mounds of poop in the bag strapped to him.

Every few hundred yards we’d come upon a urine marker where the horse would stop, and the levee would break. {Cue Bishop Paul Morton…”Open the floodgates…”}

The tour was led by a young white man with such a deep, rich drawl it sounded as if it’d make his tongue tired just to talk.

He was obviously well learned on the history of the Southern coast and its origins as a slave port; a time when the black and the brown outnumbered everyone else. Now gentrification has changed the face of Charleston, as it has many cities across the country.

Our guide led us along streets named after former slave owners, statesmen, and other prominent figures.

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Old Slave Mart Museum

Pinckney.

Calhoun.

Middleton.

Rutledge.

Drayton.

These names were also some of those inscribed on plantation records and receipts at the Old Slave Mart Museum we later found. The museum is built around the actual site where slaves were auctioned, sold and traded.

 

How many families were separated within this preserved space?

Did mothers cry for their babies?

Did husbands silently plead for the comfort of their wives?

There was little talking inside the museum walls; only the moaning and groaning of thick wood floors; deep brown. Chains, shackles, and torturous contraptions I’d never seen, let alone imagined even existed, neatly lined display cases.

“Do Not Touch”

An audio exhibit allowed visitors to pick up germ-ridden telephone receivers and listen to firsthand accounts of mistreatment and bigotry. One weathered voice told of ways in which slave owners tricked buyers into thinking their men and women were in better shape than they actually were. Enslaved workers were forced to run and jog for hours the night before an auction to make them appear toned and strong; though weary and worn.

The museum was full of heart-wrenching pictures, videos, audio clips, clothes and tools that tell the stories of what our people went through. White folks with tear-stained faces looked at us as if to say, “We’re so sorry…”


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“1/2” indicates slave quarters

On the walk back from the museum, I was reminded of something our carriage tour guide had told us. Slave quarters, often located near the homes of slave owners, had house numbers with the “1/2” notation. (In this case, the main house’s number would be 18)

Though we’d already been walking the same cobblestone streets our bound brothers and sisters once traversed, seeing that house number made me feel a way I couldn’t quite articulate. Though this small home resting in the shadows of its neighbors had been completely modernized, I thought of what stories lied within that old structure.

If those cracked brick walls could talk, what would they say? How many babies were birthed, lives were lost or dreams dried up like raisins in the sun?


This trip was a surprise birthday gift for Mama, but it was enriching for me.

I enjoyed learning about the first slave port in the US; visiting the famously haunted Charleston Jail (I love that stuff); enjoying the breeze at Waterfront Park and the beautifully painted houses on Rainbow Row. Though too expensive for me to purchase at the time, I found the intricate artistry of Gullah basket weaving to be a beautiful tradition.

While on the carriage tour, we briefly stopped by the oldest AME Church in the south, Mother Emanuel AME Church. This was the site of a hate crime that will forever change the lives and faith of many. Nine members of the church were senselessly murdered by a racist posing as a visiting worshiper. He had researched the church and sought to target this church due to its significance in African-American history. The beauty of the edifice masks the evil that occurred that horrific night in June.

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Mother Emanuel AME Church

There was so much to explore and too little time. I will definitely be taking another trip to Charleston, SC. It was an unforgettable experience that I look forward to exploring deeper. I would recommend the city to anyone.

Take time to survey the land. It’s okay to vacation and learn something at the same time.

You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

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