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African American History in South Carolina

African Americans in South Carolina have a long and vibrant history, beginning in 1540, 130 years before the founding of Charles Town. Several Africans were members of the Hernando DeSoto expedition through the Southeast. According to the chronicles of this expedition, one of these African adventurers fled with the captured Native American “Queen” of Cofitachique and possibly became the first person of African descent to live in the Carolinas.

Although much of African American history is marked by slavery and the fight for equality, it is also varied and deep in its contribution to South Carolina culture. Finding resources for African American genealogical and historical research can be difficult, but determined research can lead to rich rewards for those who can access the right resources. That is where the Richland Library and the Walker Local and Family History Center can be a powerful tool help researchers of African Americans history. Below are some suggested resources to get you started.


Columbia by Vennie Deas-Moore
Amazon Says: South Carolina's capital city enjoys a strong African-American presence, one that has had considerable influence on the growth and development of Columbia's commerce and cultu more...
Amazon Says: South Carolina's capital city enjoys a strong African-American presence, one that has had considerable influence on the growth and development of Columbia's commerce and culture since the city's creation in the late 1700s. The challenges of the antebellum South, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights era, and even the present have shaped a vibrant and dynamic black community, which supplies a wealth of leaders for the city, state, and nation. less...
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Amazon Says: Winner of the Southern Anthropological Society's prestigious James Mooney Award, Uncommon Ground takes a unique archaeological approach to examining early African American lif more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the Southern Anthropological Society's prestigious James Mooney Award, Uncommon Ground takes a unique archaeological approach to examining early African American life. Ferguson shows how black pioneers worked within the bars of bondage to shape their distinct identity and lay a rich foundation for the multicultural adjustments that became colonial America.Through pre-Revolutionary period artifacts gathered from plantations and urban slave communities, Ferguson integrates folklore, history, and research to reveal how these enslaved people actually lived. Impeccably researched and beautifully written. less...
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Amazon Says: Trace, document, record, and write your family's history with this easy-to-read, step-by-step authoritative guide. Finally, here is the fun, easy-to-use guide that A more...
Amazon Says: Trace, document, record, and write your family's history with this easy-to-read, step-by-step authoritative guide. Finally, here is the fun, easy-to-use guide that African Americans have been waiting for since Alex Haley published Roots more than twenty-five years ago. Written by the leading African American professional genealogist in the United States who teaches and lectures widely, Black Roots highlights some of the special problems, solutions, and sources unique to African Americans. Based on solid genealogical principles and designed for those who have little or no experience researching their family's past, but valuable to any genealogist, this book explains everything you need to get started, including: where to search close to home, where to write for records, how to make the best use of libraries and the Internet, and how to organize research, analyze historical documents, and write the family history. THIS GUIDE ALSO INCLUDES: real case histories that illustrate the unique challenges posed to African Americans and how they were solved more than 100 illustrations and photographs of actual documents and records you're likely to encounter when tracing your family tree samples of all the worksheets and forms you'll need to keep your research in order a list of the traps even experienced researchers often fall into that hamper their research less...
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Amazon Says: Lower Richland County encompasses approximately 360 square miles in the heart of South Carolina's geographic center. The Wateree River cradles it to the east, and the Congaree more...
Amazon Says: Lower Richland County encompasses approximately 360 square miles in the heart of South Carolina's geographic center. The Wateree River cradles it to the east, and the Congaree River borders the south and southwest. Virginia settlers discovered this rich land over 250 years ago. They became wealthy planters and accumulated large land tracts, creating plantation systems that sustained the economy. From 1783 until 1820, cotton was the principal cash crop, and the slave population increased tremendously and played a vital role in the development of agriculture and the economy in the area. less...
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Amazon Says: Orangeburg 1968 documents one of the least remembered chapters of America's Civil Rights history the Orangeburg Massacre. On February 8, 1968, over 150 students gathered on th more...
Amazon Says: Orangeburg 1968 documents one of the least remembered chapters of America's Civil Rights history the Orangeburg Massacre. On February 8, 1968, over 150 students gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University to protest the segregation policies of the town s only bowling alley. Amid escalating tensions, students protested by building a bonfire on the edge of the campus. State Highway Patrolmen fired live ammunition into the unarmed group in an attempt to end the protest. Killed were Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, both students at South Carolina State University, and Delano Middleton, a 17-year-old Wilkinson High School student. The Orangeburg Massacre was the first incident of its kind on an American university campus but it received little national attention and almost no mention in histories of the Civil Rights Movement. In producing this outstanding volume, Sonny DuBose, author of The Road to Brown, and Cecil Williams, author-photographer of Out-of-the Box in Dixie, and Freedom and Justice, compiled interviews and photographs of living participants and observers. In addition, participants are included interviewed by Avery Research Institute College of Charleston. Williams exclusive and extraordinary photographs from this publication will also be featured in 10 seconds in Orangeburg, a PBS documentary scheduled in March 2008 and Black Magic, an ESPN program to debut in 2008. less...
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Amazon Says: Because of its large free black population, Charleston provided a case study of black social class stratification and social mobility even before the Civil War. Reconstruction more...
Amazon Says: Because of its large free black population, Charleston provided a case study of black social class stratification and social mobility even before the Civil War. Reconstruction only emphasized that stratification, and Powers examines in detail the aspirations and concessions that shaped the lives of the newly-freed blacks. less...
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Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball
Amazon Says: NATIONAL BESTSELLER "[A] LANDMARK BOOK." --San Francisco Chronicle "POWERFUL." --The New York Times Book Review "GRIPPING." --The Boston Sunday Globe "BRILLIANT." --Th more...
Amazon Says: NATIONAL BESTSELLER "[A] LANDMARK BOOK." --San Francisco Chronicle "POWERFUL." --The New York Times Book Review "GRIPPING." --The Boston Sunday Globe "BRILLIANT." --The New Yorker "EVERYONE SHOULD READ AND LEARN FROM THIS LUMINOUS BOOK...Like Alex Haley's Roots, through which African American history came into national focus...Slaves in the Family has the potential for creating a perceptual shift in the American mind...The book is not only honest in its scrupulous reporting but also personal narrative at its finest."   --San Francisco Chronicle "BALL IS A FIRST-RATE SCHOLAR-JOURNALIST...He's also a good detective, tracking down the many descendants of Ball slaves from New York to California and back in the South and coaxing them, often with some difficulty, to tell their stories...Outside Faulkner, it will be hard to find a more poignant, powerful account of a white man struggling with his and his nation's past." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "A MASTERPIECE...REMARKABLE...It is a work about slaves in the family.  But it is also a large omnium gatherum of enchanting fireside anecdotes, secrets teased out of reluctant fragments from the remote past, the real lives of blacks and whites whose stories had been lost in the disintegrating churn of time until Edward Ball's patient reconstructions."   --The Raleigh News & Observer "A TOUR DE FORCE...The heart of this remarkable book consists of his sleuthing--tracking down and interviewing the descendants of former Ball slaves across the country... Part oral history, this unique family saga is a catharsis and a searching inventory of racially divided American society." --Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review) "A PAGEANTRY OF PASSIONS AND STRUGGLES." --African Sun Times less...
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Amazon Says: The compelling story of a slave, owned by the author's ancestors, who became one of the singular artists of the nineteenth century. He is known today, as he was then, only as more...
Amazon Says: The compelling story of a slave, owned by the author's ancestors, who became one of the singular artists of the nineteenth century. He is known today, as he was then, only as Dave. His pots and storage jars were everyday items, but because of their beauty and massive size, and because Dave signed and inscribed many with poems, they now fetch six figures at auction. We know of no other slave artist who dared to put his name on his work, a dangerous advertisement of literacy.Fascinated by the man and by this troubling family history, Leonard Todd moved from Manhattan to Edgefield, South Carolina, where his ancestors had established a thriving pottery industry in the early 1800s. Todd studied each of Dave's poems for biographical clues, which he pieced together with local records and family letters to create this moving and dramatic chronicle of Dave's life—a story of creative triumph in the midst of slavery. Many of Dave's astounding jars are found now in America's finest museums. 8 pages of color; 31 black & white less...
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Amazon Says: On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls (1839-1915) commandeered a Confederate warship, the Planter, from Charleston harbor and piloted the vessel to cheering seamen of the Union block more...
Amazon Says: On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls (1839-1915) commandeered a Confederate warship, the Planter, from Charleston harbor and piloted the vessel to cheering seamen of the Union blockade, thus securing his place in the annals of Civil War heroics. Slave, pilot, businessman, statesman, U.S. congressman--Smalls played many roles en route to becoming an American icon, but none of his accomplishments was a solo effort. Sociologist Andrew Billingsley offers the first biography of Smalls to assess the influence of his families--black and white, past and present--on his life and enduring legend. In so doing, Billingsley creates a compelling mosaic of evolving black-white social relations in the American South as exemplified by this famous figure and his descendants. Born a slave in Beaufort, South Carolina, Robert Smalls was raised with his master's family and grew up amid an odd balance of privilege and bondage which instilled in him an understanding of and desire for freedom, culminating in his daring bid for freedom in 1862. Smalls served with distinction in the Union forces at the helm of the Planter and, after the war, he returned to Beaufort to buy the home of his former masters--a house that remained at the center of the Smalls family for a century. A founder of the South Carolina Republican Party, Smalls was elected to the state house of representatives, the state senate, and five times to the United States Congress. Throughout the trials and triumphs of his military and public service, he was surrounded by growing family of supporters. Billingsley illustrates how this support system, coupled with Smalls's dogged resilience, empowered him for success. Writing of subsequent generations of the Smalls family, Billingsley delineates the evolving patterns of opportunity, challenge, and change that have been the hallmarks of the African American experience thanks to the selfless investments in freedom and family made by Robert Smalls of South Carolina. less...
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Black Majority by Peter H. Wood
Amazon Says: A groundbreaking study of two cultures in early America. Black Majority won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. more...
Amazon Says: A groundbreaking study of two cultures in early America. Black Majority won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. less...
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Amazon Says: The story of slavery in the colonial New World is, in part, one of rebellion. In Jamaica, Hispaniola, Dutch Surinam and elsewhere, massive uprisings threatened European rule. more...
Amazon Says: The story of slavery in the colonial New World is, in part, one of rebellion. In Jamaica, Hispaniola, Dutch Surinam and elsewhere, massive uprisings threatened European rule. But not in British North America. Between the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and the start of the American Revolution in 1775, the colonies experienced only one notable revolt, on South Carolina's Stono River in 1739, and it lasted a single day. Yet, writes Peter Charles Hoffer, as brief as this event was, historians have misunderstood it--and have thus overlooked its deeper significance. In Cry Liberty, Hoffer provides a deeply researched and finely nuanced narrative of the Stono River conflict, offering uncomfortable insights into American slavery. In particular, he draws on new sources to reexamine this one dramatic day. According to conventional wisdom, recently imported African slaves-warriors in spirit and training-learned of an impending war between England and Spain. Seeking freedom from Spanish authorities, the argument runs, they launched a well-planned uprising in order to escape to Florida. But Hoffer has mined legislative and legal records, land surveys, and first-hand accounts to identify precisely where the fighting began, trace the paths taken by rebels and militia, and offer a new explanation of its causes. Far from a noble, well-crafted revolt, he reveals, the slaves were simply breaking into a store to take what they thought was their due, and chance events put them on a path no participant had originally intended. The truth is a far less heroic, but far more of a human tragedy. Richly researched, crisply told, and unflinchingly honest, this book uncovers the grim truth about the violent wages of slavery and sheds light on why North America had so few slave rebellions. less...
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Amazon Says: This is the poignant story of individual blacks discovering they could expect no help from the law. more...
Amazon Says: This is the poignant story of individual blacks discovering they could expect no help from the law. less...
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