Interview with Eduardo (Ed) Curry, who lives in the Eastside neighborhood and is the Central Manager of the St. Julian Devine Community Center. As a third-generation Charlestonian, Mr. Curry reflects on his roots in Charleston. He details how his passion for education and criminal justice was largely shaped by the experiences of his father, an attorney and former police officer. Mr. Curry gives an in-depth overview of his work at the St. Julian Devine, a central hub within the Eastside community, where he has facilitated after-school and summer care programs, coordinated enrichment programs for adults, and expanded educational opportunities for the children he serves. In the near future, Mr. Curry wants to transform St. Julian Devine to a cultural arts center. He expresses that he wants to empower the people of his community through education to ensure that their roots are emboldened in Charleston. Mr. Curry offers his perspective on diversity, as his family is multi-racial, and wants to ensure that children of all backgrounds are offered the same chances to express themselves through his community center.
Interview with Edward (Ed) Jones, an Eastside community advocate and city employee. As a leader, coach, and lifetime resident of the Eastside, Jones has helped shape the Eastside's youth and community for much of his life. He describes his childhood experiences moving to various locations in the Eastside and his working experience as an all-around sports coach, general contractor, mentor, organizer, and, currently, a community resource specialist for the City of Charleston. Jones never saw himself serving the community for as long as and in the manner that he does today, but after nearly three decades of work and a lifetime of experiences, he's continued to show up. He touches on the inequities and changes he's seen within his locale, including those in the public housing realm, recreation, and issues of policing and safety. In addition to his day-time job, Coach Jones is also the founder of the Concerned Citizens of the Peninsula/Lowcountry, or CCPLC, a grassroots organization with the intention of helping kids and communities in the Eastside and greater Charleston area. Jones makes it clear that all he does and wants to do is inspired by his own experiences, especially those growing up and living within the Eastside. He has a vision of a healthy and vibrant community that supports itself, works together, and offers all children the same opportunities regardless of family, race, or class.
Interview with Marcus McDonald, who is the activist leader of Charleston Black Lives Matter and a local substitute teacher. He shares his experience moving from Columbia to Charleston for college as a young, black male. He learned the power words and communication hold at a young age, as both of his parents were deaf and he would often have to speak up for them. Mr. McDonald gives insight on how racial tensions shaped his education at the College of Charleston and how these circumstances led to his passion for advocacy and equity. He details the roadblocks to equity, as well as the ways he has used his personal power to help community members surmount them. In a seminal period of Charleston's history, Mr. McDonald hopes to see the various centers of the Eastside prosper, and cautions the rapid gentrification of the area.
Interview by Valerie Perry of Arthur Lawrence who lives in Charleston's West Side. Mr. Lawrence reminisces about growing up on the West Side when it was primarily an African-American community. He recalls day-to-day life in the West Side, referring to businesses, grocery and corner stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels/boarding houses. He also talks about the changes to both Charleston and the West Side community and reflects on gentrification, segregation, integration, housing, and heirs' rights, about the roles of hotels for African-American visitors during segregation. Mr. Lawrence, who was president of the neighborhood association for 20 years, worked with Mayor Riley and the Chief of Police on efforts to improve the community. He discusses the efforts and its successes. He also touches upon the importance of the church in the community. Grants from both the South Carolina Humanities Commission and the Employees Community Fund of Boeing allowed HCF to proceed with this initiative and several oral history interviews have been conducted that focus on specific neighborhoods and the changes these residents have experienced over time.
Interview by April Wood of Erica and Dan Lesesne who purchased their home on Warren Street in 1989 from Historic Charleston Foundation through its Home Ownership Program (revolving fund). They are now some of the longest-term residents in the neighborhood in Radciffborough. The Lesesnes talk about the changes they have observed in the neighborhood including the demographics. For example, there had been many more older families who lived in there but they have moved out, and also are fewer African-American families than there used to be. They also describe the neighborhood as eclectic, which appealed to them. They discuss their experience purchasing the house from HCF and how they appreciate that it is protected by a covenant. They reminisce about Charleston architect Randolph Martz and also about Robert Ballard, who was the president of the neighborhood association and very involved in civic affairs. The Lesesnes also discuss their backgrounds. Mrs. Lesesne was an English teacher at Porter Gaud and an acting teacher. They also talk about spearheading an effort to preserve the family cemetery on Daniel Island. Grants from both the South Carolina Humanities Commission and the Employees Community Fund of Boeing allowed HCF to proceed with this initiative and several oral history interviews have been conducted that focus on specific neighborhoods and the changes these residents have experienced over time.
Interview of Jane P. de Butts (formerly known as Jane Hanahan), a direct descendant of General Pinckney and niece of Josephine Pinckney. In this interview, she discusses her and her first husband's families and the circumstances of their move from Richmond to 43 East Bay, where they lived and raised a family. She speaks about her daily life at 43 East Bay Street and Charleston in general: raising a family, socializing, recreation including summers at the Isle of Palms, Hurricane Hugo, and her association with Historic Charleston Foundation as a trustee and later as its first woman President. She discusses memorable HCF efforts such as the purchase and restoration of the Missroon House, acquisition of McLeod Plantation, and the Revolving Fund, and comments on how Charleston has changed over the years, specifically the changes brought on by tourism. She also speaks about each of her now grown children, one of whom (Anne), now lives in the George Summers House with her family.
Interview of Evangelyon H. Rainsford, also known as Vangie Rainsford. Ms. Rainsford has lived in Charleston her entire adult life. She recounts her experience purchasing her home on Chapel Street, which she fell in love with immediately. She rehabilitated the house and decorated the interior with antiques. Ms. Rainsford has been an active neighborhood leader and has been the neighborhood president of Mazyck Wraggborough for several decades. She discusses the creation of the Garden District in the neighborhood and the establishment of the triangle park on Chapel and Elizabeth Street, including where the fountain was found. The changing character of Charleston and the neighborhood were also discussed.
Richard Brown is native to Sol Legare and was born "just off of Mosquito Beach" in 1953. Mr. Brown's family farmed and they sold their produce in the Market in downtown Charleston. He took a three minute walk from his house to Mosquito Beach on the weekends with friends. He described the different experiences for children, teens and adults- saying that elders told kids to "stay with your equals." He recounts starting work in the oyster business with Irving Singleton when he was aged six or seven. He collected and shucked around 16-18 bushels of oyster a day from Kings Flats. He details the harvesting process and how the Sol Legare area historically had an abundance of seafood and fresh produce. He talks too about the hard work and self-sufficiency of the residents and their strict parenting techniques. He also relates stories about Joe Chavis and his wife Middie.
"Bill" Saunders was born in New York City in 1935 but was raised on John's Island by his mother's family. He talks about the inter-connectedness and self-sufficiency of the Sea Islands, particularly John Island, James Inland and Wadmalaw Island. He talks about the importance of Mosquito Beach to the African American community. He recognizes the work of Bill "Cubby" Wilder and Laura and Andrew "Apple" Wilder in particular for the successes of Mosquito Beach. He says of Mosquito Beach, "...that's the place I was free." He reminisces about his lifetime of work in the struggle for human rights, including the Charleston Hospital Strike, and earlier violent racist episodes on Johns Island. Finally, Mr. Saunders recounts some experiences from his days with WPAL radio and he talks a bit about the music scene at Mosquito Beach.
Bill "Cubby" Wilder was born in Charleston in 1940 and perhaps more than anyone else, has championed the revitalization of Mosquito Beach and has safeguarded its history. As a child, people called the area "The Factory" for the old oyster factory that was located there. His father, mother and aunt all worked at the factory. Mr. Wilder also recounts how Joe "Kingpin" Chavis had a store where he would sell seafood and other items to beach visitors. Wilder also explains some of the connections between various families like the Lafayette's and Wilders and talks of how his uncle Apple Wilder built the Harborview Pavilion in 1953 and how other clubs and businesses followed suit. Hurricane Gracie in 1959 did a great deal of damage and destroyed the first pavilion. Mr. Wilder talks about the popularity of Mosquito Beach in context with other poplar Black entertainment spots and how people were drawn here from a large geographic area. He talks about the long journey to Atlantic Beach. He describes the dating scene as the "bird and the bees" and relates his memories of moonshine and bootlegging in the area. Wilder talks too about how Mosquito Beach was a safe haven during segregation and recounts that the Pine Tree hotel was open from 1962 to 1989 when it was wrecked by Hurricane Hugo. He also discusses the recent past and the future for Mosquito Beach.