Charleston Sites to Visit in Honor of Black History Month

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Looking for a way to learn about black history in Charleston, South Carolina? The beautiful, history-rich city has some unique sites and museums where you can learn about the atrocities of slavery in this country and in South Carolina.

We recently visited and compiled this list of black historical sites in Charleston, SC, where you can go to learn anytime you’re in the area.

Plan your weekend! Here’s where to stay in Charleston, SC.

Cobblestone Street in Charleston, SC

Charleston, South Carolina is rich with history. During my visit, I made sure to go to some locations in honor of Black History Month.

In the past three centuries, Charleston has seen its fair share of atrocities, both natural and man-made. War, a fire in 1838 that destroyed more than a quarter of Charleston, an earthquake in 1886 that destroyed 2,000 buildings, and the entry into the country of nearly half of all the enslaved Africans through the port of Charleston. No other city in the United States played a more significant role in the slave trade. Even today, we can still see traces left behind by the men, women, and children who put their blood, sweat, and tears into building the city we know today.

Philadelphia Alley

Philadelphia Alley, located in the French Quarter area of Charleston, is a hidden gem and one of my favorite places in the city. As you walk the alley, look closely at the brick-paved street; you might catch a glimpse of the handprint of the person who created the bricks back in 1776. Many of the plantations in Charleston County produced bricks. Handprints and fingerprints were forever captured in the clay when the bricks were handled too soon. These bricks can be found all over the city.

Bricks in Charleston, SC

Not taking into account that this alley is said to be haunted, it’s hard to not feel the presence of those who came before. Especially when you lay your hand in theirs. One of the most emotional things for me was that a good deal of the handprints was smaller than those of my seven-year-old son’s.

Philadelphia Alley
22 Queen Street
Charleston, SC 29401

The Old Slave Mart Museum

A walking distance away from Philadelphia Alley, you’ll find The Old Slave Mart Museum.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. This building is thought to be the only known slave auction house left in existence.

In the 1850s a man named Thomas Ryan ran a slave brokerage house from this building. The opening of this business was a direct result of the city ordinance passed in 1856 that prohibited the practice of “public sales”, with the last sale occurring there in November of 1863. The museum contains items dedicated to the African-American history of Charleston and the enslaved who passed through it. Included in the exhibit are autobiographical recordings of some of those people.

While very educational, I do not think my toddler would have been content while visiting this museum. The exhibit consists mostly of artifacts and a lot of reading information related to them. I suggest touring it with school-age children for that reason. The museum is closed on Sundays and admission is $8 per person.

The Old Slave Mart Museum
6 Chalmers Street
Charleston SC 29401
843.958.6467

The Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, SC

Fort Moultrie & The Bench By The Road

Adjacent to the port of entry that so many enslaved people came through, sits a bench. The bench was placed in the park in 2008, in partnership with the late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. She sought to provide some sort of place where people could go and contemplate slavery. It is one of several that have been placed around the world.

The Fort Moultrie Museum includes an exhibit on the enslaved people of Charleston. “African Passages” details what would happen once a person arrived on our shores. The exhibit also introduces you to a young girl stolen from her Sierra Leone home. The ten-year-old, named Priscilla, was brought here in 1750. Miraculously, her ancestors were able to trace their roots back to her. Over 250 years later, a descendant of the young slaves, a teacher from Charleston, was able to travel back to Sierra Leone and meet her distant relatives.

Admission is currently $10 per adult, age 16 and over. The annual pass is a better deal if you have four adults in your group. For $35, the pass-holder plus three adults will have a year’s access to the park. Fort Moultrie is open daily from 9 am – 4 pm.

Children under 15 are admitted for free at this park, but if you have a fourth-grader don’t forget to take advantage of the National Parks “Every Kid in a Park” program.

Fort Moultrie
1214 Middle Street
Sullivans Island SC 29482
843.732.5020

Plantation Tours

There is plenty to do and see for visitors of all ages on the plantation tours, however, due to the admission prices I suggest only visiting if you have the day to dedicate to them.

Middleton Place Plantation

This 65-acre, former rice plantation includes America’s oldest landscaped garden. Those gardens include the first Camellias planted in America. Tours of the gardens are included with general admission. On Sundays and in February, the plantation will offer a 30-minute program called – “LEST WE FORGET. . . A STORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE”. This storytelling and musical program focuses on one woman’s life as an enslaved person in South Carolina. 

The grounds include a restaurant, so one could easily spend the day there. The free-roaming livestock and stable yards will be a favorite of the children in your family. The gates are open daily for entry from 9 am-5 pm, with guests being permitted to stay until dusk.

Admission – Adults (14 & over) $29 ($32 if purchased in person), Students (14 & over with student ID) $15, Children (6-13) $10, Children 5 and under Free

Middleton Place Plantation
4300 Ashley River Road
Charleston SC 29414
843.556.6020

Drayton Hall

This Plantation is located on the Ashley River in North Charleston. It is unique because it’s the only one to have survived both the revolutionary and civil wars on the river. It is thought that the home was built sometime in between 1738 and the early 1750s. Included with admission you’ll also have access to Drayton Hall, The Nature Trail, The Lenhardt Garden, the Caretaker’s house, and the African American Cemetery. Very few gravestones remain in the cemetery. The majority of the gravestones were made of wood, cloth, or marked by plants, for those who were fortunate enough to receive gravestones. Drayton Hall is another location where bricks can be found that display handprints.

There’s also a combination ticket package that includes admission and a tour to both Middleton Place and Drayton Hall. It’s suggested that you set aside 5 hours for the full tour package. The cost is $47 per adult and $16 per child.

Drayton Hall is closed on Tuesdays, but open every other day of the week from 9 am – 5 pm. Admission –  Adults (15 and over) $26, Children (7-15) $10, Children 6 and under are free.

Drayton Hall
3380 Ashley River Road
Charleston SC 29414
843.769.2600

More to See in Charleston for Black History Month

Here are some other places to visit and tours to consider, while exploring Charleston during Black History Month or any time of year.

Mother Emmanuel AME Church
110 Calhoun Street
Charleston SC 29401
843.722.2561

Charleston City Market
Find a variety of hand-woven sweetgrass baskets at the market. Well-known in the Gullah culture, sweetgrass baskets were brought here from Africa.
188 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC
843.937.0920

Old Charleston Jail
This is the Old City Jail that operated from 1802 until 1939. Several well-known slaves were held there, including Denmark Vessey and Lavinia Fisher.
21 Magazine Street
Charleston, SC

Gullah Tours
375 Meeting Street
Charleston SC 29403
843.763.7551

College of Charleston Library (graveyard behind it)
205 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC
843.953.8000

Bethel United Methodist Church (graveyard next to it)
57 Pitt Street
Charleston, SC

Frankly Charleston Black History Tours
375 Meeting Street
Charleston SC 29403
843.860.7451

Cabbage Row
Cabbage Row is a set of pre-Revolutionary houses that sits between 89-91 Church Street. The families of freed slaves lived in these houses, and they sold cabbage from their windows.
89-91 Church Street
Charleston, SC

McLeod Plantation Historic Site
325 Country Club Drive
Charleston, SC
843.762.9514

Aiken-Rhett House
48 Elizabeth Street
Charleston, SC
843.723.1159

Philip Simmons House
30 1/2 Blake Street
Charleston, SC
843.571.6435

Mount Zion AME Church
5 Glebe Street
Charleston, SC
843.722.8118

Looking for more to do in Charleston? Read Kidding Around’s Guide to Charleston on things to do, where to stay, and places to eat.

Have you visited any of these sites? Do you know of a site we should include on this list? Let us know in the comments!

This article was originally written by Melanie Coblentz and has been updated heavily by the Kidding Around Team.

Kidding Around Team Members
About the Author
How does Kidding Around® bring readers high-quality and up-to-date content month after month and season after season? We have a dedicated team of writers and editors who regularly update our fabulous content to keep it current and relevant for our readers. This team combs lists of events, heads out into the community to experience new Upstate offerings, and communicates with local businesses. Many of our updated articles and event lists, like this one, reflect the contributions and hard work of multiple Kidding Around® team members.

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Jason Pritchard
1 year ago

I went to Middleton Place last weekend, against my better judgement. They do little to nothing to honor the “hundreds” of African descendants that lived and died there as enslaved people. There are 3 relocated head stones in the “slave cemetery” that no longer mark the graves they once did. They have not brought archeologists in to excavated, per their historical marker at the site. Come on Middleton Place.

5 months ago

2023 Black History Month – Charleston, SC
Please check out Franklin D Williams on his famous Frankly Charleston Black History Tour.
More Info:
Frankly Charleston Black History Tours, 375 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403 +18438607451
https://www.franklycharleston.com