We’re halfway through Black History Month, but there are still plenty of events across the Upstate celebrating the achievements of our African American citizens, bringing to light little-known pieces of history, and not shying away from the fact that there is still work to be done to achieve racial equity.
As part of Black History Month, Greenville News is commemorating the 50th anniversary of school desegregation in Greenville County through February 17th with a series of articles that you should definitely check out for a variety of perspectives on that momentous occasion.
Aside from events that are happening this month, the South Carolina Office of Tourism offers the Green Book of South Carolina, created by the S.C. African American Heritage Commission, with more than 300 African American heritage sites across the state, from historic churches and schools to museums and historic districts. Users can search by category, by map, or by a list of locations, or they can choose themed tours.
African American Heritage Sites
Here in the Upstate, there are plenty of heritage sites listed in the Green Book of SC, but a couple that are definitely worth a visit are the Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum in Seneca and the Benjamin Mays Historic Site in Greenwood.
Completed in 2015, the Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum, named for the woman whose property was purchased for the museum, was conceived to tell the story of African Americans in Oconee County and around South Carolina. The motto of the museum is “Honoring the Past—Elevating the Future,” and the mission, in part, is to “honor the lives, accomplishments, contributions, diversity, and struggles of African Americans and their ancestors.”
The current exhibit at the museum is “521 All-Stars: A Championship Story of Baseball and Community,” based on the book of the same name, chronicling the Gamecock baseball league of Rembert, SC, made up of African American players. (For more about black baseball leagues, check out The Other Boys of Summer, a film that is being screened in various locations in Spartanburg on February 17th-18th.)
Benjamin Mays, the 6th president of HBCU Morehouse College, was born to sharecroppers in Epworth, in southern Greenwood County. From those humble beginnings, he went on not only to a career in higher education, but also to distinguish himself as a Civil Rights leader. His childhood home was moved from Epworth to Greenwood, where it is part of the Benjamin E. Mays Historic Preservation Site. The other buildings on the site include a museum with photographs and collections of Mays’ writings and speeches and the original Burns Springs one-room African American school, also from Epworth.
Check out our calendar for more Black History Month events across the Upstate!