Thursday, July 11, 2013

Do not miss 'Coming Home Without Shackles!'

Visit:  Kuntah Kinteh Island Movie website and Join on Facebook and Twitter!

150th Anniversary of Battles of Fort Wagner and Sol Legare

 Seashore Farmers' Lodge No. 767, located at corner of Sol Legare Rd and Old Sol Legare Rd on
 James Island, south of Charleston, South Carolina. A sign on the premises indicates that it is now 
operated as a museum and cultural center.  Photo by Ammodramus taken 14 September 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 150th Anniversary Celebration of The Battle of Sol Legare and The Battle of Battery Wagner at Seashore Farmers’ Lodge Museum and Cultural Center at Sol Legare

JULY 15–JULY 16, 2013 at 1840 Sol Legare Road Charleston, SC
Two years following a massive restoration and in conjunction with the encampment reenactment of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment Co. I in anticipation of their first fight at Battle of Ft. Wagner (c. 1863), The Seashore Farmers’ Lodge Museum and Cultural Center invites visitors to join us and view the exhibits, relics and progress on this once dilapidated, century-old structure.

July 15th: Dusk 
Outdoor viewing of the movie “Glory” - Campfire and Weenie Roast, living history, viewing of Glory

July 16th: 10 AM until 5 PM
The all-day event will run from 10-5 and feature a series of reenactments, food and skits; the presentation of an award of merit Ms. Georgette Mayo of the Confederation of SC Local Historical Societies and The Avery Center; and the unveiling of a period piece privy – constructed as a community project by Eagle Scout, Joel Milliken and his troop.

July 14-July 21: 
The Seashore Farmers’ Lodge will be opened to this visiting from all over to hold encampments. For more information on reservations and dates scheduled, please email or call us.

150 years ago, the area now known as The Sol-Legare Community was actually a plantation held by the Solomon Legare Family of Charleston. During the Civil War, (1861-1865) Solomon Legare’s plantation was the site of several camps, artillery positions, and battles. On July 16, 1863, one of America’s first African American Army Regiments organized in the North and was led by Union General Alfred Terry. During the Battle of Sol-Legare, the troops bravely risked their lives to win the freedom of enslaved Africans who were held in bondage there and on numerous plantations throughout the south – 14 men lost their lives, 17 wounded, and 13 missing. The island was a center point to many battles fought in the area and at one point housed 5200 Federal troops. Additionally, the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment camped on grounds near the Lodge prior to marching down Old Sol-Legare Road to fight at Battery Wagner. The Sol-Legare area is rich with Civil War history and its historical happenings.

The museum opened on April 16, 2011 and focuses on Coastal African American communities at the turn of the century ranging from The Civil War to present. The museum will feature several living history presentations, encampments and be open to the public for the viewing of artifacts. The soldiers will be dressed in period clothing and will conduct several skits and interactive sessions with visitors. The women of the 54th Massachusetts will be on hand as well, dressed in period clothing and hosting stories.

The museum is located off of Folly Road down Sol Legare Road on the right. For more information, please call Hope Brown at 843.437.1259, email:, or visit our website at

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

McGill, special guest at 9th annual African American Family History Workshop

Joseph McGill, Jr, of The Slave Dwelling Project, will be this year's special guest at the 9th Annual African American Family History Workshop sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Spartanburg Community College Student Life organization on February 1st and 2nd.

Everyone is being encouraged to register by January 25th.  

To register: Call (864) 439-8716 or email 

Find class descriptions & more at 

This event is free and open to the public.  A free lunch will also be provided.

Please make note that on Friday everyone meet at the Spartanburg County Library at 7 pm and on Saturday at 8:30 am at the Tyger River Campus.  See the flyer below for complete details.

To learn more about the 2013 schedule for The Slave Dwelling Project, see Joseph McGill, Jr, shares The Slave Dwelling Project stays in 2013.

To learn more about  The Slave Dwelling Project in 2013 see:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Birth home, family, and quotes

This is the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on 501 Auburn Ave, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born on Jan 15, 1929.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS [or HAER or HALS], 
Reproduction number [e.g., "HABS ILL, 16-CHIG, 33-2 "]

"We must use time creatively." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Front Room:
Front Room Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS [or HAER or HALS], 
Reproduction number [e.g., "HABS ILL, 16-CHIG, 33-2 "] (

The 1940 Census lists the Martin family with Martin's maternal grandmother living with them.  

"United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 
15 Jan 2013), Martin L King in household of Marvin L King, Ward 5, Atlanta, Atlanta City, 
Fulton, Georgia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 160-241, sheet 13B, family 268, 
NARA digital publication T627, roll 733.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't 
see the whole staircase." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

501 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, Fulton County, GA 

Martin Luther King, Jr in 1964.
Source: Wikipedia
Library of Congress. 

New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Living free of false perceptions

December 4, 2012 marked the two year anniversary of About Our Freedom.  This was the place I created to reflect upon the freedom of African Americans and whether we have embraced freedom to the fullest extent.  I have learned firsthand that we need not be held hostage by the false percepts in the minds of others; we can freely plot our course past them.

In the months leading up to my decision to create this blog, I was deep within my own family history research.  One person asked me this question which I answered boldly:

"So, you are PROUD of your race?" 

I have analyzed that question countless times.  The word race was never one that invoked the kind of feelings like the term I use for my people:  family (or heritage).  My ancestors come in different colors. I have applied the same efforts in identifying each one. There are some of every shade in my family today.  They are mostly lawyers, doctors, judges, teachers, and other professions.  They love each other, and they love to serve each other.

My concept of family goes beyond this to include every person of the human family on the face of this earth without regard to color, religion, or ethnicity, but I realize the question asked of me pertained to my being an African American.  There is implied an element of surprise or curiosity that I would have some feelings other than shame.

Unfortunately, these experiences are not few or far between, and they serve a purpose for me.  Of course, the purpose for me is not to attempt to reason or to try to persuade the heart or mind of another.  Paradigm shifts are personal, and challenges will only cause you to be perceived as the one who brings offense.

No, this question has empowered me to work to make sure that the same false precept:

  •  does not limit the young school boy or girl left unchallenged by a teacher who believes it is not worth the effort to inspire to greater heights.
  •  does not shame a man or woman into having apathy toward members of the community whose problems could be eased by a kind word or deed.
  •  does not discourage us from researching, documenting, and preserving our history for future generations. 
Limitations are opportunities for us to learn and grow, and bear fruit in the lives of others who await our help. "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" are the words of Napoleon Hill.  In "Think and Grow Rich,"  he tells the story of his son who was born without ears and was told by doctors that he would never hear nor speak.  Blair grew to be able to both hear and speak, finished college, and went on to help other people who could not hear or speak.

Faith, or principles of action, help us to overcome all limitations - those that we have adopted as well as those that exist in the minds of others.  We must be aware of the false percepts that exist and steer around them, or we are not free.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Vital Speeches of the Day'

I began About Our Freedom two years ago hoping that on this journey I would be led to resources that would help us to define what freedom really means to us today and what we can do to embrace the fullest measure of it.  I just reviewed a nine page interview I conducted with my grandmother's first cousin who moved to Illinois from South Carolina in the 1940's.  It is a blessing to have family members from that time period who can tell us about our ancestors and other family members who lived long before we came along.

 I treasure all the recorded interviews that I have conducted and transcribed.  Each time I reflect back on them and take them out to listen or review, I feel so much more connected to my forebears. I never want to get so lost in the records that I forget that I can learn just as much from the stories that survived too.  Records are important, but not as important as the life lessons that were passed down through oral history.

My interviewees are full of so much wisdom and advice.  I know that the principles my ancestors lived by helped them to be happy and successful.  It is my lifelong task to keep recording and preserving as much as I can.

I have worked to pass these same values on to the next generation. People who do not share my heritage sometimes remark that it must be a great burden for my child to be put under so much responsibility.  I smirk inside when I consider what might have happened if my parents had somehow decided I did not need to be overburdened by expectations to do better than the generation before.  I am glad I belong to a family that set high values and expectations because I would not be the person I am today.  I wake up every day hoping to make myself and the world a better place.

In this interview from 2005, I was able to learn more details about my great great grandparent's and their children.  I always love asking what folks looked like and what they learned from the old sayings.

It is so rewarding to dive into records to try to document the things I learn from the oral history shared.  The interviews I have served me over and over as I turn to them to glean more information time after time.

This was no different with the interview of my grandmother Otis' cousin.  It was wonderful to hear the names of the different family groups in birth order. One of the questions I asked her was what her father, Pettis Chick, taught her.  She said she remembered him telling her to work hard and be obedient.

Then she mentioned her Uncle Clarence, my grandmother's uncle.  He  and his wife taught at Fayetteville Teacher's College in North Carolina (Fayetteville State University), and she said Uncle Clarence wrote to her and gave her some advice:  "Read your bible. Study your Negro history, and save your money."  I received that advice as if it had come to me directly from my ancestors.  My great uncle Clarence was taught well.

At the end of rereading the interview, I remembered a few years ago when I was coming through the Palmetto Leader on microfilm at the Richland Library.  I remember stopping to look at an article and a photo of C. A. Chick who was affiliated with Benedict College.  I remember feeling he was related to me, but I had no proof so I kept spinning the reel right past him.

That picture of C. A. Chick has stayed in my mind.  I learned through oral history that this branch of my family all attended Benedict College.  The person in the photograph I now know would have been Uncle Clarence.  I must go back to retrieve it because it will give us an idea of what he looked like before he moved to Fayetteville.

Uncle Clarence must have a really strong connection with me because I also stumbled upon a photo of him and his wife in two different yearbooks for Fayetteville on Ancestry.  The citation on the yearbook mentions Benedict College which leads me to believe I really did pass up that photo of him on microfilm.   I e-mailed the yearbook photos to my mother as a surprise, and this was her response:

"I went on the computer and found uncle Chick and his wife!  It brought tears to my eyes, because he was the one who wanted mom and dad to send me to North Carolina to go to college free.  He was a Professor there then.  I remember having met him in Union at one time when I was a kid, and Daddy took us to North Carolina to see them when we were little." - My Mom.

It seems that I must continue and gather the history that remains at Fayetteville State University. In the process of writing this article, I discovered there is a building there named after Uncle Clarence's  second wife: Helen T. Chick.  In addition to that, I discovered a speech given by Uncle Clarence:

Social and Moral Obligations of High School Graduates.  It appears in a periodical entitled Vital Speeches of the Day (8/15/59, Vol. 25 Issue 21, p658).

If that does not bring enough excitement to me, I discovered other resources in the process of writing this article, and I will be sharing my thoughts on each one after I have time to review them all.  

  • Which Way? Chick, C.A. // Vital Speeches of the Day;10/1/52, Vol. 18 Issue 24, p764 
    Presents the text of a speech given by C.A. Chick, professor of economics and U.S. government at State Teachers College, on May 18, 1952 which deals with the future of African-Americans in southern U.S.
  • Signs of Hope. Chick Sr., C.A. // Vital Speeches of the Day;9/15/54, Vol. 20 Issue 23, p724 
    Presents the text of a speech given by C.A. Chick Sr., professor of Economics and American Government at Fayetteville State Teachers College in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on July 27, 1954, which deals with the rise of nationalism in Africa.

The West's Changing Attitude Toward Africa

C. A. Chick, Sr.
The Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Spring, 1960), pp. 191-197
Published by: Journal of Negro Education
Article Stable URL:

Recent Southern Industrialization and its Implications for Negroes Living in the South

C. A. Chick, Sr.
The Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 22, No. 4 (Autumn, 1953), pp. 476-483
Published by: Journal of Negro Education
Article Stable URL:

 C. A. Chick
The Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring, 1947), pp. 172-179
Published by: Journal of Negro Education
Article Stable URL:

The Role of Higher Education in Transmitting Democratic Ideals Into Behavior Patterns

I am past words knowing that my quest has led me right back to Rev. C. A. Chick, my great uncle, and professor of economics and American History.  It makes me feel good to be able to do this work of keeping the causes of our loved ones alive.  We are all still connected when we can perform the tasks that make us so.  I like to think my Uncle Clarence has come to know me as I have come to know him, and I hope he is happy to see that I am following his admonition to "Study your Negro history."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Slave Dwelling Project recap and 2013 upcoming stays

Joseph McGill, Jr has released the places where he will take The Slave Dwelling Project in 2013.      These historical events are great places for descendants of former slaves and descendants of former slave holding families to meet and share facts and history.  Anyone who has an interest in following the progress of restoring the places vital to African American American history should follow the highlights from Mr. McGill.

To stay posted throughout 2013,  follow the blogs:   Lowcountry Africana and About Our Freedom.  "Like"  The Slave Dwelling Project on Facebook.  A like box is also down on the lower right column of this page. The following press release comes to you from Joseph McGill, Jr.  -  Robin Foster

Joseph McGill, Jr | Field Officer | Charleston Field Office
National Trust for Historic Preservation | William Aiken House l 456 King Street, 3rd Floor, Charleston, South Carolina 29403 |
Phone: 843-722-8552 | Fax: 843-722-8652 | | 

From Joseph McGill, Jr: 


Thirty nine overnight stays in extant slave dwellings is proof that the Slave Dwelling Project is doing well.  The year 2012 saw a lot of firsts for the project.  For the second consecutive year, a northern state was included in the project when I stayed at the Bush Holly House in Greenwich, Connecticut.   Mississippi was the tenth state added to the project when I participated in the Holly Springs Pilgrimage in Holly Springs, Mississippi.  The state of Georgia joined the project when I stayed in a slave cabin in Sautee Nacoochee.  Virginia was the twelfth state added to the project when I stayed at Bacon’s Castle in Surry.  Virginia also provided the opportunity for the first institution of higher learning to participate when I stayed at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia.  The first repeat visit was done at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  My collaboration with the group Coming To The Table was established when I joined them in Richmond, Virginia for their national gathering.  That relationship with Coming To The Table was further enhanced when members of the group joined me for overnight stays in the Bush Holly House in Greenwich, Connecticut; Bacon’s Castle in Surry, Virginia and Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia.

Slave Dwelling Project 2013

2013 will be just as exciting if not more.  I will get the opportunity to apply to all of the 2013 stays all that I have learned from the first stay which occurred at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC in May 2010, to the last stay that occurred at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, SC in November of 2012.  This knowledge will make for more robust programming associated with every stay and assist the public in recognizing extant former slave dwellings that may be hidden in plain view such as spaces currently used as guest houses, pool houses, garages, storage spaces, etc. More importantly, this knowledge will help the public in recognizing those extant slave dwelling that are in dire need of stabilization and restoration.

Hopsewee Plantation

The first scheduled stay, Hopsewee Plantation located on the North Santee River in Georgetown County, SC will be a repeat stay.  In addition to the public programs that will be provided, local school kids will compete via essays to decide those who will spend the night in the two slave cabins located at the site.   Additionally, this stay will be accompanied by a dinner and performances by storytellers Zenobia Washington and Sophia Jackson both of whom are natives of Georgetown, SC.

Laurelwood Plantation

Of all the stays scheduled for 2013, the one that I anticipate the most is Laurelwood Plantation in Eastover, SC because it is a true testament of why the project exists.  I was originally scheduled to stay there on April 15, 2011 but its dilapidated condition dictated that I pass on that opportunity.  The new owners Jackie and Jeremy Thomas vowed that the cabin would be restored along with the mansion.  The contractor rushed frantically to get the cabin in a state that was inhabitable for a stay that was to occur on November 3, 2012.  Unforeseen circumstances would not let that stay occur on that day.  The happy ending is that the cabin has been restored and the owners have granted me unlimited access for educational purposes.

Holly Springs, Mississippi Pilgrimage

The Holly Springs, Mississippi Pilgrimage will be a repeat.  In a program titled The Behind the Big House Tour, visitors will have the opportunity for the second consecutive year to tour the mansions and the slave dwellings.  This is a concept that I have been trying to get other well established historic house tours to adopt but they all seem to be content with only telling part of the story. The 2013 stay will also include a stay at Rowan Oaks, the former home of William Faulkner.

The Salisbury

The Salisbury, North Carolina stay will be my first stay there but my second stay in the state of North Carolina.  It will be special because it will coincide with Juneteenth.  When the emancipation proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, it meant nothing if there were no Federal troops in the area to enforce the document.  Federal troops did not reach Galveston, TX until June 19, 1865.  Commemorating this historic day of freedom has become a national event.

Old City Jail

July 18, 2013 is the sesquicentennial of the Assault on Battery Wagner on Morris Island, SC.  This Civil War battle was depicted in the 1989 award winning movie Glory, starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington.  Some of the African American men taken as prisoners during the battle were held in the Old City Jail in Charleston, SC.  In addition to commemorating the battle on Morris Island as African American reenactors have been doing for the past ten years, for the 150th anniversary we will spend the nights of July 18 – 20 in the Old City Jail. See Afrigeneas Forum: Civil War Prisoners in Charleston.

College of Charleston

For the second consecutive year an institution of higher learning will be among the places stayed.  That institution will be the College of Charleston which is located well within the city limits of Charleston, SC.  It is said that 40% of the African American population of the United States can trace their ancestry back to the port of Charleston, SC.  The College of Charleston stay and programs associated with it will provide the opportunity to interpret how institutions factored into chattel slavery in the United States.  This stay will also provide the opportunity to further interpret how slavery existed in urban areas.

Ossabaw Island

Abolishing the international slave trade in 1808 did not end the institution of slavery in the United States.  No longer did the slave ships deliver their cargo to the major ports such as Baltimore, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; or New Orleans, Louisiana but they still continued to deliver that cargo to more obscure places like the Sea Islands located off the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.    These islands make up the eastern most portion of the Gullah Geechee National Heritage Area Corridor. Ossabaw Island located off the coast of Georgia near Savannah was one of those islands.  The overnight stay on Ossabaw Island will be my first in a slave cabin on a Sea Island.  See:  Restoration and Interpretation of Tabby Cabins.

Historic St. Mary’s City

Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland will be my second stay in that state.  The first was Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood.  Quite surprisingly, this stay will happen as a result of a presentation that I gave at a public program at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.  The organizers of the Maryland stay were audience members and made the offer and I of course accepted.

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, SC will be a stay of opportunity.  The Assault on Battery Wagner, the battle depicted in the movie Glory will be reenacted at Boone Hall Plantation in 2013.  Although the battle historically took place on Morris Island which is located in the Charleston harbor, it is logistically impossible to reenact a battle there because you can only get there by boat.  While the reenactors sleep in there encampments, I will again inhabit the slave cabins.


For those of you who shared the slave dwelling experience with me in 2012 or in any prior year, you know the routine, you are welcome to participate in any future stay(s).  For those of you who have not shared the experience but would like to, please let me know as-soon-as-possible.  I must seek permission from the property owners for your participation.  I am especially interested in sharing the experience with descendants of the enslaved associated with the dwellings; descendants of slave owners; or descendants of a slave and a slave owner.  Whatever the category, all are welcome because the ultimate goal is to bring much needed attention to extant slave dwellings in the United States.

The Slave Dwelling Project 2013

Hopsewee, Georgetown, SC - Friday, March 1
Laurelwood Plantation, Eastover, SC - March 8 – 9
Pilgrimage, Holly Springs, Mississippi - Friday, April 12 – Sunday, April 14
Ossabaw Island, Georgia - Friday, May 10 – Saturday, May 11
Juneteenth, Slave Dwelling, Salisbury, NC - Friday, June 14 – Saturday, June 15
Old City Jail, Charleston, SC - July 18 – 21
College of Charleston - Wednesday, August 28
Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland - Sunday, September 22 – Tuesday, September 24
Boone Hall Plantation, Mt. Pleas., SC -  November 8 – 10
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