A Blog Post by Ramon Jackson
As Black History Month draws to a close, I have been thrilled to answer numerous requests for book lists, digital resources, and information about opportunities to celebrate African American history throughout the year. The rich, complex, and sometimes difficult story of the Black experience requires lifelong study and introspection. Black History Month is simply an important opportunity for new and seasoned students to refresh their memories or learn something new. By no means should the dawn of March mark the end of one’s intellectual and spiritual journey.
Researching family history is an excellent way for everyday citizens to learn local history and intimately connect one’s past to the broader narrative of their hometowns. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History offers a variety of sources for those interested in African American genealogy including pre and post Emancipation records from all 46 counties, historical newspapers, periodicals, and free access to genealogical databases such as Ancestry and Family Search. Nervous about getting started? If so, check out the recently revised edition of Sources for African American Genealogical Research at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, now available on the Agency website. The new guide contains information about how to begin genealogical research, tips on research strategies, offers further details about available primary documents. Once you have a research plan, feel free to submit a research request using the Genealogy Request Form.
The WeGOJA Foundation and South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC) will continue their outstanding work preserving and promoting our state’s rich African American heritage throughout the coming year. In March, they will celebrate Women’s History Month by honoring outstanding African American women from South Carolina in nearly every field imaginable. Follow the SCAAHC and WeGOJA Foundation to learn more about these incredible trailblazers!
On Friday, April 9, 7-9pm, the SCAAHC will host its annual Preserving Our Places in History Awards, an exciting virtual ceremony to recognize excellence in African American historic preservation. Do you know an individual, group or organization who has made outstanding achievements in African American cultural or historic preservation in our state? Consider nominating them for an award. Nomination forms must be submitted on the WeGOJA Foundation website: https://www.wegoja.org/2020awards-nomination-form. The deadline for nominations is March 1, 2021. Registration to attend the virtual event is now open! Visit https://wegoja.networkforgood.com/events/26912-preserving-our-places-in-history-lest-we-forget to reserve your ticket today! Space is limited.
Lastly, the SCAAHC’s incredible mobile guide The Green Book of South Carolina continues to connect diverse audiences with African American history and culture in the Palmetto State. Over 400 African American historic sites, buildings, structures as well as museums and cultural attractions can be found on the website for independent study, classroom use and, when the situation permits, planning tours, family reunions and other excursions. Visitors can access select themed tours featuring homes, businesses, churches and other sites that tell fascinating stories about South Carolina’s Reconstruction, Civil Rights, and modern Black history. Take the opportunity to learn about the bravery and courage exhibited by Levi Pearson, Rev. J.A. DeLaine, Harry and Eliza Briggs and countless residents of Orangeburg and Clarendon counties who stood together to fight for educational equality and a better future for their children in “Separate is NOT Equal: The Briggs v. Elliott Tour .” Read about the contributions of African Americans in science and technology on the “Flights of Fancy” tour. Or visit important sites in your own backyard! There is something for everyone!
These programs are just the tip of the iceberg! Stay tuned for information about the SCAAHC’s ongoing statewide survey of extant Green Book sites and the latest news about Black Carolinians Speak, their invaluable oral history initiative on our ongoing public health crisis. They also have several exciting lectures and public programs on the horizon. Please take advantage of these and other opportunities to explore and celebrate South Caroilna’s African American heritage beyond this month. If you would like to discuss potential sites to add to our Green Book website, commemorate through the State Historical Marker and National Register programs, or would like to be added to the Commission listserv, please feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.