Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley was born in the city on June 9, 1943. After graduating from The Citadel (1964), he attended the University of South Carolina’s School of Law (1967). He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1968 to 1974 before being elected Mayor of Charleston in December 1975. He has served 10 terms. Inthe following interview with Citadel Cadet Steven Foster, Riley reflects on the City’s disaster preparations for Hurricane Hugo in September 1989. The Mayor recalls that his main concerns were to encourage citizens to evacuate and to provide for those who needed shelter after the storm. Hunkered down in City Hall with other City employees, they listened anxiously as the metal roof was torn from the building and flung across the street. After the storm, which was among the most destructive to hit the United States, Riley worked closely with political, business, and civic leaders to revive the region’s economy and repair its badly damaged infrastructure.
This interview is part of the COHP's “Charleston and the Long Civil Rights Movement” series. These interviews explore how community activism continues to shape modern life in the South. The digital recordings and transcripts are part of The Citadel Oral History Program Collection at The Citadel Archives & Museum.