Joseph Kelly (b. 1962) describes his experience growing up in an Irish American family living in New Jersey and Texas. The only background information he knows of regarding his family is that his paternal great-grandfather was from Roscommon, and that he came over to New York City in the late 1890?s. Both of his parents grew up in Irish neighborhoods in the Bronx and were the first generation in the family to go to college. The family moved from New Jersey to Houston in the late seventies, and he notes that there was not a real sense of Irish ethnicity in Houston, as compared to what it was in the Northeast. He also notes that the sense of Irish culture, and celebration of Irishness, is growing in Charleston as a result of the public outreach he has done as Director of the Irish and Irish American Studies program at CofC.
Thomas Horan describes his experience growing up in an Irish American family in Boston. The paternal side of his family comes from County Galway, his paternal grandmother having come to the United States when she was sixteen, before Irish independence. His maternal grandmother married a man of Scotch-Irish descent. He was raised in the Catholic Church, as a result of what he refers to as an insistence on ?middle-class respectability,? and his family was close with some of the priests from the area, however, he is no longer an active participant in the Church. Though living in an area with a lot of Irish meant that the family didn?t experience any particularly significant discrimination, there was a sense of wanting to assimilate and move up into the middle class. He moved to the South in 1999, first to attend graduate school at Chapel Hill, and then to Charleston. He states that, in terms of anti-Irish or anti-Catholic sentiment in the South, there seems to be more continuity in population here than in northern cities, which perhaps makes things harder for new ethnic populations to integrate.
Anne Owens speaks about her experience growing up Irish American, having Irish ancestors on both sides of her family. She spent her childhood in California but moved to Charleston after her mother remarried. Her maternal grandmother?s family came from Anglo-Irish roots in County Offlay in the 1860?s, entering the U.S. in Boston and making their way to Michigan. Her paternal grandmother?s family was from County Fermanagh and came to the U.S. in the early 1800?s, through Georgetown, South Carolina, and eventually settled in Cheraw. It is through this side of the family that Anne is related to Patrick Lynch, who became Bishop of Charleston in 1855. Her great-great grandfather, James Thomas Lynch, married a woman from the Pinckney family, so Anne has deep family roots here in Charleston, as well as in Colleton County, where her great-great grandparents owned the Ashepoo Plantation. However, Anne also has a familial connection with her stepfather?s family, who are native Charlestonians, as her research has led her to discover that her biological father and her stepfather are in fact cousins, due to their shared Charleston roots. She feels a deep connection with the Shannon River area in Ireland, where her maternal ancestors had lived for centuries as landed gentry. Though she sees ethnic identity becoming less prominent as the years go on, she likes ?seeing America as an amalgamation of many, many people.?
William McCann speaks about his experience growing up as part of an Irish American and Italian American family in New York. While his great-great grandparents came to the United States from Longford and Wicklow in the 1850?s and took up blue-collar jobs, the family has little knowledge of family stories or memories from that time, as William?s paternal grandfather passed away when his father was in his teens. Because he had more contact with older relatives from his maternal, Italian, side during childhood, the majority of William?s experience of Irishness has been through relationships with his friends in New York, some who have parents that are native Irish. He feels that Irish identity is less prominent in the South, that there is less of a culture built around Irishness.
Michaela Henderson talks about her experience growing up in an Irish American family in Connecticut. Her great-grandmother came over from Valentia Island in the late 1800?s/early 1900?s and the family settled in the New Haven area. Her family relocated to Charleston her freshman year of high school and has lived in the area since then. While her family was very involved in an Irish organization in Connecticut, she feels that there is less of a centralized Irish American presence in Charleston, and that claiming a Southern identity seems more important here than claiming a specific ethnic background, such as Irish. However, she is hopeful that the situation seems to be changing, with more emphasis on ways to celebrate Irish heritage here in Charleston.
Stephen Gilroy talks about his experience growing up in an Irish American family in New York City and New Jersey. His grandparents came from County Leitrim, County Longford, County Cork, and County Waterford from the mid-1800?s to the very early 1900?s. All of his grandparents were in the working-class, as cabinet makers, butchers, dock-workers, and other blue-collar jobs. There wasn?t much focus on Irishness in his family while he was growing up, though he did have a strong relationship with an uncle who told him about all of the Irish families in the area. He?s been to Ireland with his family and has been to the church in County Leitrim where his paternal grandparents are from. He feels a connection with Ireland, which he describes as a ?magical? place. He and his wife moved to Charleston recently to be near their daughter, and he states that there is less of an emphasis on ethnic identity in Charleston, and more emphasis on a general Southern identity.
Melissa Moore (pronouns: They/Them) discusses their personal life and the various roles they played in numerous social causes and organizations, many being LGBTQ related. Born in Mt. Pleasant, SC, they identified as male, and, denied that self-expression, Moore details the impact it had on their school years and the numbing escape made possible by drugs and alcohol. In passing Moore also describes a run-in with religious demands at Vacation Bible School, and being exposed to, and fascinated by, female impersonators at an early age. At the College of Charleston, Moore joined such groups as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and the Women’s Forum, engaging intellectually and socially with new people and ideas. Coming to see that societal norms aid in controlling conformity and denying diversity, Moore was strongly affected by a billboard supporting LGBTQ rights put up by the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). That prompted them to begin volunteering, and eventually working, for AFFA under the direction of Warren Redman-Gress. Moore later went on to work with Linda Ketner and SC Equality to attempt to defeat the movement within the state of South Carolina to define marriage as between a man and a woman. That was unsuccessful. In the process, Moore came into contact with other organizations such as Southerners on New Ground and worked with activists including Mandy Carter and others, creating opportunities to learn grass root organizing skills and to work with groups like Africa House in Orangeburg, SC. Moore notes the reluctance or refusal of national and other LGBTQ organizations to fund work in the South, assuming it “unwinnable” and also speaks to the lack of funding for social service agencies in lieu of political ones. Working with the Abortion Access Project, later called Provide, gave Moore further experience and they eventually became director of We Are Family, an organization in Charleston for LGBTQ youth. Moore details how under their management and planning the organization and its programs grew. They describe the plan to fund the organization through the creation of a thrift store and Moore notes how three LGBTQ organizations in town, Charleston Pride, AFFA and We Are Family recently moved to the same building in North Charleston. After touching on subjects like transphobia, the new management of We Are Family, and naming many people in the field they admire, Moore finishes the interview describing their new position with the city of Mount Pleasant, working on sustainable and equitable city planning.
Jensen Cowan (pronouns: They/Them) was born July 4, 1997 in Brandon, Florida, and discusses growing up in Socastee, adjacent to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in an emotionally and verbally abusive home. They discuss chosen family and close friends, their relationship with their mother and four sisters in a blended family and what it meant to leave home to start a new life at the College of Charleston, with mentions of being in the Bonner Leadership Program there. Cowan describes the struggles of separating from their family financially and finding a method to pay for school. Working with We Are Family and attending functions of Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), Cowan felt “discrepancies in maturities” in various groups, eventually finding supportive friends and neighbors to help with personal issues and the need for food. Cowan discusses identifying as queer, nonbinary, and trans, mentions a fundraiser they started to help pay for surgery and speaks of their capstone project to map all the gender-neutral bathrooms on the College of Charleston campus. Cowan notes a lack of response from College administrators on this and other LGBTQ oriented issues, describes the inconveniences and disruptions caused to their college studies by this lack of facilities and speaks to the insensitivity of some faculty and friends in using offensive vocabularies and inappropriate pronouns. Cowan and the interviewer discuss the lack of diversity within Charleston Pride, and the larger LGBTQ movement as a whole, while praising classes and faculty, such as Dr. Kristi Bryan, within the College’s Women’s & Gender Studies program and the positive effect it has had on them and others. The interview closes with a discussion of Cowan’s plans for the future after graduating in May 2019, having earlier mentioned a disinclination to return to working as an educator/camp counselor at Kids On Point (formerly Chucktown Squash), due to the fact that the students there would have known them under a different name.
Jamie Nadeau (pronouns: She/Her/Hers) describes her journey to self-realization as a lesbian trans woman and a successful business owner of a hand-press greeting card printing company in Charleston, South Carolina. Born in Nashville, Tennessee into a religious Church of Christ family, Nadeau attended religious schools. Her father, a member of the Potawatomi Nation, and her mother divorced when she was young, and she speaks of trying to reclaim and learn more about her native American heritage. Born intersex, Nadeau retains early childhood hospital memories and speaks of her conservative upbringing where LGBTQ people were seen as “cultural oddities” and trans people were thought “horrific monsters.” Trying to imagine herself as a lesbian in that conservative environment “broke my brain,” and she had to go through the “impostor syndrome” before claiming and becoming comfortable as her true self. Embracing technology and computers long before they were commonplace, she was a young hacker and researched gender identities in cyberspace when others perhaps were still using libraries. She attended Middle Tennessee State University for a year, where and when she first began to explore her identity; she then studied at, and received her degree from, the Savannah College of Art and Design. After her mother’s death, Nadeau vowed she would never wear men’s clothes again and began seeing a gender therapist. She quickly began sharing her status with friends, family and her wife Allison, meeting wholehearted support from the latter, and a variety of responses from others. Nadeau speaks to the various levels of acceptance from the religious community, and from her biological and chosen families. She speaks at length of her experiences in coming out, noting how “soul crushing” being “misgendered” in public can be, and praises the Charleston trans women’s community for being so accepting and supportive, affirming the importance of support groups and loyal friends. Nadeau also describes how she and her wife, Allison, friends since childhood, followed their fascination with printing and design and left their professions to become proprietors of their greeting card company, Ink Meets Paper. There is a brief discussion focusing on Charleston being a safer space for LGBTQ people than other areas of the Deep South, and in response to the interviewer, Nadeau suggest that LGBTQ people should not necessarily focus on otherness, but see the world as she does, a place of countless, diverse narratives, where people are to be encouraged for finding their own way and lauded for their strength in “occupying space” in a world of proscriptions and possiblities.
Louis Coste, Hal's third great-grandfather, arrived as a Huguenot immigrant from Montpelier, France, in the late 18th century and became a naturalized citizen in 1808. He and his wife, Lucinda Mackey, had three sons, among them Napoleon L. Coste, who went on to have a long and adventurous career in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. That included expeditions with naturalist James Audubon, and the placement of many of the lighthouses and other aids to navigation along the east coast. His most famous deed was at the outbreak of the Civil War when Coste commandeered the revenue cutter, William Aiken, and turned it over to the state of South Carolina. Hal recounts other significant events in the life of N.L. Coste, as well as his son, Napoleon Edward, who also served the Confederacy and later the Revenue Cutter Service. Hal next recounts his memories of his grandfather, Vincent O. Coste, who served in the U.S. Lifesaving Service, which joined with the Revenue Cutter Service in 1915 to form the U.S. Coast Guard. Vincent later commanded the Coast Guard station on Sullivan's Island. Hal next speaks of the lives of his mother and father, before detailing his own time on the island. These include his mayonnaise meal in kindergarten, his learning to swim in the creek behind the island, and especially his passion for surfing. Before ending with his general feelings regarding changes that have occurred on Sullivan's Island, Hal explains and displays the two silver life-saving medals from the Coast Guard that hang on his walls, one for Hal's own actions and one for the incredible story of his great-uncle, James Coste, who in 1898 saved a young man who would turn out to be the grandfather of Charleston's long time mayor, Joe Riley.
The story of Rosamond Lawson's family connection with Sullivan's Island is the story of houses. Her great-great grandfather, German immigrant Charles Otto Witte, bought the first house at Station 18 in the late 1860's. That house ultimately burned, but a second house at Station 11, built in 1868, was bought in 1910 and remained in the family until 2018. Having moved from Charleston to Virginia when she was six, many of Rosamond's early memories are of summer visits. However, in 1994 she moved back to this area and spent many more years in the house with her own growing family. Summertime memories in the early years included crabbing, fishing, playing kickball, and entertaining Charleston friends. She learned to drive on the dirt road that ran along the back of the island. Rosamond recalls all the front beach homes being summer residences. Few people lived on Sullivan's Island year round, and those were not on front beach. Most houses, including her own, had neither heating nor air conditioning. On the rare visit to the island in the winter, the place was nearly deserted. There was a vegetable man who would come over every few days to deliver fresh produce. Rosamond recounts the few businesses that existed in those days. Playing hide and seek in the old batteries and Fort Moultrie before it became a National Park are all fond memories. Rosamond describes the typical summer thunderstorm and experiencing that in the old house. She also shows the damage done by Hurricane Hugo. Rosamond is also part of the Waring family. That includes Judge Waties Waring whose controversial decision became part of the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case leading to his ostracization and eventual move from Charleston to New York. Finally, Rosamond discusses her favorite memories as well as all the changes she has seen in the area over the past twenty-five years.
At one time there were so many Schirmers living on Sullivan's Island that the area around Station 19 and the Coast Guard Station earned the nickname, 'Schirmerville.' Ruth DeHaven is a member of that family that can trace its connection with the island back to the marriage of John Elias Schirmer to Helena Sass around 1800. Ruth's father as a young man would canoe to the island with his friends to spend time at a house called the 'Helluvajoint.' As a child, Ruth and her family would pack as many as eight or nine people into their car and as soon as school was out in the spring, drive to Sullivan's Island where they would stay until school started in the fall. Ruth goes on to detail many of the summertime activities she and her family engaged in, including fishing and crabbing on the rocks (jetties), shrimping in the creek, and swimming. After supper the adults usually turned to card games, often joined by 'Vincie' Coste, head of the Coast Guard Station. Other memories revolved around the Coast Guard including the bells that marked the hours, rescues of those in distress, and watching practices with breeches buoys. When the red hurricane flags went up, everyone plus dogs, chickens and goats loaded up the car and headed for Charleston. Ruth also covers relations with Ft. Moultrie, tensions during World War II, internment of German-Americans, disputes over which chickens laid which eggs, and lemon meringue pies. Her family was also close by when a runaway ship hit the Grace Memorial Bridge sending a car with five passengers to their death in 1946. The interview closes with Ruth's impression of the changes that have occurred on the island.
David Cosgrove?s parents both came to America in 1964 and met in Elizabeth, New Jersey. David's parents are from rural areas in County Galway and County Mayo. Davd's father lived in Ireland until he was twenty two years old, when he moved to London with his brother, and David's mother came to America straight from Ireland at the age of nineteen. He has been to Ireland several times, as his parents regularly took him and his four brothers over to their hometowns during his childhood. David takes care to discuss similarities and differences between life and politics in Ireland and Charleston.
Cheryl Daniels was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. Both of Cheryl?s parents were also born in Jersey City and their parents immigrated from Galway and Cork. Cheryl?s grandparents initially immigrated to America for better job opportunities. She discusses their journey to Americanize themselves upon entering the country by changing their names. She discusses the influence of Catholicism on her family and her public school education experience in America. Cheryl has lived in New Jersey, Colorado, and South Carolina.
Jeanne Chirdon discusses her experience with Irish heritage and the journey of her family?s immigration from Ireland. After her great great grandparents immigrated from Ireland, they settled in Pennsylvania. Some of her family traveled through the port in Cork, Ireland and most of her family immigrated through Ellis Island, New York. One of seven siblings, Jeanne grew up Roman Catholic and discusses Catholic traditions and how they have influenced her life. Jeanne shares the role of Irish music in her life, which developed from her relationship with "the Toms" at the age of 16. Music, for Jeanne, influenced her sense of community and comfort in Irish culture. After living in Cork, Ireland from 2003-2006, Jeanne moved to Asheville for graduate school, and later moved to Charleston with her husband. She plays the banjo, and is very involved in the Irish music scene in Charleston.
Vivian Cleary, 64, was born in Dublin, Ireland. He shares stories about life in the Northside of Dublin. Vivian lived in Dublin until he was three years old when his parents moved to Birmingham, England, where he lived until the age of 17. Vivian shares experiences of family holidays in Ireland. Vivian came to Charleston twenty years ago and discusses how different life is in America. He discusses political issues with America during this time along with the process for applying for permanent residency. Vivian is also able to shed light on historical events in Ireland, such as experiences with the IRA, and separation of Northern Ireland and the Republic.
James Finnegan discusses his family history and his experiences as an Irish American in Charleston. James? great-great-great-grandfather traveled to South Carolina from County Meath around the late 1840?s. He discusses his deep family history in Charleston, as well as his involvement in the Irish community in Charleston and various events such as the Charleston St. Patrick?s Day parade.
Sarah Davis discusses her experiences as an Irish American growing up in the Northeast. She admits that it is difficult to pinpoint her experience with Irishness, as her family background is made up of several different backgrounds, but states that she connects most with the community and hospitality aspects of Irishness. She also offers some comments on perceptions of Irish American vs Irish identities, and on the changing political and social environment in Ireland today.
Megan Smith discusses her experiences as an Irish American in the South. Her paternal grandmother and grandfather immigrated to Holyoke, Massachusetts in the early 1880s. Her maternal grandparents are from Kerry, specifically the Annascaul area. Megan explains that her family in the Boston area owned a blacksmith company and provided services for much of the city. Her other grandparents lived in northern New York and owned a grocery story in Massena, New York. Her father was in the Navy and was responsible for their move to Charleston. Megan is a teacher, and is very involved in the Irish music scene in Charleston.
Melanie McMillan DeHaven (b.1966) was born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, during the time of the Troubles. Melanie lived in Newtonards until she was eight years old and still has family there today. She discusses her experience with emigration at a young age, and what the Northern Irish identity means to her. Violence during the Troubles had a personal impact on her family, and was a driving force in their emigration to America during the 1960's and 1970's, which she discusses in depth.
Cormac O?Duffy (b. 1950) shares his experience of being born in America, but being raised in Dublin. Cormac?s father was a well-known singer in Ireland, which provided opportunities for Cormac such as meeting De Valera. Cormac O?Duffy was raised to love music and spends his time writing music. He discusses pursuing higher education degrees in Ireland and coming to America for teaching opportunities. He also discusses key differences in life in America and Ireland.
Roseanne Keeley Wray?s parents immigrated to America as a couple in 1926. Prior to her parents moving together to the Bronx. Roseanne shares the experience her mother had with coming to Oklahoma as a single woman. Roseanne offers a wealth of knowledge of both life in Ireland as well as the life of an Irish individual living in America. She shares memories of living in the Bronx as a child and housing young, single Irish immigrants in her family home. She shares stories that her parents would share with her siblings during childhood that told them stories of life in Ireland. To this day, Roseanne?s family still owns a family farm in Ireland, which Roseanne plans on leaving to her children and grandchildren.
Brendan Dagg (b. 1981) describes his experience as an Irish immigrant living in Charleston. Brendan grew up in Tullamore, County Offlay. His parents owned a local grocery store in the community, and he describes his upbringing as ?typical Irish,? and very positive. He emigrated to the United States in 2011, after marrying his wife, who is American, and immediately settled in Charleston. The transition to living in the U.S. was ?fairly challenging? at first but got easier once the decision was made to make things permanent. Brendan comments that the only thing he really misses about Ireland is the relationships with family and being able to be a part of certain milestones, which is why he and his wife bring their two children over to visit with extended family as often as they can. Brendan is very involved with sports and is a part of the hurling team here in Charleston.
Brett Wadford was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina and has lived in Charleston for the past ten years. Brett?s family immigrated to America around 1787 and came from Antrim, Northern Ireland. Brad?s family has a history of Protestant beliefs and he has ancestors buried in a Presbyterian cemetery in the upstate. He has been involved with the Gaelic Athletic Association in order to connect with his Irish background.
Laura Lesburg (pronouns: She/Hers) was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She begins her interview discussing her childhood, coming from a lower middle-class milieu in the assumed-affluent Mount Pleasant area and struggling with her relationship with her family members. She details the ways that she found safety and comfort outside of her family home through a network of now life-long friends, and she details other struggles with religion throughout her childhood. She attended Wando High School, but then moved with her family to Indianapolis, Indiana, finishing high school there and beginning college there. She then lived in Los Angeles, California where she began the process of gradual process of coming out, noting that, coming back to Charleston, she found lesbian roles more stereotypical in the Lowcounty than the West Coast. Her complete coming out, after some difficult conversations with her mother, consisted of just being frank about her life. It coincided with her decision to get sober. Those actions freed her from thoughts of suicide, internalized homophobia, and a numbing of her real feelings. She compares the freedom and the acceptance of herself as a sort of second adolescence, becoming excited about figuring out directions to take in life. Lesburg discusses her family and friends’ reaction to her coming out as well as the difficulties of navigating life as a recovering alcoholic. She also references her limited exposure to queer people as a young person in Charleston, recalls silence on the topic, and negative and/or no responses to the coming out of Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell and the murder of Matthew Shepherd. She refers to the positive impact of shows like Will and Grace and the Russian women’s music group, Pussy Riot. One of the first times she became aware of a large number of lesbians was attending a Women’s National Basketball Association game in Indianapolis; and she also goes into great detail on the gay disco Pantheon, in Charleston, describing its mostly gay male clientele, music, lighting, dress, etc. With respect to the greater LGBTQ+ communities and their challenges, she mentions issues confronting people of color and trans people and describes the idea of “femme invisibility”. Being lesbian, she concludes, has given her insight into what it means to be a minority, out of the mainstream, and it has benefited her in her work as literacy instructor in mostly people of color communities.
Suzanne Groff is an attorney who moved to Charleston in 1995. She begins her interview by contextualizing her growing up in a small conservative community of Lancaster, PA, where she had close family relationships that continue to this day, even though she and her brother and have grown up and now live far apart. The conversation then turns to her coming to terms with her identity and how, initially, she kept her relationships with women secret. As time went on, however, she came out as a lesbian to friends, work, and family. Groff practiced as an attorney in New Hampshire from 1980 to 1995; what prompted her to leave the state was her desire to adopt a child, which was illegal for gay men and women under New Hampshire law. Since South Carolina did allow such adoptions, she and her partner moved here. She found differences between the North and the South arresting, specifically at how unreserved Southerners are in comparison and the personal questions they will ask. While she did have a troubling medical appointment at the Medical University of South Carolina, she found many progressive people in the area, and, despite her fears, her daughter was warmly accepted in public schools despite her difference in having two mothers. Groff describes difficulties she experienced with joining a law firm and the subsequent creation of her own firm and mentions how being a lesbian was once used against her. She was active in the development and growth of Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA) and discusses her legal work here on LGBTQ related issues, such as helping with name changes for transgender clients and her past work in AIDS-related activism in New England. Groff attended the march celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York and reflects on issues such as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and Marriage Equality. The conversation closes on her thoughts on current challenges facing the LGBTQ community.
Regina Duggins tells the story of her childhood in metropolitan New York, growing up in a tightknit family with her strong connections to religion and the surrounding community. She describes her traumatic experiences with men at a young age, and how this relates to her more positive connections and relationships with women throughout her life, including several long-term romantic relationships. She also recounts her early activism, in which she formed a dance team in her apartment building to prevent other young girls from experiencing the sexual abuse she had. In discussing two of her siblings who died, she notes that both were LGBTQ and lived closeted lives; her brother died of AIDS. She raised five children, sons and daughters of her siblings, and was the first of all of her family to openly declare her identity as a proud black lesbian. Family connections prompted her to move to Charleston, SC in 2010 with her children, and her mother; here she has continued her activism, motivated by the closeted communities and pervasive racism of the area. Her education, experience and persistence led the leaders of Charleston Pride to offer her a spot on the board. Despite the challenges she has witnessed in Charleston regarding racial discrimination and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, she believes change is coming and has faith that she will live to see a day when a new generation succeeds in creating a world in which love wins.
Richard Little (pronouns: He/Him/His) describes his youth and education, his founding and running a gay bar in Charleston, South Carolina, attending medical school, and his professional work as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institute of Health. Born in Union, South Carolina, he attended Christ School, a private boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina, where he impacted student programming and where a research project of his prompted the state to take action on water pollution in Pisgah National Forest. After some experimentation in high school, Little came out as gay while attending Tulane University in New Orleans. After a brief stint in graduate school, Little moved to Charleston, where in 1979 he opened a gay bar, Les Jardins, more commonly called LJ’s, in the then-desolate Market area. Little describes some of the other gay bars in town and notes that his private club offered a place for both out and closeted LGBTQ patrons. State liquor laws mandated the necessity of incorporating as an eleemosynary institution, and LJ’s became a major supporter of the Spoleto Festival, gaining praise for the club and the gay community from Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. and others. He describes the evolution and growth of the club, its parties, programs and members, speaks of the Alcohol Beverage Commission’s anti-gay harassment, describes a court case regarding that, and mentions speaking to the Charleston Police Department about its harassment of gay men at the Battery, a cruising spot in Charleston. In 1984, opting not to franchise, but to close, the club, Little decided to attend medical school. He faced anti-gay bias at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston but found a welcome at the University of South Carolina Medical School in Columbia. Little was elected President of the American Medical Student Association and in a public venue confronted South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster for his homophobic comments, instead of addressing the topic of infant mortality. He speaks of early poor care of HIV patients in Columbia, a situation he tried to remedy and how “the good old girls’ network” brought him to the National Cancer Institute where he became head of the AIDS oncology center. In his work of almost thirty years, he has had patients he knew from LJ’s and from his hometown, and he mentions how difficult it has been to deal with so many losses over the years. But changes in HIV care, and changes at MUSC in Charleston, are signs of progress and the interview ends on a hopeful note.
Taylor DeBartola tells the story of his upbringing in Peachtree City, Georgia, a town he describes as “very conservative.” He discusses the competitive relationship he had with his younger brother who is close in age, as well as the role that religion played in their early life. DeBartola reflects on the way that he revealed his sexuality to his family, and the period of time where things between them were rocky, discussing the ways in which he had to be patient and allow his parents to “take their time” to accept him. Taylor then talks about his “chosen family,” and the way they all met at Dudley’s, a popular gay bar in downtown Charleston. He details the ways he sees gatherings with gay men changing in recent years, moving from public spaces to more private locations such as personal residences. Taylor also discusses gay married life in the South, later noting that he and his now-husband were “engaged when it was not going to be legal,” and stressing that young people should educate themselves on gay history, especially the HIV/AIDS crisis, which he stresses is far from over. He also talks about the ways that particular books shaped him and his desire to learn more about gay history, mentioning Harlan Greene’s Why We Never Danced the Charleston. DeBartola then describes the impact that artist and activist David Wojnarowicz has had on his life, and the ways that he has tried to trace Wojnarowicz’s and his partner’s time spent on a trip to Charleston. Finally, Taylor talks about his experiences being an openly gay College of Charleston student.
Josh Langdon Hooser grew up in Pea Ridge, a small town near Huntington, West Virginia, which he describes as “very conservative.” During this interview, he discusses his childhood, with mentions of being bullied in school until he switched from theatre to sports, his experience coming out, what led him to settle in Charleston, some experiences at the College of Charleston, including being excluded from a fraternity, his marriage, and his work as a lawyer focusing on LGBTQ clients and issues. His coming-out experience, in which he called a “family meeting,” began a process of acceptance within his family. He describes the judgements directed his way by Democratic and more liberal members of the LGBTQ community, due to his being a Republican, yet he also explains how he tried to impact the Republican Party and some of its candidates on social LGBTQ issues, noting that he was active in the John McCain Presidential Campaign and served on a statewide board of South Carolina College Republicans. He worked for the Human Rights Campaign in West Virginia, and details the attitudes he encountered from a very religious woman state legislator on LGBTQ issues. He also discusses some discrimination and resistance he and his fiancé encountered while planning their wedding and describes the culmination of factors that led to his decision to plan to relocate his practice from Cincinnati, Ohio to Charleston, South Carolina. He refers to the importance of both biological and chosen families, and how he and his husband plan to start a family, contrasting the issues gay men face in that field versus those faced by lesbians. He describes many of the legal issues confronting LGBTQ people, due to conflicting state and federal laws, and is particularly sympathetic to the difficulties of trans people. In replying to the interviewer’s questions, he sums up difference between his “millennial” generation and the generation that came before and the one that is coming after. He mentions many legal decisions and social shifts that have impacted LGBTQ communities, and sees fragmentation and intersectionality as one of the biggest hurdles facing the LGBTQ community today, particularly in respect to race and gender.
At a “Unity in the Community” Forum sponsored by the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), Reverend Robert Arrington answers questions posed to him by female impersonator/performer Symone N. O’Bishop and members of the audience. After introductions by emcee Regina Duggins (aka Gina Mocha), Arrington speaks of his personal life, conditions in the lowcountry, and the development and evolution of his open and affirming Charleston Unity Fellowship Church. He describes growing up in Durham, NC, and living in Rochester, NY, before moving to Charleston, a place he finds not as progressive or easy to live as elsewhere. He mentions a dysfunctional childhood, being misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, and recalls various phases of his life, including being married to woman, being a female impersonator, being HIV positive for thirty years, and the love he now shares with his husband, stating that they were the first “out” African American gay male couple in the area to have a house built for them by Habitat for Humanity. Most of the interview, however, focuses on the growth of his church, his plans for it, and the need to be completely transparent in all aspects of one’s life, including one’s spiritual life. He and O’Bishop discuss the behavior of some closeted LGBTQ church goers, who hide their sexual and emotional lives to worship under ministers who preach against homosexuality. The only “out” African American minister in the area, Arrington describes his church as Pentecostal-related and its policy of accepting every one of every sexual orientation, identification and race. He responds to an HIV-positive transgender woman of color asking how to find a loving relationship; he and the interviewer also discuss sexually irresponsible behavior and strategies for finding a life partner. Prompted by other queries from the audience, Reverend Arrington agrees that there is a need for more coordination with his church and the community it represents with other agencies in the area. An audience member comments further that there must be a new attitude regarding such participation: instead of asking to be included, one must demand that inclusion. The interview ends with Chase Glenn of AFFA and others describing programs and initiatives of related interest in the area. A call for action results with applause at the comment that this forum may mark a new direction for one of Charleston’s marginalized communities.
Linda Ketner is a strategic planning consultant for mostly nonprofit organizations; she and her partner Beth have been together for almost twenty years. She grew up in the small town of Faith, NC, eventually moving to Raleigh and finally, Salisbury, NC. Ketner recalls realizing her sexual identity at about age twelve and asking her mother about girls marrying girls. Her mother’s strong negative response prompted Ketner to learn more; she looked up “homosexual” in her local library and found literature that was even more discouraging. A series of events led her to live a double life: one “supposedly straight” and the other, her hidden true self. In college, Ketner began her first relationship with a woman while simultaneously dating men in the hopes of finding one with whom she was compatible. This eventually led to a number of broken engagements and a marriage that ended when Ketner could not deny that she was a lesbian. After years of living in secret, she and her partner occupying two separate nearby houses to allay suspicion, Ketner decided to come out. Some others, however, advised her to remain closeted to prevent “damaging” many of the progressive causes with which was involved. Ketner describes the process of telling friends and describes the family ceremony that included her partner Ginny, Ginny’s children, and a host of other invited guests, who ended up fully supporting them. Her mother, whom Ketner took care of for years, eventually was won over, as well. In 2008, Ketner ran as a totally “out” candidate for US Congress; she describes that and how she and others founded Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA) in Charleston, SC and SC Equality, in Columbia, SC. She mentions Tom Meyers and his organization We Are Family and discusses the work of AFFA and SC Equality on such LGBTQ issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness and on other public, religious, and law enforcement topics. Ketner discusses her curiosity as to what might survive death; and the interview concludes with her assessment of challenges facing the LGBTQ community today. She particularly notes the troubling policies and attitudes of President Donald J. Trump, and the lack of strategic planning necessary for progressive movements to sustain themselves and survive.
Kristen Lowe (pronouns: She/Her/Hers) was born in Florence, South Carolina, and currently resides in Charleston with her partner, and works professionally as a hand therapist in a sports medicine practice. She discusses growing up in the small-town atmosphere of Florence, and the impacts of her largely conservative and Southern Baptist religious upbringing. She recalls happy childhood memories with her parents and two younger brothers, including spending summers on the lake. Attending a private Baptist high school, she was unaware of her identity and saw no LGBTQ role models anywhere, having her first experience at age twenty. A graduate of the College of Charleston and later the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), she hid her sexual identity at the former institution, afraid of being labelled if she attended Gay Straight Alliance meetings, but at MUSC, she eventually served as Vice President of the Alliance for Equality. Lowe describes the difficulty of arriving at self-acceptance, feeling solitary, and at first being fearful of going to church and educational figures, or even close friends for advice. Becoming more and more open, she searched for a place within the LGBTQ community, finding fulfillment and social acceptance in becoming a board member of Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). She details the advocacy work AFFA does, achieving, just at the time of the interview, a victory in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in its passing a non-discrimination ordinance. Being out has given her a freedom to do as she wants, dress as she wants and she also has a variety of reproductive options available to her and her partner, as well. Any harassments received for being perceived as a lesbian were minor, she notes. In answer to queries about the issues facing the LGBTQ community today, she reflects on the number of different identities within it, and although there is much more visibility currently, she reiterates the difficulty of coming out, recalling how she at first had to do it via letters to her parents. If it takes an individual years to come to terms with her identity, she reasons, family members should be given time to adapt as well. She also explains how naturally children will take to the idea of LGBTQ relations among adults since children come into the world unprejudiced and will remain so if their society will allow it.
Charles W. Smith discusses growing up, his adult professional life as a city planner and realtor, his personal life and his work as an activist for LGBTQ rights. His family lived in Orangeburg, Beaufort, Florence and Charleston and he was educated at the College of Charleston and Clemson University, moving to Miami in 1984. His early family life was overshadowed by the illness and death of an older brother. Realizing he was gay, he avoided being bullied in school by staying closeted. In 1987 in Miami Beach, FL, he met Carlos Guillermo Rodriguez. Soon after, Smith told his family he was gay and Rodriguez tested HIV positive. He wanted Smith to leave him, but Smith refused; their families in South Carolina and Colombia, South America accepted them. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami, with which Smith was affiliated as a senior warden, was also accepting and affirming. After his lover’s death in 1995, Smith, who had run for political office, but lost, moved to Charleston, SC in 1996, finding a changed city, which he attributes to Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. We Are Family, a youth-oriented LGBTQ organization had been founded by Thomas Myers and Smith stayed, founding a real estate firm catering to LGBTQ clients. There were a number of bars in town he remembers frequenting; he affiliated with St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a historically African American congregation opened up to white congregants, many of whom were LGBTQ. Smith and others, mostly non natives, such as Linda Ketner, Jim and Warren Redman-Gress, Carolyn Kirk, Lynne Moldenhauer and Linda G. William, helped found Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). They publicly confronted a newspaper ad attacking LGBTQ people. This, Smith believes, began the process of removing shame and empowering the LGBTQ community. Smith also describes the “thousand year rainfall event” of 2015 and his marriage to Rob Suli that year, in a Columbia, SC hospital to ensure their rights were respected in the arena of health care. He notes the importance of the internet to LGBTQ people in finding community. He mentions Lowcountry Gay and Lesbian Alliance (LGLA), the lives of Jay Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson in Miami, and two gay men, who wintered in Charleston, SC. They, according to Smith, participated in the gay purges of US State Department employees in the 1940s and ‘50s. He also mentions the ownership of gay bars in Charleston, SC and the conflict over LGBTQ rights that has split the local Episcopal Diocese.
Lynn Dugan attended Catholic grammar and high schools in New York City. With a lesbian friend, she visited lesbian bars where rigid “butch” or “fem” roles prevailed. She came of age just after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, later befriending some of the participants, as she became part of a community that looked after and protected each other from attacks, some of which she describes. She notes the comradery of men and women in the early gay rights movement, and the accessibility of many future celebrities entertaining in the gay baths and bars. She was mentored by an older gay man, Jimmy Alan Newcomer and she created a marriage ceremony with a woman opera singer at St. Peter’s MCC Church in 1981. She witnessed the start of the AIDS crisis and the work of many women and activists such as Larry Kramer. Professionally, she held jobs in management and sales, drove a taxi, and had her own greeting card company. In some jobs, she had to hide her sexuality. She visited Colorado often before moving to Boulder ca. 1993, participating in the LGBTQ community there. While attending a Pride parade in Columbia SC, she met political activist Charlie Smith, who invited her to Charleston, SC; she moved there soon after and began her involvement in the community, founding the Charleston Social Club, which offered opportunities to many isolated and closeted women. One of the programs, Lezz Fest, produced on the club’s tenth anniversary closed off part of North Charleston and drew 1,000 participants. Dugan was the prime mover in establishing the first Pride Festival in the lowcountry. She and a cadre of friends staged fundraisers for the event which the City of Charleston wanted to sideline. The city of North Charleston, however, including Mayor R. Keith Summey, who served as grand marshal of the parade, supported it, despite the criticism of many local churches. The Charleston Pride Organization event took place on May 15, 2010, and its impact, and that of the evening event held on the Citadel campus, is described in detail by Dugan. In response to questions, she comments on African American participation in the community and ends the interview with suggestions of other issues that LGBTQ community could address, such as the care of its older citizens, a task in which she is involved.
Mikayla Drost begins by describing her childhood in Lugoff, South Carolina. She did not grow up in a religious household but, through a friend, began attending Mormon (Church of the Latter Day Saints) services and events. She found contentment and many positive experiences within this community, but details the shunning visited upon a friend of hers within the group who came out as lesbian. In her town, there was not a very visible gay presence, and the one woman neighbor suspected of being gay was the object of derision and disrespect. Drost, who describes herself as bisexual, but prefers the term “queer” due to negative associations with “bisexual”, always was aware of her sexual orientation. Upon leaving home to attend the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, she found a larger more accepting community and it was easier to come to terms with herself and others. Her breakup with another woman sparked her coming-out to her parents. In college she enjoyed being a bit different in her sorority and she speaks of there being little pressure on her of how to act once she came out. She remarks that she often deliberately presented in stereotypically lesbian manner, allowing her to assert her identity without having to verbalize it. She replies to questions regarding how her generation’s views on gender, sexuality and reproduction differ from those of her of her parents and she states what she sees the challenges facing the LGBTQ community. She specifically mentions many trans issues and comments on her politically active life, in which she regularly contacts her elected representatives on a variety of environmental and other issues.
Colleen Condon (b. 1970) describes her upbringing in an Irish-American family in Charleston. Her family came to the States from County Cork during the time of the Famine, first landing in a northern city before coming to Charleston, which she remarks is most likely due to the similarities between Charleston and County Cork. Her great-great-grandfather started Condon’s department store in Charleston in 1899, which was family owned until closing in 1984. She discusses what it was like growing up in a large but very close-knit family with lots of ties to the community. She feels that issues of prejudice and discrimination against Irish Catholics in particular is something that has decreased through the generations, and that the Irish Catholics have become more integrated with the wider community as the years have passed, that Irish identity has “mesh[e]d really well” with Southern identity in Charleston. As to the difference between Charleston and other southern cities, she feels that the Irish community and sense of Irish identity is more prominent in Charleston than it is in places such as Atlanta or Charlotte. Part of her interview also includes her experience as a lesbian in an Irish-Catholic family, and how she has begun to try to separate her Irish identity from Catholicism because of the difficulties she has faced. Colleen and her wife were the first couple in the state of South Carolina to be granted a marriage license as a same-sex couple, after a long legal battle.
Sean Doherty discusses his experience growing up as part of an Irish-American family in New York City. His parents emigrated from County Donegal in the 1920s. He discusses growing up in a neighborhood of various first-generation immigrants from different backgrounds. He was an officer in the United States Marine Corps, until he became a salesman for Sylvan Pyrometric Systems, eventually retiring and coming to Charleston.
Barbara Dugan discusses her upbringing as part of an Irish-American family in New York City. Her grandparents emigrated from County Mayo and County Kerry around 1900. Her grandmother, Catherine, took care of janitorial duties in her apartment building while her grandfather, Patrick, became employed in steel works and helped to build several New York City area bridges. As a child, she had difficulty getting her grandmother to speak in detail about Ireland, which she suspects is because of the hardships the family endured before their move to the United States. Barbara grew up going to all-girls Catholic schools and was raised Catholic. She speaks glowingly of her travels in Ireland and discusses the various ways in which she passes a sense of Irish-American identity onto her children and grandchildren. Barbara recently relocated to Charleston to be close to her married son and grandchildren, who live in Mt. Pleasant.
The Pringle family started coming to Sullivan’s Island for summers as far back as 1911. Peggy’s earliest memories stem from when she was three and a half years old and her youngest sister was born while the family was on the island. Peggy details all the enjoyable summer activities common to those summertime visits. She recalls the group of nuns who spent summer R&R in the Loretto Cottage. Other activities included time on the neighbor’s trampoline, skating at the old Army recreation center, and taking in movies at the old post theater. Peggy recalls enjoying horses when they were on the island. There was one episode when Peggy’s sister helped save a victim from drowning. The new lighthouse was turned on in 1962. Peggy relates the impact that never ending bright light had on islanders. Peggy then moved on to the second phase of life on the island, married to Topper Schachte and raising a family at 2501 Ion Avenue. The third phase of life was when she married Hal Currey and moved to “Bunker Hill”, one of the many structures left on the island by the Army. She recounts in detail the effects of Hurricane Hugo, her attempts to get back on the island, and an encounter with the National Guard. She also has memories of LaBrasca’s, both the restaurant and the fire that engulfed their house. Peggy ends by noting the changes in the island as well as the traffic that has always been part of living on Sullivan’s Island.
The Truesdale family association with Sullivan’s Island goes back to the early 1800’s when David Truesdell immigrated from New York and started what became the island’s major oyster growing industry. Jeanie and Jerry recount the history of that extensive business until it was lost due to taxes. Their grandfather, Wyatt Aiken Truesdell, owned a sawmill and was killed when a saw blade flew off. Prior to that Wyatt Aiken had also been the ancestor who officially had the family name changed from Truesdell to Truesdale. Jeanie and Jerry describe their father, Cecil Wyatt Truesdale, as an extremely talented man, a jack of all trades, who could do just about anything including dance. However, his life was jolted when he developed a tumor that required extensive treatment and rehabilitation. Even though he never recovered fully, their father went on to be the bridge keeper of the new Ben Sawyer Bridge, built to connect Sullivan’s Island to Mt. Pleasant in 1945. Other family trials included a brother who developed polio and Jerry’s near drowning. The pair describe their Mother, Vernie Cooper Truesdale, and her many talents. She was the lunchroom manager at Sullivan’s Island Elementary School and was known widely as being an outstanding cook. Growing up on the Island is described as fun and relaxed. Jerry, one of a set of twins, describes his and his brother’s career. The family was intimately involved in the founding of Sullivan’s Island Baptist Church and relate much of its history. According to this brother and sister, the smell of the marsh, the roar of the sea, the friendly, easy going lifestyle are why “Fiddlers”, a name for Sullivan’s Island natives, will always remember this as the best place in the world to grow up.
Carl Smith and his wife, Stephanie, moved to Sullivan's Island in 1972 and immediately fell in love with it. Though an architect by profession, Carl soon became involved in island politics. His first involvement was on the Board of Adjustment, now known as the Board of Zoning Appeals. In those days there were basically no ordinances protecting historic structures on the island. However, there was the long established requirement for a minimum half acre lot size, something that Carl considers one of the most important aspects in protecting the island's character. In 1987 Carl was elected to Sullivan's Island Town Council. He was a council member during the destruction of Hurricane Hugo. He describes the devastation of the storm and the residents' return to the island. Hugo led to many changes, including the establishment of the island's first disaster plan. In the mid 90's Carl made his first run for mayor, but was defeated then and in 2001. His first successful bid for mayor came in 2005, and he ran unopposed in 2009. Carl feels that there were three issues that defined his time as Mayor of Sullivan's Island, in addition to his strong advocacy for preservation of the island's character. The first was that of the fate of the Ben Sawyer Bridge and the island's connection to the mainland. The second was the way in which water and sewer were handled on the island rather than being shipped to Mt. Pleasant. The third was the new Sullivan's Island Elementary School, a facility that Carl felt was ill-conceived and over-built. A referendum on the school was never allowed by Town Council, but the write-in vote on Carl's behalf in the mayoral election of 2013 was considered by many a referendum on the school. There are other accomplishments that Carl remembers with pride during his time as mayor including initiating an architectural survey of the island, designing the town sign at the entrance to the island, recovering and rehabilitating the old bandstand from Ft. Moultrie, erecting the monument in the historic town cemetery, and preserving the historic character of the Devereaux mansion gatehouse. Finally, Smith details his reasons for leaving the island.
Historian Stephen J. White, Sr. discusses his experience as an Irish-American in Charleston, and his work in dispelling myths about the Irish in the South. His family emigrated from various areas in Ireland, with family from County Kilkenny, County Mayo, County Clare, and County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Most of them came over in the mid-1800’s. He is one of ten children from a very religious Irish-Catholic family. He has been tracing the history of the Irish in Charleston, beginning with Captain Florence O’Sullivan’s landing in 1670, and has taught courses and written on the contributions of the Irish to Charleston’s rich history. The focus of his research and writing is that the experience of the Irish in northern cities is a rather stereotypical one, and that there is a significant Irish presence in the American South, with experiences that are often vastly different from those who emigrated to northern cities. Stephen is a member of numerous Irish organizations in Charleston, including the Irish Historical Society of South Carolina and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and is dedicated to educating others about the important role that the Irish have played in Charleston’s history.
Ron Plunkett discusses his experience as an Irish-American in the South. His Irish family background is largely derived from County Meath, County Louth, and County Dublin, and the first ancestor of his to come to the States was Captain Peter Plunkett, who arrived in Virginia around 1690. Ron was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. His background is Welsh, German, and French Huguenot, as well as Irish. Ron was raised in the Episcopal Church. Of anti-Irish or anti-Catholic sentiment, he states that he feels such discrimination or prejudice wasn’t a part of his experience in Atlanta, and that religious or ethnic background didn’t seem to be as big of a deal as it might have been in other places. He also discusses his time in the service during the Korean War. He first visited Ireland in the seventies on business and returned several times through his job with Sealand/Maersk Line, speaking of his experience as a visitor in the best of terms. He is a member of the Hibernian Society of Charleston and the St. David’s Society, a Welsh organization. To him, being of Irish descent in America is about celebrating one’s heritage and knowing one’s history, to share pride in the contributions of one’s ancestors.
"Gianni Leonardi, Daniel ""Danny"" McCann, and Adam Tracey speak about their experiences as Irish immigrants in the United States. Gianni and Danny are the owners of two Irish pubs in the Charleston area while Adam works at a pub on Johns Island. Gianni hails from the rural, Irish-speaking parish of Gweedore, in County Donegal. He first came to the United States in 2009 as part of a sponsorship by a pub in Michigan through his university in Ireland. He wanted to come to the U.S. for the opportunity to make a living in the hospitality industry and relocated to Charleston from Ann Arbor to open an Irish pub. He speaks of the vast difference between his rural upbringing and his life in a more suburban/urban environment. He makes a point to discuss the authenticity of Irish hospitality, and how, in owning and operating a pub, he tries to further that sense of genuine Irish warmth. Danny is from Lurgan, County Armagh. He came to the U.S. in 1998, to Detroit, to work in the same pub that later sponsored Gianni. Having grown up in Northern Ireland, he has the most firsthand experience of the Irish Troubles. He speaks briefly about Irish politics and witnessing some of the violence in the North in the 1990s. Adam comes from County Offlay, outside of Tullamore. Before working in hospitality, he had worked in construction in Yonkers, New York. Though he has little firsthand experience with the Troubles, he tells the story of a grand-uncle who was killed young by a bombing in the North. All three speak to their experience within the small community of Irish immigrants in Charleston, and how the community works to bring newly-arrived Irish immigrants together with those who are already established in Charleston. They agree that without the support of the Irish community, their experience in Charleston would have been very different."
Dennis "Denny" O’Brien discusses his upbringing as part of an Irish-American family. His maternal grandfather came over during the Famine and settled in Tennessee. His paternal grandfather came over from a small town outside of Cork in 1912, to Omaha, Nebraska, where he practiced law. His father was an Army officer, so he spent much of his childhood overseas, including Japan, where he attended high school. He eventually settled in Charleston after marrying a woman who’s family has been here for generation. He’s been a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernia and belongs to a number of Catholic organizations. He discusses stories passed on to him by his father, particularly about political events in Ireland, and how the events framed a lot of the anti-British sentiment among the Irish, including members of his family. His family identified primarily as American Irish, rather than Irish-American, and that their Catholic identity was prioritized above their Irish background. The Catholic Church played an important role in his upbringing, and Catholicism is something he has tried to pass on to his children as much as possible. For him, his family is, first and foremost, American with Irish heritage. While he states that the Irish presence is stronger and “more militant” in northern cities such as Boston, he argues that there is a significant Irish culture and community in Charleston.
Bar owner Tommy Snee discusses his experiences as an Irish immigrant in Charleston. He is the youngest of ten children and describes his upbringing in a poor family as a happy one despite the hardships of poverty. He first came to the United States at the age of seventeen in 1980, to stay with an aunt and uncle in St. Augustine, Florida for a holiday. He returned home for a period of time before returning to the States in 1986 and gaining his green card. He gained U.S. citizenship in 2017. He attended a Christian Brothers School in Ireland, and left school at the age of fourteen to work in construction. Feeling that there was “nowhere to go in Ireland,” he came to the States, where he found the opportunity to work hard and make a life immensely appealing. The weather, the diversity, and the local culture drew him to Charleston from New York. He finds that the response to him as an immigrant has been nothing but positive. While he loves his life in the States, he states that, first and foremost, “I’ll always be an Irishman.” On Irish stereotypes, he disagrees with many of the simplistic stereotypes, but argues that the best way for Irish immigrants to dispel these kinds of false notions is through education. He also discusses the importance of honoring diverse backgrounds and experiences, and the importance of listening to and learning from those with different perspectives, which he feels is critical for America, or for any country, to becoming as great as it can be.
Jeremiah Courtney discusses his experience as an Irish immigrant in New York City, and then in Charleston. He came to the States full time in 1991, after having lived in London for five years and finding life there difficult for an Irishman. He speaks warmly of growing up in Kilarney, County Kerry, but left largely because he felt that Ireland couldn’t offer him the variety and adventure that he wanted in his life. He felt welcomed and supported upon first arriving in the States, particularly by others in the Irish or Irish-American community. He made his way down to Charleston after feeling he needed a break from New York. Though he was raised in the Catholic church and attended Catholic school, he finds himself turning away from Catholicism, and has not passed that on to his children.
Eimer Kernan discusses her experience as an Irish immigrant. She is the youngest of five siblings from Dublin, and first came to the States in the late seventies on a J1 visa, then later came to live here full-time with her American husband. She has worked as a clinician, researcher, teacher, and consultant for thirty years. She comments on the difference in diversity between Ireland and the States, stating that Ireland is very homogenous, especially when compared to the States, and discusses how she “dials” herself back into Irish culture whenever she returns to Ireland. On religion, she remarks that she found the Catholic church restricting from an early age, so she feels that Catholicism, and religion in general, is not a part of her identity, though it did play a role in her upbringing in Ireland. She speaks specifically to her experience as a woman with a career, and of the difficulties that women face in trying to balance work and family. Above all, she maintains her identity as “Irish-Irish,” and considers herself “a bicoastal dual citizen.”
Darragh Doran (b. 1977) discusses his experience as an Irish immigrant in Charleston. He grew up in Chapelizod, a small village in Dublin, and first came to the States in 1997 on a J1 visa. His first experience in the U.S. was in Newport, Rhode Island, and, then in 1999, he made his way to Charleston, wanting to experience what he saw as the charm of the South, and wanting to better experience American culture. His first job in Charleston was with Bosch, who initially offered him a three-month internship, but at that time he didn’t expect to stay in the States. The sense of community, he states, is much stronger in Ireland, and he currently feels conflicted about whether he wants to return to Ireland or stay here as he gets older. He does state that the Irish are very warmly received here in the States, which he appreciates. Darragh is a realtor in town and runs CharlestonIrish.com and its associated Facebook page, dedicated to helping Irish immigrants in Charleston through business and personal networking. The ultimate goal of the Charleston Irish website is to help build up a well-connected community of Irish immigrants and their businesses in Charleston and the surrounding area.
Paul Flaherty, a former Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, discusses his upbringing as part of an Irish-American family in Boston and in Charleston. The paternal side of his family came from Galway in the early 1900’s and settled in Boston. The lore states that his family goes back to the twelfth century in Ireland. His father, Anthony, was in the Navy, while his mother, Mary, was a homemaker. He is the oldest of five children. He shares fond memories of growing up and being immersed in Irish culture at his grandparents’ house in South Boston, surrounded by a houseful of Irish immigrants and constantly hearing stories about Ireland. Most of the immigrants he came into contact with during childhood had emigrated to the States for work. He briefly discusses the importance of identifying as Americans first, specifically in how his grandparents spoke Gaelic but didn’t pass it on to the next generations, and of the importance of ensuring that the next generation of Irish-Americans are as well-educated as they can be. He also discusses the prevalence of Irish gangs in Boston. One of his main assertions is that, from his perspective, the Irish culture and Irish heritage is severely lacking in Charleston, especially when compared to the culture he was surrounded by in childhood in Boston.
Michael Duffy (b. 1943) discusses his upbringing as part of an Irish-American family in Charleston. His paternal grandfather, William J. Duffy, emigrated from County Donegal, and the family settled in the coal region of Pennsylvania. His mother’s side of the family came over from Clonmel, County Tipperary, through New Orleans and settled in Charleston. Michael travelled to Annagry, in a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region on the West coast of Ireland, on a search for more information about the Duffys, and stumbled upon a pub where he was able to get more information about the Duffys from that region. He has pieced together much of his family’s background since but is still searching for more information. He has travelled numerous times to Ireland and has built numerous friendships through his travels. In his discussion of growing up as an Irish-Catholic in Charleston, he recalls some of the anti-Catholic sentiments he encountered in childhood, specifically the vivid memories of his childhood friend’s mothers asking him peculiar questions about the Pope. He acknowledges that the Catholic church, and the various duties and services associated with it, played a central role in his upbringing. He speaks about the current Irish community in Charleston, and how the Hibernian Society is taking steps to promote Irish culture in the city, whether by bringing Irish music in, or through commemorative or educational events such as the building of the Irish Memorial on Charlotte Street. Michael is immensely proud of his Irish-American background, and of the contributions the Irish-American immigrants have made in the States.
Niall Cahill (b. 1952) describes his experience as an Irish immigrant in Charleston. He grew up in the Ballybough and Ballymount areas of Dublin and attended Christian Brothers schools. His father was a postman, and his mother was in charge of the bed and breakfast that was run out of the family home. Despite his family?s economic success in the mid-sixties, they could not afford to send Niall to university, so he joined the Irish Civil Service. His first experience of the U.S. was as a visitor in the late seventies, and he has traveled much of the country, before deciding to come to the States permanently in 2010, a decision driven by the Civil Service cutting positions and offering him an appealing deal for retirement. He continued his work in procurement here, having earned a Master?s in the field, which helped make him an appealing candidate for hiring in the U.S. As to his experiences in both countries, he misses the sense of camaraderie that he feels is more prevalent in Ireland. Despite this, he remarks that the Irish community in Charleston is invaluable in its support of immigrants like himself.
Born in Horry County, South Carolina, Bryan Rowell came to Sullivan’s Island after World War II. He reminisces about life on the island in the late 1950’s. Rowell soon became active in the political life of the island, serving on the Township Commission for 12 years from 1963 to 1975. While on the Commission he served as Civil Defense Chairman and helped prepare the island for a potential nuclear attack during the Cuban missile crisis. He also recounts the reenactment of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island that was staged in 1966, including a mishap with gunpowder that led to the death of a local teenager. Despite his best efforts to create reasonable ways to keep horses as part of the island ambiance, horses were banned during Rowell’s tenure on the Commission. Bryan Rowell is remembered by many as the member of the Exchange Club who was in charge of the skating rink at the old recreation hall that no longer exists. Rowell also operated a “Variety Store” on the island that sold everything from food to clothing. His other passion has been as a member of the local Baptist Church. Rowell recounts other memories, including conflict with the DOT over access to the Isle of Palms, the local theater productions, and the accretion of land with development of the maritime forest.
Michelle Mapp was born on September 4, 1969 in Bad Kreuznach, Germany where her father, a U.S. Army drill sergeant was stationed. The family moved back to the United States when she was four years old and to the Charleston area when she was thirteen. Mapp attended Brentwood Middle School and Garret High School in North Charleston. She earned a bachelor's degree in Engineering from Clemson University and a Master of Engineering Management at George Washington University. She lived with her husband in Atlanta for several years and then relocated to Charleston in 2000. While teaching math at Stall High in North Charleston she observed the complexity of community factors that affected her students and became more interested in working on public policies. Following this interest, she enrolled in the master's degree program in public administration at the College of Charleston and started working right away with a newly formed organization, the Charleston Housing Trust. In the interview, Mapp discusses in length the need for affordable housing in Charleston and North Charleston and states that regional conversations and plans are needed and still lacking. She explains that affordable housing requires both finding resources but also modifying government building and development regulations. At the end of the interview, Mapp reflects about the Mother Emanuel AME Chuch massacre, the killing of Walter Scott, and systemic racism in Charleston and South Carolina.
The former Charleston mayor discusses family storytelling. He considers himself and his mother's side of the family to be introverted. His father's side are talkative, "Irish" storytellers. Riley shares family lore he received as a child. These include impressions of his father and his political associates, including Senators James F. Byrnes and Fritz Hollings. He also shares family stories and impressions of memorable relatives, including his grandfather J. Edwin Schachte's involvement with the Knights of Columbus, his uncle Lawrence G. Riley's life in the merchant marine, and pranks with his uncle John E. Riley. Riley lore also ties the family to the Civil War through his great grandfather Henry Oliver, a Confederate veteran. After the Civil War, Oliver walked home from Richmond, Virginia. The interview concludes with Rileys childhood memories of World War Two.
Riley discusses his years in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1968-1974). During those years, Riley was part of a small group of young legislators known as the Young Turks, which attempted to pass progressive reforms but faced the opposition of conservative legislators lead by the long-time serving Speaker of the House, Solomon Blatt Sr. Riley discusses his 1968 campaign and the unsuccessful runs of James Clyburn and Herbert Fielding. The interview concludes with Riley reflecting on his wife Charlotte's role and presence in his political career.
Charleston?s longest-serving mayor discusses his experiences as an undergraduate at The Citadel (1960-1964). Prompted by a yearbook photo, Riley shares memories of his classmates, including a company commander with a proclivity for pranks involving wildlife. Riley also reflects on Charleston's Civil War Centennial events, which were part of a year-long national commemoration. Cadets re-enacted the December 1861 firing on the federal supply ship, the Star of the West, which preceded by four months the attack on Fort Sumter that marked the start of the Civil War. Riley recalls his cousin Steve Schachte firing a model cannon at a Star of the West replica from the roof of the family home on Charleston's Battery. Riley also describes his relationship to Thomas Nugent ("The Boo") Courvoisie, a beloved Citadel administrator. A trip to New Orleans as a member of the Summerall Guard during Riley's senior year was especially memorable. He additionally reflects on his early work experiences, including assisting his father in his insurance business and an internship in Congressman Mendel Rivers's office in Washington, DC. Riley concludes with some reflections on the influence of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. on his values.
Riley discusses his close ties to Hillary and Bill Clinton. Riley discusses meeting and supporting Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign. Clinton returned the favor and assisted Riley to keep the federal courthouse downtown. Riley also discusses his discovery and enthusiasm for Barack Obama. Riley explains his support for Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008. He asserts that he has maintained a positive relationship to the Clintons despite opposing the administration's decision to close the Charleston Navy Base. He acknowledges that the campaign to keep the base open distracted him from his campaign for governor in 1994.
The former Charleston mayor discusses the impact of Hurricane Hugo (1989) on the region. He spotlights the emotional toll that it took on area residents and rejects suggestions that the storm benefited Charleston. Hugo elevated Riley's public profile, but he declined to run in the 1990 governor's race. The recovery led to tensions with Federal Emergency Management Authority and Republican officials. Riley expressed gratitude for Senator Ernest Hollings' outspoken criticisms of FEMA. Riley observes that FEMA is more proactive and professional as a result of their failures in 1989.
Riley describes his close relationship with the Carter administration. He discusses receiving a surprise Sunday evening phone call from President Carter and the president's visit to Charleston. Riley also explains how his close ties to the administration aided in the annexation of the Citadel mall into the city of Charleston in 1980.
Charleston's long-serving mayor (1975-2016) discusses the transition from his undergraduate experience at The Citadel (BA 1964) to law school at the University of South Carolina (JD 1967). Hearing loss disqualified Riley for the draft and his pursuit of military service. Riley discusses his social life as a student in Columbia and his August 1966 marriage to Charlotte Douglas deLoach of Camden. Riley describes attending law school with very few women and Jasper Cureton, the first African American to be admitted to the law school since Reconstruction. He also discusses his political activities during law school and internships in the state house, as well as with the law firm of Boyd, Bruton, Knowlton, and Tate. The interview concludes with Riley's memories of a summer 1964 tour of Europe, during which he crossed paths with his future wife, Charlotte.
Riley describes meeting his father's politically-connected friends, including Congressman Mendel Rivers, and Senator and Governors James F. Byrnes, and Fritz Hollings. All close associates of his father. He also recounts his efforts to recruit Ken Burns to support the International African American Museum. Riley compares his father's and J.C. Long's careers in real estate development and civic affairs in Charleston and reveals that his father once considered running for mayor. Riley also explains the problems Charleston faced in the last years of the administration of mayor J. Palmer Gaillard Jr. Riley describes having Citadel President General Mark Clark visit the family home. Riley explains his decision to attend The Citadel and recounts his first year.
The former mayor discusses his love of baseball, a passion he shared with his grandfather who brought him to many Charleston Rebels games. Riley describes seeing Hank Aaron play in the game that broke the color line in Charleston. He later met Aaron as an adult. He explains why he is a Dodgers fan and remembers long lost baseball cards. Riley discusses being senior class president of Bishop England High School. Riley reflects on discovering his hearing impairment as a child and his father's hope for treatment. He eventually decided to purchase hearing aids in anticipation of starting a law practice. He realized he would need help to hear in court. The interview concludes with reminiscences of youth dances and hijinks.
The longtime mayor of Charleston discusses his perceptions of class differences in the city of his youth. He discusses parochial school and his family's summer rituals during their time at the beach on Sullivan's Island. Riley reflects on the African American servants - Lucy McBride, Estelle Fickling, and Ben Frasier - who worked for the Riley family during his childhood. Riley offers fond memories of his Cathedral school teacher, Dot Gnann. He concludes with a discussion of neighborhood life around Tradd Street.
Riley discusses his successful campaign for Mayor of Charleston in 1975. Charleston's long-serving mayor, J. Palmer Gaillard had resigned in April 1975 to accept President Ford's nomination to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs. State Representative Robert R. Woods endorsed Riley after considering his own bid for the mayor's office. Riley also discusses transitioning from state to municipal politics and asserts that he had only intended to serve one term. Rileys involvement in Charles "Pug" Ravenel's unsuccessful gubernatorial run the previous year introduced him to David Rawle, a New York-based media consultant. Rawle agreed to work on the Riley campaign and remained among the mayor's closest associates over the course of his forty years in office. Riley also shares his memories of businessman and civil rights leader Esau Jenkins as well as his first serious political opponent, Nancy Hawk. He concludes with reflections on his family's involvement in the campaign.
The former mayor of Charleston reflects on the first seven months of his retirement and indicates that he is satisfied with the decision not to seek re-election. He also comments on recent protests in cities across the country regarding the use of excessive force by police departments. The bulk of the interview focuses on the events related to Hurricane Hugo in September 1989 and his leadership of the recovery efforts. He discusses the challenge of alerting residents to the coming danger and the need to evacuate without triggering panic. He remembers the evening of the storm, hunkered down in City Hall with key staff. Riley stressed to Police Chief Reuben Greenberg that there should be no looting in the aftermath of the storm. He also discusses key events during the recovery. He concludes with memories of his only Oval Office meeting with President Ronald Reagan, who showed little interest in the discussion of low income housing.
Riley discusses his efforts at revitalizing downtown through the development of the Charleston Place hotel and Waterfront Park. He faced strong opposition to Charleston Place (originally Charleston Center) from preservationists and local merchants, including Maier Hyman. One opponent nearly landed a blow at the conclusion of a city council meeting. Riley also describes the negotiations that took place to acquire properties between Meeting and King Streets and to relocate tenants, including the Washington Light Infantry. The city received critical financial support for King St. revitalization from the US Economic Development Association and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The former mayor of Charleston discusses the troubled origins of the Spoleto Festival - Charleston's performing arts festival that began in 1977. The Charleston events are the US counterpart to the "Festival of Two Worlds" in Spoleto, Italy. Riley recounts the early financial and leadership struggles that led to the departure of festival chairman, Hugh Lane. He also discusses his working relationship with Spoleto's founder, the Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti. During an especially lean year, Riley provided personal funds to keep the festival afloat. Riley also recalls taking some pride in his nickname "Little Black Joe" or "LBJ." Detractors dubbed him LBJ to suggest that he was pandering to the African American community for votes. He concludes with some reflections on police reform early in his tenure. Police Chief John Conroy worked to rid the police force of "thumpers," or those officers prone to violence.
Charleston's long-time mayor discusses policing, comparing chiefs Reuben Greenberg (1982-2005) and his successor, Gregory G. Mullen (2006-present). Riley reflects on the physical and mental health issues that led to Greenberg's retirement. He also recounts the racially charged fights that marred the Sertoma Classic football games in 1977. Riley offers remembrances of civil rights leader Septima P. Clark.
Librarian and educator Kim Williams Odom was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1970. Her family moved to the Jacksonville Military Base in North Carolina when she was in elementary school. Years later, she returned to Charleston as a single mother looking for a better life for herself and her child. She started taking her young daughter to the J.L. Dart Public Library and there she met Cynthia Graham Hurd who became her boss, her mentor, and her best friend. In the interview, Williams Odom tells about her family's deep roots in Charleston and takes pride in her relatives' achievements and contributions to the community. She remembers her struggles to overcome discrimination and succeed in a hostile school environment in North Carolina and tells about her dreams to become a cultural worker. She also talks about her extended career as a public librarian, including her role in the celebration of the J.L. Dart Public Library 85th anniversary and her experience as a manager at the St. Paul's library in Hollywood. She asserts her family's and Graham Hurd's values and ideas shaped her approach to community work. Finally, Williams Odom remembers the day her friend, along with the other eight church members, was killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church. She explains her refusal to let her friend's story to be reduced and defined by the hate and racism that took her life. Instead, she chose to honor Graham Hurd's life and legacy by keeping her work alive and committing her time and energy to several local projects that accomplished that goal. Finally, she states she is taking time to privately mourn her beloved friend.
Deborah Blalock was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1959. When she was two years old, her family moved to James Island. She was a student at Nativity School and Bishop England High School and graduated from the College of Charleston majoring in English. Also, she trained as a hand engraver, working at Litaker's and in her father's business, Shogry's Gold Showcase. Years later, she decided to pursue a new career and attended The Citadel earning a master's degree in counseling. She completed her practicum at New Directions, a program of the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center (CDMHC) and was offered employment immediately after. In 2004, she became the center director. In the interview, Blalock describes CDMHC's daily operations, the partnership with other community organizations, and how services have evolved over the years. She provides a detailed account of the response to the Sofa Super Store fire and the creation of the First Responders Support Team. Finally, she remembers the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel's tragic shooting and tells about the efforts to provide support to the families of the victims since then. At the time of the interview, the families were preparing for the trial of the killer, Dylann Roof.
Thomas Spera (b.1994). His father was born in the USA and his mother in Argentina. They met while on vacation and fell in love. The young couple made Scotch Plains, New Jersey home and there raised Spera and his two youngest siblings. Interested in pursuing a military career, he enrolled at The Citadel. In the interview, Spera recalls his pre-knob week and his time adjusting to The Citadel's culture as a member of the Band Company. He states his appreciation for the Political Science teachers and the value of having well-versed instructors. Spera reflects on his Latino identity and about embracing his Latino roots. Finally, he observes that The Citadel benefits by having a more diverse student body.
Prentiss Avery Walton (b. 1995). His parents met when his father, a USA citizen, was visiting relatives stationed in a military base in Panama. Walton was born in Williamsburg, Virginia but spent most of his childhood in Rock Hill, South Carolina. His mother homeschooled him and his siblings. In 2006, affected by the declining USA economy, the family relocated to Panama. Walton lived there until he was 16 years old and returned to the USA to finish high school and attend college. In the interview, Walton reflects about growing up in a Black-Latino-Muslim family in two different countries. He talks about being a Citadel cadet, his involvement with campus life as a member of National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), the Gay-Straight Alliance, and Student Association for Latin and Spanish Awareness (SALSA), and his dreams and plans for the future. Finally, he tells about his fears related to the effects of Trump's racist rhetoric on his communities.
Carol Tempel was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1941 to first generation Polish and German- Czechoslovakian parents. Her father was a Roman Catholic Democrat and her mother a Missouri Synod Lutheran Republican. She credits her parents' experiences as the foundation for her understanding of civil rights; " I think those experiences are really the thing that helped me understand what the civil-rights movement was all about, what discrimination was all about, what prejudice was all about, because it was founded on knowing people as people." Her father encouraged her to attend college and pursue a career in science even when in 1963 it was an uncommon career choice for a woman. She graduated from Augustana College, majoring in Biology and Secondary Education. Later she pursued a master's degree in Biology and completed her PhD in Educational Leadership. In the interview, Tempel tells about the times when she was denied employment despite her qualifications because of her gender. In 1978, Tempel moved with her husband, George Tempel, and children from Kansas to Charleston. Tempel remembers feeling she was "an anomaly" among the other women. She joined the League of Women Voters and soon was deeply involved in the Equal Rights Movement. She tells about the efforts to reform the legislation in South Carolina, the criticism she received in her own community because of her activism, and finally the frustration when despite all the hard work in 1982 the legislation did not pass. Tempel never stopped working in the community; from ‘82 to ‘88 she served as a chair of the James Island Constituent School Board and was the owner of a small business. In '88, she was hired by Charleston County Schools as curriculum specialist and she worked with the school district in many different capacities until her retirement. She is the president of the American Association of University Women of South Carolina. In the interview, Tempel reflects about the motivations behind her activism, her biggest accomplishments, and what means for her to be a feminist and a southern woman.
Susan K. Dunn (1951) was born in Murray, Kentucky. Her mother was a homemaker and her father, a World War II veteran, was a Methodist Church minister who was very active in the Civil Rights movement. Dunn attended Duke University from 1968 to 1972, and her whole college experience was deeply impacted by the anti-war movement. In this interview, Dunn remembers her days as a student, protesting in the Duke Campus, and marching to DC. After college she decided to become an attorney and attended the University Of North Carolina School Of Law in Chapel Hill. Although it was a predominately male environment she did not face discrimination or problems for being a woman. It was later, when she was looking for a job that she confronted more barriers related not only to her gender but also to the fact that she lacked family connections. After graduation she moved with her husband to Charleston and worked for a small local law firm for a while. Later, she opened her own practice focusing mainly in family law. In 1993, Dunn began litigating in a high profile case known as Ferguson et al V. City of Charleston et all which lasted for more than a decade and was decided by the United States Supreme Court. "It involved a legal challenge to a policy that was basically created by the Charleston City Police and the Medical University. It was a policy that dealt with drug-testing pregnant women and using the criminal procedure to force them into treatment or to arrest them." The Supreme Court held that the policy was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourth Amendment. During all the years living and practicing law in Charleston Dunn has been involved in many causes directly related to protect and advance women's rights. Dunn has devoted her time and energy to many organizations, such as NOW (National Organization of Women), The South Carolina Women Lawyers' Association, and the City of Charleston Women Association. However, she affirms that "probably the place where I've affected more women is representing them in divorces and not charging them an arm and a leg and, you know, trying to, in one way that I could, help them get through that process with their dignity intact".In addition, Dunn worked as a lay minister at the Circular Church from 1999 to 2009. She explains that her church community is very important for her. Finally, Dunn reflects about her life as a mother and professional, and about what it means to her to be a feminist and a southern woman.
Elmire Raven was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1952 and moved to South Carolina in 1989. Since 1991 she has served as the Executive Director of My Sister's House, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides services to domestic violence victims in the Lowcountry area. In this interview, Raven recounts her upbringing, her early awareness of discrimination and her work with the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She also reflects about motherhood, social justice, and what it means for her to be a feminist and a southern woman.
Erin McKee was born in Brooklyn, New York. Right after college, Mckee started her career as a flight attendant with National Airlines. When this company went bankrupt she joined Tower Air. In this interview, Mckee recalls some of the most dangerous, most difficult, and most satisfying moments she experienced working on international flights. In the ‘80s when she started working with the airline industry, flight attendants were expected to look attractive, they have to be slim, have their nails done, and their her hair up. It took time and work to change the requirements for applicants to meet the real focus of the position ‘the main reason that a flight attendant is on the airplane is if there's an emergency, to get you out of that airplane safely. It's not to look good. It's not to serve you meals really. You're there by law, federal regulations, to get people out of a plane in a certain amount of time if there's an emergency." At the end of '80s early '90s McKee and her coworkers organized a union to demand better regulations regarding the scheduling and number of hours they were forced to work. She became the secretary/treasurer of her union and was part of the negotiating committee. Because of her experience, she went to Washington, D. C. to testify before a legislative subcommittee about duty time legislation. Mckee moved to Charleston in 1996 and around 1998 Tower Air closed and she was out of work. She thought that her vast experience with unions would help her to find a job quickly but her background was not seen as an asset in a right to work state. She finally started working with American Income Life Insurance and then with Electrical Workers' Building Trades Local IBEW776. In 2013 she became the President of the State Labor Council (AFL- CIO).
Charles Moore, a member and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 776, was born in Florence, South Carolina, on July 19th, 1961. Soon after, his family moved to the Isle of Palms, where he spent his youth. Directly after graduating from high school, Moore joined the Marine Corps and served from 1979 to 1983. He spent most of his service time overseas, first in Japan and later in Korea. After completing his years of service at the age of twenty, Moore attended Embry-Riddle College in Daytona, Florida, aspiring to become a helicopter pilot. However, he returned to South Carolina before finishing his training and, needing a steady job, decided pursue a civilian job and continued on to join the local union. He explains that transitioning from military life to the union was not difficult, as both systems provided similar structure and order. Moore talks about IBEW, the union which represents electricians and workers of the communication and broadcasting industries, and describes its role in negotiating with contractors and ensuring benefits for the workers. His pride in his work with the union, in his trade, and in the Charleston-based projects on which he has participated is evident. He says proudly, “I can walk around here and see every building I worked in. I’m a part of the community. I love being a part of the community. My children get tired of it because every time we ride around, [I say], ‘Yeah, I built that. I built that.’”
"Herbert Lee Frazier was born at the Charleston Naval Base Hospital. The son of a Navy cook, Herbert grew up wandering King Street, enjoying cartoons, and maturing under the love and support of his close-knit family. Frazier also describes his youth and the neighborhood he grew up in, including the damage it suffered from Hurricane Hugo and the following gentrification. Frazier attended The University of South Carolina, majoring in journalism. Although he gravitated towards an advertising career, he found himself working as an intern at The Post and Courier in a newly integrated news room. Frazier notes that his career in journalism allowed him to “follow his curiosity.” Frazier went on to work at papers such as The State Newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Dallas Times-Herald, in Dallas, Texas, and The Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1990, he was named the journalist of the year by the South Carolina Press Association in recognition of his work with the South Carolina Association of Black Journalists. Frazier also recalls such experiences as teaching at Rhodes University in South Africa, participating in journalism organizations, and leading training sessions in developing countries with the State Department. In the interview, Frazier reflects on the ethics, integrity, and technological advancements in journalism . He also talks about the challenges he faced as an African American journalist and remembers some of the most interesting stories he wrote. "
Born in Newberry, South Carolina on August 21, 1933, Marlene O'Bryant-Seabrook calls herself "an educator who quilts". In 1975, Seabrook became the first African American and second women to join The Citadel as full time faculty and in 2009 she was one of the forty-four fiber artists chosen to participate in an exhibition to honor president Obama's first inauguration. Her quilt entitled "They Paved the Way" and many others she has created are featured in national and international publications and exhibits. A third generation educator, in this interview, she asserts that growing up among teachers left a indelible mark on her which guided her career choices and shaped her attitude towards life's challenges. "If I'm prepared to do something, then the rest of it does not make any difference. It never occurred to me that my being black or female should have stopped me from doing something." Seabrook attended Avery Normal Institute and then pursued higher education at South Carolina State, The Citadel, and finally the University of South Carolina where she completed her Ph.D. During her tenure at The Citadel, she was treated with respect. However,she taught mostly graduate students and only after a year of employment she was allowed to work with cadets, which she did in a very limited fashion. After leaving The Citadel in 1980, she returned to Charleston County Public School System where she worked until she retired "from employment but not from work."
Anthony Wright, renowned locally as "Tony the Peanut Man" was born in Savannah, Georgia on December 12, 1952. He grew up in the segregated Maryville community with his mother and five siblings. He attended Wallace High School and following school integration he went to Moultrie High. He was suspended for a year because he fought with a Caucasian student. He decided to quit school and instead earn his GED. In 1973 enlisted in the United States Army. After his service, Wright was employed by Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, and Lockheed in Charleston. When Lockheed closed, Wright struggled to get a good paying job. Mr. Marion Howard encouraged him to try selling peanuts in the Charleston market. Reluctantly, he decided to give it a try. At the beginning he was shy and other sellers in the market urged him to "be more like Mr. Ben," who was old and beloved peanut seller. Wright created a song and dance that helped him to increase sales. Wright sang, "I got some boiled and I got some toasted, got some stewed and I got some roasted. Oh, yeah, peanut man, uh-huh, catch him if you can because I got the right one baby, uh-huh." Wright's friendly and personable style made him successful and lead to appearances on television and a film. Moreover, his attitude and community involvement earned him the love and recognition of his fellow Charlestonians. Wright's entrepreneur spirit took him to write a comic book, Peanut Man. He used it as a tool to persuade children to follow their dreams. He also looked for ways to expand his business. In the interview he describes his struggles as an African-American vendor to be allowed to sell peanuts at The Citadel, Joe Riley Stadium, and the Daniel Island stadium and also the challenges he experienced when a fire destroyed his business and when a deal to sell can peanuts ended badly. In the interview he asserts being grateful for his life experiences and looking at the future with enthusiasm, "my goal is to be the number one peanut man in the world ... I just want to leave something behind that people can appreciate."
Lutheran Pastor Thulisiwe "Thulie" Beresford was born in Vryheid, South Africa on February 2, 1962. The third of seven children, she grew up in a devoted Lutheran family under the racist system of the apartheid. At age of nine, Beresford and one of her brothers were sent to Swaziland to live with their maternal grandmother and continue their education. Beresford excelled in math and science and in 1984 she graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Biology and a concurrent Diploma in Education. She taught for two years in South Africa and after receiving a scholarship moved to the United States to study at Ohio University in Athens where she earned a Master Degree in Biology. She went back to South Africa for two years and returned to USA to attend the seminary. In this interview, Beresford explains the policies of racial segregation imposed for the apartheid and how they impacted the life of her family and community. She also recalls episodes of violence, persecution, and repression she witnessed when growing up. Beresford also describes her experiences as a South African immigrant in USA. Finally, she tells about her call to become a Lutheran minister and reflects about balancing her roles as a pastor, mother, and wife.
This panel brought together for the first time in the City of Charleston a group of Jewish Cadets who shared their memories in a public forum (September 29, 2013). The program was possible thanks to the collaboration between the Jewish Studies Program at The College of Charleston and The Citadel. Martin Perlmutter introduced the program and Dr. Sam Hines introduced the moderator, Dr. Joelle Neulander. The event was dedicated to the memory of Maurice Fox, Citadel Class 1953. The panelists recall their experiences as Jewish cadets at The Citadel and reflect on how those experiences shaped their lives when they left the institution. All together the panelists experience span over seven decades. They provide a glimpse into the history of The Citadel from the WWII years to the present. The panelist include, Bernard Warshaw, Class of 1942, Bernard Solomon, Class of 1947, Les Bergen, Class of 1969, Steve Josias, Class of 1970, Alan Reyner, Class of 1972 and Jonathan Rosen, Class of 2014.
Bill Carson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in October of 1976, and when he was ten years old his family relocated to James Island, South Carolina. It was around this time that Carson become interested in playing guitar. Carson talks about his formative years, the music that inspired him, and the people who supported him. He reminices how the Jump Little Children’s band members trained and nurtured him and describes them as being “like big brothers” to him and many other young local musicians. Despite participation in a band during his senior year of high school, Carson did not have plans to pursue a music career, and enrolled at the College of Charleston to study philosophy and art. After graduation, Carson began work in a glass shop, but continued playing in different bands in his free time. He remembers his first show, an opening for the band The Groovy Cools which drew a laughably small audience, and his first serious show with a band called Bud Collins. Carson recalls some of his best experiences playing in an ensemble, especially his participation in the Groundhog Concert Day at the Halsey Institute, which brought many of his favorite local musicians together. When asked whether he thought Charleston had a special sound, he stated that he considered Charleston to be special due to its sense of community. Carson recalls the instrumental trio he formed with Ron Wiltrout and Nathan Koci, known as The Opposite of Train, and his 2011 project to document indigenous music on Johns Island. Today, Carson is known for a vast career that includes writing, recording, and performing music, as well as for his collaborative projects and commissioned productions. He also finds time to be a full time elementary school teacher in his community.
"Longshoreman and civil rights unionist Leonard Riley, Jr. was born on August 27th, 1952, in Charleston, South Carolina. A lifelong resident of West Ashley, Riley’s family owned several acres of land which they farmed. To supplement the income from farming, his father worked seasonal jobs to be able to provide for his five children. It was in these seasonal jobs that Leonard Riley, Sr., became the first family member to work the waterfront. Later, his sons, Leonard and Kenneth, followed in his footsteps and would later become union leaders at the ILA local 1422. Riley relays his own introduction to longshoring, describing how he began at the age of eighteen, during the summer before his first year of college. His first day at work left an indelible memory. Riley recalls, ""Yeah, that was—that first day was unbelievable. I thought I was going to die, literally, cramping—all the bottoms of your feet cramping. I'll never forget that day: hands chafed out by getting blisters on the hands. But these guys were used to it, so it didn't bother them. They dragged me through that day."" After beginning his studies at the College of Charleston the following fall, Riley worked at the docks each summer. Though he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology, after graduation Riley realized he truly enjoyed his job at the port. In addition to providing a good income, the job helped him to emerge as a young leader among his co-workers. Reflecting on years past, Riley stresses how drastically the maritime industry has changed due to automatization and stresses the union's crucial role in protecting the workers in a changing landscape. Amongst his memories, the 2002 strike against Nordana shipping stands out. Riley tells of the national and international attention- and international assistance- the conflict generated. He describes how the clash was resolved with the help and solidarity of Spanish dockworkers who forced the company to negotiate. Riley concludes and explains that longshoring has historically been a black industry that can be traced through the years back to slavery."
The Mayor of Charleston discusses the Making Cities Livable International Conference in Charleston in February 2000. He emphasizes the importance of farmers and farmers' markets in Charleston. Riley explains the implementation of an urban growth boundary on John?s Island, which prevents any urban or suburban type developments beyond the boundary. Riley suggests that the urban growth boundary protects farmers from the infringement of developers.
Robert “Rabbit” Lockwood grew up on the South Battery in Charleston, South Carolina. In his interview, Lockwood describes his long and rich family history, which dates back to the earliest Europeans in South Carolina, including two family members who were blockade runners for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Lockwood’s family tradition of seafarers includes his grandfather and great-uncle who were harbor pilots in Charleston. During his early years, he attended Gaud School for Boys and Charleston High before majoring in Civil Engineering at The Citadel. After graduation, Lockwood became an apprentice harbor pilot, working at the Charleston Harbor until he retired at the age of seventy. In his reflections, Lockwood considers himself lucky to have been able to keep this job and avoid the fate of many of his classmates, who served in Vietnam. He also shares some of his more memorable experiences as a harbor pilot.
Gerald G. Mishoe was born in Conway, South Carolina in 1949. He was the son of Conway firefighter Julian Grant Mishoe, who sparked Gerald Mishoe’s love of firefighting. He spent much of his childhood with his father at the firehouse and watching him fight fires. Mishoe moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 1964. After graduating from high school he joined the St. Andrews Parish fire department to work with his father. After retiring and since the death of nine Charleston firefighters at the Sofa Superstore in 2007, Mishoe has been working with the Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team, which helps firefighters cope with the emotional burden associated with their profession. The team has supported nearly six thousand firefighters and their family members. In the interview, Mishoe tells about fires that stand out in his memory, the occasions he felt his life was in danger, and the changes he has witnessed over decades in the firefighting practice. He explains advances in technology have driven some changes, but others have been driven by tragedies, such us the Sofa Super Store fire in Charleston. He details things that went wrong during the fatal 2007 store fire. He states that a thorough evaluation of those failures has lead to improvements in safety protocols, accountability, equipment, and training. Mishoe also reflects on his journey learning to acknowledge his feelings and the effects of untreated trauma on himself and his family. He states that the ‘machismo’ common among first responders constitutes a huge risk for them. He asserts the importance of the work that Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team is doing, helping firefighters to stay in the job and increasing the quality of life. Mishoe’s son carries on the family tradition as a Charleston firefighter.
Jacquelyn Elaine Venning was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where she spent most of her life. Venning describes being raised in a Christian family and her experience in private schools, including Sacred Heart Catholic School and Bishop England, where she was educated until eleventh grade. Venning graduated from Burke High School in 1983. Venning recalls her first job as a shampoo girl, which she got in sixth grade and continued to work at through her schooling. After high school, Venning relates how she fell in love and got married. Her husband then joined the military, which relocated them around the world. Venning describes her experience living internationally in Germany, and in Texas and Georgia before returning to Charleston in 1992. Since then, she has been working with Aramark at The Citadel, first serving in the Mess Hall and later serving as a supervisor in the Daniel Library Java City. In her interview, Venning recalls her apprehension of working in The Citadel’s male-only environment. But she states that her fears quickly dissipated and describes the cadets as having always been gentle and respectful with her and her job enjoyable. Venning recounts the many institutional changes she has experienced during her than twenty-plus years working at The Citadel, including the deeply controversial admission of Sharon Faulkner to the school and later the full inclusion of women to the Corps. Venning concludes with how the food industry has changed over the years and the attempts to unionize The Citadel food workers.
Langhorne A. “Tony” Motley was born 5 June 1938 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the former United States Ambassador to Brazil (1981–83) and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (1983–85). In this interview, he reflects on growing up in Brazil as the son of an American oil executive who died in an airplane crash when Motley was twelve. A graduate of The Citadel (1960), Motley discusses the hazing he and his classmates experienced and remembers that, “we made a pledge that we weren’t going to do that, and I think we held it up.” While in the Air Force, Motley was stationed at Feltwell in England, Walker Air Force Base in New Mexico, Albrook Air Force Base in Panama, Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, and Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. He resigned from the Air Force in June of 1970 to accept a job in Alaska in real estate development. Subsequent interviews on June 4, 2012 and June 9, 2012 explore Motley’s diplomatic career as well as his ongoing relationship to The Citadel.
In this interview, Henry Rittenberg, a Citadel Graduate Class 1938, remembers his experiences as a Jewish cadet. At this time, about five hundred young men were part of the Corps of Cadets but only ten or twelve of them were Jewish. Catholics and Protestants were able to express their faith on campus, but Jewish cadets did not have that privilege. There were no organized Jewish services, a rabbi never visited the campus, and Jewish cadets had to request permission to leave for the High Holy Days. Moreover, The Citadel did not offer accommodations for the Jewish cadets to have kosher food or keep the Shabbat. However, Rittenberg reflects that these kind of religious issues were not very concerning among his peers, commenting they were not ignored but rather they were “under the radar”. In the interview, Rittenberg names other Jewish cadets that attended The Citadel in the 1930s and early 40s. Finally, Rittenberg tells about his participation on ad hoc committees for the Board of Visitors during the 1990s. In that role, he participated in important discussions such as the admission of women to the Corps and the filming of the movie Lords of Discipline based on Pat Conroy’s book of the same name.
Fotografía en color de Juana Torres y sus hijos con una quinceañera en la iglesia Blessed Sacrament. / Color photograph of Juana Torres and her sons with a quinceañera at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.
Norma Hoffman-Davis (1940) was born and lived in Charleston until she left for college in 1957. Hoffman's parents were Ellen Wiley, a school teacher, and Joseph Irvin Hoffman a prominent African American physician who practiced in Charleston until he was in his eighties. In this interview, Hoffman-Davis reflects about growing up in Charleston peninsula, in a time when black and whites lived in the same neighborhoods but all institutions were segregated. She attended a catholic school for blacks, Immaculate Conception, and her family worshiped at St Peter's Catholic Church. Hoffman- Davis remembers the stories of her father, a black doctor, practicing in downtown Charleston and rural Johns Island. She tells about the health care institutions available for black people when she was a child, Cannon Street Hospital and the black section of Roper Hospital and also remembers her father's colleagues. Hoffman-Davis reflects about the mixed results that desegregation brought to the black community in terms of the access to healthcare services, as well as how changes in the healthcare industry have negatively impacted the doctor- patient relationship. Hofmann and her husband Mr. Leonard Davis lived in Detroit Michigan for thirty-eight years. After retirement they move back to the Lowcountry and reside in the house in which her parents used to live.
Rhonda Jones (1970) is a sanitation worker for the City of Charleston, South Carolina. Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York; Rhonda moved south as a teenager to care for her ailing grandparents. A self-described outspoken and aggressive "Northerner," Jones had trouble assimilating into the slowness of life in the Lowcountry. In this interview, she recalls her life as a teenager displaced in Charleston and her efforts to provide for her children. In 2000 Jones applied for employment with the City of Charleston and became one of the first women that worked in sanitation as collector. In a traditionally male dominated environment she faced multiple challenges that included sexual harassment due both being a women and being a lesbian. Furthermore, Jones articulate the struggles that all sanitation workers, regardless their gender, face in their battle for better working conditions and the right to organize a union. At the time of the interview Jones was very involved with Local 1199, an organizing body fighting for the formation of a sanitation workers' union.
Adrian Williams (1970) was born and raised in Charleston, SC. She was among the first female sanitation workers with the City of Charleston. In this interview, Williams recalls her early days growing up in Charleston and Johns Island and asserts that being a sexual abuse survivor made her a strong person who fights for her rights and who understands the sufferings of others. When asked about her source of strength, she affirms that becoming a mother when she was a teenager made her resolute about building a better life for herself and her child. She is particularly grateful for three women that provided support and inspired her: her aunt, her psychotherapist, and an English teacher. After a life crisis, Williams started working as a bus driver with the City of Charleston and later she moved to the sanitation department. She liked it at first. However, soon she discovered the problems that plagued her job which included abusive managers, sexism and sexual harassment, as well as, safety hazards related to the lack of appropriate training and equipment. Williams talks about her experiences as a union organizer, the barriers to engage more workers in the process, and the development of more effective strategies to negotiate with the authorities. This interview brings light to the efforts of the Local 1199C to be recognized by the City of Charleston in 2009.
Fotografía a color de una adolescente, Thalia Orozco, rodeada de dos mujeres y dos hombres. A la derecha, Saul Ramos "El Alacrán" y a la izquierda Samuel Olivera "Cachorro" eran locutores en la estación de radio El Sol 980 AM. En este día, la radio organizaba un concurso de canto del que Thalia fue ganadora. / Color photograph of a teenager, Thalia Orozco, surrounded by two women and two men. The two men were radio hosts at the Spanish Radio Station El Sol 980 AM. On the right, Saul Ramos "El Alacran" and on the left Samuel Olivera "Cachorro." On this day, the radio station organized a singing contest. Thalia Orozco was the winner.
Correspondence from Bill Saunders to Frank Wooten, Associated Editor for the Post and Courier, regarding personal and professional matters. Enclosed letter to the editor regarding Stratford High School.