A blog post by Ramon Jackson
Established through the passage of a joint resolution by the SC General Assembly in May 1993, the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC) identifies and promotes the preservation of African American historic sites and enhances the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH) to document and educate the general public about the rich history and culture of African Americans in the Palmetto State.
Since its inception, the SCAAHC has partnered with historians, community associations, and State Historic Preservation Office staff to increase the number of African American historic sites recognized with either historical markers or listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of national historic structures. In 1993, only 36 African American historic sites had markers or were listed on the National Register. Today, as a result of the Commission’s tireless advocacy and collaboration with its partners, more than 300 sites have been commemorated.
The Commission’s efforts have led to significantly greater appreciation for the vital role played by African Americans in the development of our state. In 2001, Governor Hodges issued an executive order establishing the former Council as a state commission. The SCAAHC has also received numerous local, state, and national awards. Three of our longest tenured members—Michael Allen, Dr. Barbara Jenkins, and Jannie Harriot—were awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, at our 25th Anniversary Gala in April 2019.
The SCAAHC continues its mission to educate the general public about the rich history and culture of African Americans in South Carolina by developing a variety of publications for educators, students, tourists, entrepreneurs, and other audiences. Among them are:
- A Teacher’s Guide to African American Historic Places in South Carolina, a volume of lesson plans based on existing South Carolina social studies standards intended to help teachers incorporate African American history into the curriculum.
- Integrating the Arts into Classroom Instruction, a digital publication that includes lesson plans to help teachers incorporate African American art and cultural traditions into the curriculum.
- The Business of Rural Heritage, Culture and Art: An Introductory Resource Guide for Entrepreneurs, a user-friendly guide that lists SC agencies and organizations that provide technical expertise, funding, and support for entrepreneurs in rural and African American heritage, culture, and the arts.
Perhaps our most significant publication is The Green Book of South Carolina, an online mobile guide to African American historic and cultural sites across South Carolina. An homage to the original Negro Travelers’ Green Book, a segregation-era travel booklet for black travelers, this interactive guide features over 300 historic sites and exciting cultural experiences to encourage residents and travelers to become immersed in the compelling story of African Americans in our state.
Armed with limited funding and a roster of passionate volunteers, the SCAAHC remains committed to its founding mission. As we celebrate our accomplishments, we express gratitude to our partners and pledge to honor the memory of those who came before by empowering communities to preserve their places in history.
The African American Heritage Commission can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @SCAAHC1993 and can also be found as @GreenBookofSC on Twitter.