South Carolina: Columbia & Charleston

A close-up of a part of the African American History Monument in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct. 12, 2017

It’s our second full day in Columbia, South Carolina, and also the midway point of our road trip which began in North Carolina, now through South Carolina and on to Georgia. For me the highlight of Columbia has been the chance to do some chilling and see the stunning African American Heritage Monument on the grounds of the South Carolina State House. In fact the park-like grounds of the State House are chock full of statues but the monument is a remarkable piece of art that chronologically highlights the African American story from slavery to civil rights. Take a look for yourself.

Tomorrow we make our way to Charleston, South Carolina.

The African American History Monument sits majestically on the east side of the South Carolina State House grounds in Columbia. It was sculpted by Ed Dwight of Denver, Colo., and modeled after an African village built in the round. The left wall of the monument, in chronological order, includes the slave auction block, slaves being transported on a ship, slaves at labor, slaves escaping, African-American Union soldiers from South Carolina and emancipation. The right wall is the reconstruction, Jim Crow era, migration north, beginnings of integration, civil rights era, and African Americans integrated into society as astronauts, judges, legislators, Civil Rights leaders, athletes, business and political leaders. The monument was installed in 2001. Oct. 12, 2017
The African American History Monument in Columbia, South Carolina, highlights the achievements of African Americans through various sculptures from slavery to civil rights. The sculpture on the ground is of a slave ship. Oct. 12, 2017
Me standing by the Emancipation panel of the African American History Monument located on the east side grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia. oct. 12, 2017
The African American Heritage Monument in Columbia, South Carolina, has two walls with bronze relief sculptures divided into six panels. Each panel depicts a different aspect of the African-American experience in chronological order. This left wall of the monument includes the slave auction block, slaves being transported on a ship, slaves at labor, slaves escaping, African-American Union soldiers from South Carolina and emancipation. Oct. 13, 2017
On this right wall of the African American History Monument in Columbia, South Carolina in chronological order is the reconstruction, Jim Crow era, migration north, beginnings of integration, civil rights era, and African Americans integrated into society as astronauts, judges, legislators, Civil Rights leaders, athletes, business and political leaders. Oct. 13, 2017
A close-up of a part of the African American History Monument in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct. 12, 2017
Debra standing by the granite engraved map at the African American History Monument in Columbia, South Carolina, showing the homelands of the enslaved Africans. The monument is located on the grounds of the South Carolina State House. Oct. 12, 2017
A map at the African American History Monument in Columbia, South Carolina, shows the sketched in continent with the original homelands of the enslaved Africans who were taken from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana and the Congo. Each rubbing stone is from these African countries. Oct. 12, 2017
The South Carolina State House in Columbia and the Confederate monument as seen from Gervais Street. Oct. 13, 2017
The Confederate monument, on the Gervais Street entrance of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, honoring the soldiers of the Confederate Army who died between 1861 and 1865. The statue was unveiled May 13, 1879. Oct. 13, 2017
The Confederate soldier at the top of the Confederate monument on the north side of the South Carolina State House in Columbia that honors soldiers of the Confederate Army who died between 1861 and 1865. The statue was unveiled May 13, 1879. Oct. 13, 2017
The South Carolina State House in Columbia from the south lawn with the Strom Thurmond statue and a marker highlighting the buildings of the Capitol Complex. Oct. 12, 2017
The Wade Hampton State Office Building, located on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, was completed in 1940. The statue of Confederate Civil War General and later South Carolina Governor and U.S. Senator Wade Hampton was placed in front of the building named in his honor in 1969. The building was designed with segregated spaces for African American patrons conducting business there. Oct. 12, 2017
The Monument to Confederate Women, called Angels of the Confederacy by sculptor Frederick W. Ruckstull, was erected in 1912 and located on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia. Oct. 12, 2017
The Monument to Confederate Women, called Angels of the Confederacy, located on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia. Oct. 12, 2017
Monument to the Palmetto Regiment located at the South Carolina State House grounds in Columbia. The Palmetto Regiment of Volunteers of South Carolina was an infantry regiment that participated in the Mexican–American War from 1846 to 1848. Oct. 12, 2017
The historic Mann-Simons Cottage in Columbia, South Carolina was built around 1850 was the antebellum home of formerly enslaved Charlestonians, Celia Mann, a midwife, and Ben Delane, a boatman. The 1 1/2-story cottage sits on a raised basement with a front porch supported by four Tuscan columns. Although only this 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. Oct. 12, 2017
The historic Mann-Simons Cottage in Columbia, South Carolina, shows the property’s former character through ghost structures erected on the exact locations of long-demolished buildings put to residential and business use. Oct. 12, 2017
The Woodrow Wilson Family Home built in 1871 in Columbia, South Carolina, was the home to teenager Tommy Wilson who would go on to become the 28th president of the United States. His father, the Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson was a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary until 1874 when his father took a new assignment and moved his family to Wilmington, N.C. Oct. 12, 2017
The Woodrow Wilson Family Home in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct. 12, 2017
The Woodrow Wilson Family Home in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct. 12, 2017
The historical Hampton-Preston Mansion on Blanding Street in Columbia, South Carolina, was constructed in 1818. The Hampton–Preston House was restored and reopened to the public in 1970 as a museum that epitomizes the lives of the planter elite in antebellum South Carolina, and is operated by the Historic Columbia Foundation. Oct. 12, 2017
The Historic Elmwood Park mural at the entryway of Elmwood Park, a residential neighborhood in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina’s revitalized downtown area. It contains one of the largest collections of early 20th century homes remaining in the city. The housing styles range from Queen Anne style, American Foursquare, gable-front houses, and Colonial Revival houses, to the smaller one-story structures that are predominantly American Craftsman influenced. Oct. 13, 2017
The homes of Historic Elmwood Park, a residential neighborhood in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina’s revitalized downtown area. The housing styles range from Queen Anne style, American Foursquare, gable-front houses, and Colonial Revival houses, to the smaller one-story structures that are predominantly American Craftsman influenced. Oct. 13, 2017
The homes of Historic Elmwood Park, a residential neighborhood in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina’s revitalized downtown area. The housing styles range from Queen Anne style, American Foursquare, gable-front houses, and Colonial Revival houses, to the smaller one-story structures that are predominantly American Craftsman influenced. Oct. 13, 2017
The homes of Historic Elmwood Park, a residential neighborhood in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina’s revitalized downtown area. The housing styles range from Queen Anne style, American Foursquare, gable-front houses, and Colonial Revival houses, to the smaller one-story structures that are predominantly American Craftsman influenced. Oct. 13, 2017
The Randolph Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina, founded in 1871 was one of the first black cemeteries in Columbia. “It was named for Benjamin Franklin Randolph (1837-1868) a black state senator assassinated in 1868 near Hodges, in Abbeville County. Randolph, a native of Kentucky and a free black before the Civil War, had been a chaplain in the Union Army, an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau and a newspaper publisher before he was elected to represent Orangeburg County in the South Carolina Senate,” according to the historical marker by the cemetery entrance. Oct. 13, 2017
The Randolph Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina, founded in 1871 was one of the first black cemeteries in Columbia. Oct. 13, 2017
The memorial to Benjamin Franklin Randolph at the Randolph Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina. Randolph’s life was ended in October of 1868 when he was assassinated by a group of armed white men while attempting to board a train in Abbeville County, South Carolina. Benjamin Randolph’s body would be re-buried in 1871 at Randolph Cemetery and this monument was placed in his honor. Oct. 13, 2017
The Randolph Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina, founded in 1871 was one of the first black cemeteries in Columbia. Oct. 13, 2017
An interesting piece of art called “Busted Plug Plaza,” by Warren Edward Johnson, who goes by the name Sky in Columbia, South Carolina. Four stories in height and weighing 675,000 pounds, this elaborate piece of art is located on Taylor between Marion and Bull Streets. Oct. 13, 2017
Another interesting art piece called “Tunnelvision.” It’s a wall mural by Warren Edward Johnson that covers an exterior wall of the AgFirst Farm Credit Bank at Hampton and Bull Streets in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct. 13, 2017
Here’s the downtown area of Greenville, South Carolina. On our drive to Columbia on Wednesday Debra and I stopped and checked out Greenville’s quaint downtown area. Oct. 11, 2017
Here’s the downtown area of Greenville, South Carolina. On our drive to Columbia on Wednesday Debra and I stopped and checked out Greenville’s quaint downtown area. Oct. 11, 2017
Here’s the downtown area of Greenville, South Carolina. On our drive to Columbia on Wednesday Debra and I stopped and checked out Greenville’s quaint downtown area. Oct. 11, 2017
Here’s the downtown area of Greenville, South Carolina. On our drive to Columbia on Wednesday Debra and I stopped and checked out Greenville’s quaint downtown area. Oct. 11, 2017
Here’s the downtown area of Greenville, South Carolina. On our drive to Columbia on Wednesday Debra and I stopped and checked out Greenville’s quaint downtown area. Oct. 11, 2017

It was a spur of the moment decision to visit a “Plantation,” as the drive from Columbia into Charleston was earlier than expected. Just the word brings to light a past where people, my people, of African descent were taken from their homes and sold as slaves to labor on these plantations. The Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is one of those plantations that used slave labor. The plantation, with its slave cabins and Gullah storyteller about the enslaved Africans, holds more than 300 years of history on its still functioning, still working grounds.

More history awaits in South Carolina’s oldest city…so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the Boone Hall Plantation and let me know what you think.

Originally planted in 1743, these southern live oaks are on both sides of the entryway called “Avenue of Oaks,” that leads to the main house of the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina…just outside of Charlotte, South Carolina. Oct. 14, 2017
The main house of the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is a large Colonial Revival house that replaced the original house on the site. This house was completed in 1936. But the plantation, which spans some 700 acres, is one of America’s oldest working plantations, continually growing crops for more than 320 years. Oct. 14, 2017
The grounds of the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, are a popular venue for weddings which was being set up while we were touring the property. According to gossip, actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively were married at the plantation in 2012. Oct. 14, 2017
Selfie time on the grounds of the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Oct. 14, 2017
Slave Street on the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, shows the nine original slave cabins built between 1790 and 1810. These continued to be occupied by sharecroppers well into the 20th century. Oct. 14, 2017
One of the nine original slave cabins located on the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, were built between 1790 and 1810. Each of these buildings highlights a different theme of the black history story. Oct. 14, 2017
The making of sweetgrass baskets, one of the oldest Gullah traditions…African descendants in the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina…at the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Oct. 14, 2017
The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans from various people who lived in the Lowcountry regions of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina. Oct. 14, 2017
At the Boone Hall Plantation Gullah Theater in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Jackie Michael, the Gullah Storyteller, explains the lives of the slaves who worked the rice fields of the plantation and the distinctive creole language and culture of the Gullah, the descendants of the enslaved Africans who lived in the Lowcountry region of Georgia and South Carolina. Oct. 14, 2017
Jackie Michael, the Gullah Storyteller, at the Boone Hall Plantation outdoor Gullah Theater in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, presented the evolution of the Gullah people and culture in the Lowcountry. Oct. 14, 2017
The grounds and buildings of the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, have appeared in a number of major motion pictures and TV series. This area of the plantation, which is decorated for Halloween, was the scenery for the Alex Haley’s movie called “Queen” staring actress Halle Berry in the title role. It tells the life story of a young woman and it shows the difficulties biracial and former slaves faced in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. The movie “The Notebook,” starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner and Gena Rowlands, was also partially filmed at the plantation. Oct. 14, 2017
Debra standing by a hunk of a tree trunk on the grounds of the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Oct. 14, 2017
Enjoying my first Charleston, South Carolina, meal of Fried Soft Shell crabs on a bed of roasted red pepper corn relish along with Charleston red rice and cole slaw at the Charleston Crab House on Market Street. Oct. 14, 2017

Charleston looks and feels like the Charleston I thought it would be. This city embodies that old-time Southern charm with a present day citified edge to it. And for a history nerd like myself, I feel as if the few days we have here will only allow us to skim the surface of Charleston’s history…but today was a good start.

We spent the afternoon getting an all over and comprehensive view of the city on a historical bus tour and also walked the house and grounds of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston. The property includes the main house with its original outbuildings of the slave quarters, stable and kitchen. Unlike the Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, which we toured yesterday, the Aiken-Rhett House is preserved…but not restored. And, because it’s not-restored this property has an incredible authenticity to it. Walking the hall and standing in the empty rooms of the slave quarters gave me chills. Seeing the fading and peeling authentic wallpaper while walking on the original creaky wood floors allowed me to emotionally and physically plant myself inside this time capsule of a house. If you come to Charleston, you have to tour the Aiken-Rhett House.

More Charleston sites and history to come.

Located on the corner of Judith and Elizabeth streets, the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina, has been preserved rather than restored. Charleston merchant John Robinson built the house in 1820 as a typical Charleston double house with a central hallway and two rooms on either side. When Robinson lost five ships at sea in 1825, he was forced to sell the house to meet his financial obligations. Subsequently, it became the property of William Aiken Sr. in 1827, a railroad company owner and then it became the home of his son and governor of South Carolina, William Aiken, Jr. Upon the governor’s death, his wife, Harriet, and daughter, Henrietta inherited the property. When Harriet died in 1892, daughter, Henrietta, and son-in-law, Major A.B. Rhett, raised their four sons and one daughter in the house. Oct. 15, 2017
The side door and entrance to the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
Prior to the Civil War, the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina, was maintained by slaves who were carriage drivers cooks, footmen, gardeners, laundresses, nursemaids, and seamstresses. A post Civil War document reveals the names of 14 slaves that lived at the Aiken-Rhett House and attended the family. In the center is the back of the main house, to the left is the kitchen and slave quarters and to the right is the stable and coach house. Oct. 15, 2017
The back lot of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina, is where the slaves worked and lived, and they probably took their meals communally in this kitchen. Oct. 15, 2017
The slaves used these stairs towards the back of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina, to serve the family in the main house. Oct. 15, 2017
The hallway to the rooms of the slave quarters at the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. The slave quarters are said to be virtually untouched since the 1850s. The building and the rooms, which whole families would share, show the everyday realities of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked on the property. Oct. 15, 2017
The carriage house of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
Me standing on the back stairway entrance of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charlotte, South Carolina. Debra and I took a self-audio guided tour of the circa 1820 home that has been preserved, rather than restored. The building behind me is the original outbuilding that includes the slave quarters and kitchen. Oct. 15, 2017
The piazza/porch/veranda…whatever it might be called at the Aikens-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
The dining room area of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
The living room area of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
One of several chandeliers in the Aikens-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
Love the parks. This one is across the street from the Aikens-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017
More of the park that leads from the Aikens-Rhett House to the Charleston Visitors Center. Oct. 15, 2017
Love the houses. These are called “single houses,” that originated in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1730s. The sidewalk door is a formal entrance to the piazza (what I would call porch) while the actual front door is secluded from the street. The piazza normally overlooks a side garden where Charlestonians enjoy the cooling, offshore breezes. Oct. 15, 2017
The Vanderhorst Mansion, built around 1832 on Chapel Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Two sets of wrought iron stairs lead up to the piazza. Oct. 15, 2017
The Villa de la Fontaine on Wentworth Street in Charleston, South Carolina. This was a Bed and Breakfast but is now a private residence. Oct. 15, 2017
More Charleston, South Carolina, antebellum homes. Oct. 15, 2017
After completing our 10,000 steps for the day, Debra and I stopped at Fuel on Rutledge Avenue…it looks like a former service station…for dinner. I had the pork tacos, the house specialty, with plantains; Debra had the fried fish sandwich with sweet potato fries and we shared the chorizo queso appetizer. Oct. 15, 2017
The Fuel on Rutledge Avenue…it looks like a former service station…where Debra and I had dinner in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 15, 2017

The history of Charleston, South Carolina, runs deep. In the 1800s, it was one of the largest slave trading cities in the U.S. and though so very much has changed since then, the depth of present-day racially motivated hate sent a young white man to a Charleston black church to kill nine members during a Bible study class. Charleston, with its beautiful architecture, helpful smiling faces, and recognition of its role in America’s slave trade, still carries the racial scars of old that truly haven’t healed. But Charleston, for all its progress, still struggles…like so many U.S. cities with hate…pointless, lifeless hate. Yet as Debra and I do our exploring-and-learning-thing throughout the day, we both feel and know the goodness of Charleston and its people will prevail.

Although this current brick and stucco building of the Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) Church was constructed in 1891 on Calhoun Street in Charleston, South Carolina, the congregation came together in 1818 to form one of the oldest independent black congregations in the United States. Oct. 16, 2017
The Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, more commonly referred to as Mother Emanuel AME Church, was founded in 1818 by the Rev. Morris Brown. Since the white-dominated churches had increasingly discriminated against blacks in Charleston, Brown along with more than 4,000 black members of the city’s three Methodist churches followed him to create this new church. Oct. 16, 2017
The Emanuel A.M.E. Church and its members have a long history of worship and fighting for their rights. In 1822, Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s founders who bought his freedom from slavery, was implicated in a slave revolt plot. Vesey and five other organizers were executed on July 2, 1822 and over the following weeks, 30 more men were executed and others deported from the state. Their original church was burned down by a crowd of angry whites. After the congregation met underground for a period, it rebuilt the church after the Civil War. In reaction to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, in 1834 the white-run city of Charleston outlawed all-black churches. The A.M.E. congregation then met in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865. The activism continued when in March 1909, Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute and a national leader, spoke at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. And, at a 1962 church meeting, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Wyatt T. Walker of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were guest speakers, urging church members to register and vote. Oct. 16, 2017
On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed inside the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charlotte, South Carolina. The people killed were Reverent Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, and Daniel Simmons. The murderer, a then 21-year-old white male, was arrested shortly afterward, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Oct. 16, 2017
This wall art caught my eye before I even knew the meaning behind it. This is Clementa Pinckney. He was a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate and a senior pastor at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston. On June 17, 2015, 41-year-old Pinckney and eight church members were murdered in a mass shooting motivated by racial hate during an evening Bible study at Mother Emanuel. Nine days later, then U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy at Pinckney’s memorial. The quote on the wall art reads: “Across The South, We Have A Deep Appreciation Of History – We Haven’t Always Had A Deep Appreciation Of Each Other’s History.” Clementa C. Pinckney. Oct. 15, 2016
This sign hangs over Calhoun Street, close to the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, as a memorial to the Emanuel 9. Oct. 16, 2017
The Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and its congregation continues to persevere. Oct. 16, 2017

The thing I love about Charleston is that its old and what isn’t, looks it. And, old for me means character. Character in the architecture and character in the people who inhabit the architecture. And, that’s where Damon Fordham, an author, history professor and our own private tour guide, graciously shared the colorful tales of Charleston in his two hour walking tour called “Lost Stories of Black Charleston.”

Through Damon, I learned the roots of my favorite Broadway musical “Porgy and Bess” came to life by way of locals Samual Smalls and Maggie Barnes and a novel based on them that was written by DuBose Heyward called “Porgy.” From there George and Ira Gershwin created the opera and musical “Porgy and Bess.”

I was introduced to “Porgy and Bess” by the 1959 film version starring Sidney Poitier as Porgy; Dorothy Dandridge as Bess; Sammy Davis Jr. as Sportin’ Life; Brock Peters as Crown and Pearl Bailey as Maria. I’ve also seen the opera version and musical version a total of four times. I love “Porgy and Bess.”

Plus there’s the Dock Theater, the Old Slave Mart Museum, the City Market, Rainbow Row and more. Charleston bubbles with so much to see and do.

The exterior of the Dock Street Theater in the historic French Quarter neighborhood of downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Built in 1809 as the Planter’s Hotel with the wrought iron balcony and sandstone columns of the Church Street facade added in 1835. The hotel was converted to a theater in 1935. Oct. 16, 2017
The interior and stage at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina, set for the play, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” A number of notable persons worked and patronized the Planter’s Hotel…present day the Dock Street Theater including the noted 19th Century actor Junius Brutus Booth (father of Edwin and John Wilkes Booth). Robert Smalls, an African-American Civil War hero, was a waiter in the hotel’s dining room prior to the war. Oct. 16, 2017
Debra, along with our guide, history professor and author Damon Fordham and me inside the Dock Street Theatre on Church Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The main portion of the building was constructed around 1809 as the Planter’s Hotel and didn’t become a theater until 1935. Oct. 16, 2017
St. Philip’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina, with a horse drawn buggy transporting tourists down Church Street. Oct. 16, 2017
On the second floor of this Church Street building in Charleston, South Carolina, author DuBose Hayward heard and wrote the story of Samuel Smalls, a handicapped African American beggar who used a wagon and a goat to get around in Charleston. Add to that Smalls volatile romance with Maggie Barnes and you have the makings of a Charleston waterfront Catfish Row story. In comes Hayward’s 1925 “Porgy” story and thereafter American composer George and lyricist brother Ira Gershwin adopted the book into the American folk opera and musical called “Porgy and Bess.” Oct. 16, 2017
Alphonso Brown, owner and operator of Gullah Tours in Charleston, South Carolina is also the author of “A Gullah Guide to Charleston: Walking Through Black History.” The two hour bus tour was full of history, stories and Gullah language lessons. The photo on the monitor is Sammy Smalls, a handicapped beggar whose goat-drawn cart was his means of transportation, is said to be the person  the character of Porgy is based on. “Porgy and Bess” tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston, South Carolina, and his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin’ Life, her drug dealer. Add to that Smalls’ volatile romance with Maggie Barnes and you have the makings of a Charleston waterfront Cabbage Row, re-named Catfish Row in the story DuBose Heyward wrote. Oct. 17, 2017
Damon Fordham, an author, history professor and our tour guide through the “Lost Stories of Black Charleston,” is pointing to the Dubose Heyward House being designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
It’s Catfish Row, a fictitious black tenement on the waterfront of Charleston, South Carolina. “Porgy and Bess” tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston, South Carolina, and his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin’ Life, her drug dealer. Oct. 16, 2017
Although this is now private property, this alleyway is what the fictions “Catfish Row,” of “Porgy and Bess” is based on in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
The Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street in Charleston, South Carolina, was known in the mid-1800s to slave traders who came to buy and sell enslaved African Americans. An 1856 city ordinance prohibited the practice of public sales of slaves which resulted in a number of sales rooms, yards, or marts along Chalmers, State and Queen Streets. One of these belonged to Thomas Ryan, an alderman and former sheriff. Ryan’s Mart, now the Old Slave Mart, occupied the land between Chalmers and Queen Street, and contained three additional buildings–a four-story brick tenement building with offices and “barracoon” (slave jail in Portuguese) where slaves were held before sales, a kitchen and a morgue. The slave market was open between 1856 to 1865. Oct. 16, 2017
The entrance to the Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Photos are not allowed inside the museum. Oct. 16, 2017
Although photographs are not allowed inside of the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charlotte, South Carolina, the first floor of the museum provides information about the slave auctions which were held inside this room. Oct. 16, 2017
On the second floor of the Old Slave Mart Museum is the Schoenberg Museum’s traveling exhibit of “Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery.” Oct. 16, 2017
Tons of books and resources at the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
The sign outside the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
The Pink House on Chalmers St. in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the oldest buildings in South Carolina and is the second oldest residence in Charleston after the Aiken-Rhett House. The Pink House was built between 1694 and 1712 of pinkish Bermuda stone by John Breton in the city’s French Quarter. Oct. 16, 2017
The cobblestone Chalmers Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
The City Market is a historic market complex in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Established in the 1790s, the market stretches four city blocks from the architecturally-significant Market Hall, which faces Meeting Street, through a continuous series of one-story market sheds, the last of which terminates at East Bay Street. Throughout the 19th century, the market provided a convenient place for area farms and plantations to sell beef and produce. Oct. 16, 2017
The City Market in Charleston, South Carolina, stretches for 1,240 feet through a continuous series of sheds oriented east-to-west, and flanked by North Market Street on the north side and South Market Street on the south side. And, in the middle are various vendors selling a variety of items in the sheds. Oct. 16, 2017
The City Market’s vendors in Charleston, South Carolina, sell souvenirs and other items ranging from jewelry to Gullah sweetgrass baskets.Oct. 16, 2017
A horse drawn buggy taking tourists around the City Market area in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
The artwork on one of the City Market sheds oriented east-to-west, and flanked by North Market Street on the north side and South Market Street on the south side in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
The City Market in Charleston, South Carolina, stretches for 1,240 feet through a continuous series of sheds oriented east-to-west, was established in the 1790s and stretches four city blocks. Oct. 16, 2017
The name Rainbow Row was coined after the buildings were painting these pastel colors during the renovations of the 1930s and 1940s in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
These beauties are a series of 13 colorful historic houses called Rainbow Row on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017
Rainbow Row’s pastel colored Georgian row houses in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 16, 2017

This was our last day full day in Charleston, South Carolina, and we did it up right. We spent our morning on a Gullah Bus Tour getting more Charleston history lessons and our afternoon on a culinary tour where we stuffed our faces with some mighty good Charleston cuisine.

Between Alphonso Brown, our Gullah Tour guide and bus driver, and Glenn our eat, drink and be merry culinary tour guide, Debra and I had quite a fulll and enjoyable day. Brown is the author of “A Gullah Guide to Charleston: walking Through Black History,” and Glenn’s credentials are substantial…he let us know that all he’s done for the past seven years is eat and drink in Charleston…so who better to guide us thru the food scene.

Goodbye Charleston, South Carolina. Tomorrow we make our way two hours down the road to Savannah, Georgia. See you there.

It’s the “Welcome” gate outside the Charleston Visitor’s Center, is one of several gates in Charleston created by Charleston’s own Philip Simmons. Described as a poet of ironwork, I got to learn more on the Gullah Tour about who this humble man was and how his work graced the gates of many homes. Simmons (1912-2009) began an apprenticeship at age 13, and was a full-fledged blacksmith by 18. During his career, Simmons work can be seen on more than 500 gates, fences, columns, window grills and other works. Oct. 15, 2017
The Philip Simmons Children’s Garden, a revitalization project in the heart of the Eastside community in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a peaceful haven for children and adults in an urban setting. Simmons fashioned more than five hundred decorative pieces of ornamental wrought iron: gates, fences, balconies, and window grills. Oct. 18, 2017
The Philip Simmons Children’s Garden, a revitalization project in the heart of the Eastside community in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a peaceful haven for children and adults in an urban setting. Simmons fashioned more than five hundred decorative pieces of ornamental wrought iron: gates, fences, balconies, and window grills. Oct. 17, 2017
The Philip Simmons heart gate at St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church at 91 Anson Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
No, the large home to the front is not the home of Philip Simmons in Charleston, South Carolina, but the quaint cottage to the back is. Oct. 17, 2017
The quaint cottage home of Philip Simmons in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 18, 2017
The Philip Simmons Children’s Garden, a revitalization project in the heart of the Eastside community in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a peaceful haven for children and adults in an urban setting. This life-sized bronze statue of Simmons is on display at the garden. Oct. 18, 2017
The Philip Simmons Children’s Garden, a revitalization project in the heart of the Eastside community in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a peaceful haven for children and adults in an urban setting. This life-sized bronze statue of Simmons is on display at the garden. Oct. 18, 2017
Debra and I with Alphonso Brown, the owner, operator and our Gullah Tours guide, of Charleston, South Carolina. Brown’s two hour bus tour was full of history, stories and Gullah language lessons. Oct. 17, 2017
Our meeting spot and first food stop today was for some delicious Bar-B-Que at Cumberland Smokehouse on Cumberland Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
Glenn, our food tour guru, gave us some good information on how this delicious food at Cumberland Smokehouse on Cumberland Street in Charleston, South Carolina was made but to be honest, I was so hungry, all I heard was…smoke pit in the back…but I did hear about the food. Wings, pulled pork, pulled chicken, home made pork rinds, potatoes fried in duck fat, cole slaw and potato salad. Oct. 17, 2017
Our second stop was Carmello’s on Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina, for a Southern BLT (bacon, lettuce & tomato). Oct. 17, 2017
This is the Southern BLT at Carmello’s on Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina, that includes the traditional bacon, lettuce and tomato, plus sandwich on Jack Nicholson bread. Yes, the actor Jack Nicholson loves this bread. And, I agree. This was a nice slant on a traditional BLT. Oct. 17, 2017
Our third stop turned out to be the one that put me in a very happy food coma, Poogen’s Porch on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
The first thing to reach the table at Poogen’s Porch on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina, was this moist and delicious cornbread. Then came the Mac and Cheese. It was all so good that I had extras which meant I was pretty full. Oct. 17, 2017
So, after I had seconds on the cornbread and the mac n’ cheese, here comes our culinary guide Glenn with fried chicken with a kick butt dipping sauce, collard greens and sliders at Poogen’s Porch on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
Debra and I with other members of our culinary tour group trying to figure out how we’re going to consume this delicious food at Poogen’s Porch on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
Glenn, our culinary tour guide, giving us more good advice on where to eat in Charleston and taking us to our fourth restaurant, Oyster House on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
Fried oyster sliders at the Oyster House on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oysters…still not my favorite, but I did try it…and it’s still not my favorite. Oct. 17, 2017
And, our last stop on the culinary tour, was Kaminsky’s on Market Street in Charleston, South Carolina, for dessert. Oct. 17, 2017
These are the treats that attack you just as you come through the front door at Kaminsky’s on Market Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
And, this is what I love about Charleston, South Carolina, you can get your delicious desserts even at a bar like Kaminsky’s on Market Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Oct. 17, 2017
And, this delicious chocolate and pecan beauty, which Debra and I had to get it to go from Kaminsky’s on Market Street in Charleston, South Carolina, because we were so full. Oct. 17, 2017
Then after a full meal, Charleston has many methods of transportation, like these buggy and donkey rides. Oct. 17, 2017
What about a taxi-bicycle ride? Oct. 17, 2017
Or maybe renting a bike and doing the peddling for yourself? Oct. 17, 2017
No matter what mode of transportation you use, even a horse and buggy ride, Charleston has something for everyone. Oct. 17, 2017