Charleston has a disproportionate number of black history sites compared with other parts of the state, largely because the harbor was a main point of entry for enslaved Africans, and because the area's rice plantations, which relied on slave labor, generated so much wealth.

Among Charleston's most noteworthy black history sites are the following: 

1. "Mother" Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St., a historic congregation co-started by the former slave Denmark Vesey, and the site of a 2015 mass shooting by a white supremacist.

2. The Medical University of South Carolina, downtown Charleston, where black hospital workers went on strike in 1969, garnering support from Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young and others.

3. The old Kress drugstore at 281 King St., where courageous Burke High School students, inspired by the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, organized a sit-in of their own on April 1, 1960. 

4. The Cigar Factory, 701 East Bay St. at Columbus Street, where black and white workers went on strike in 1944, and where exploited employees sang the song "I Will Overcome," which later would become the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."

5. Philip Simmons' Museum House, 30 1/2 Blake St., and Philip Simmons Gardens, between Anson and Menotti streets by St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church, which celebrates the life of Charleston's remarkable blacksmith.

6. Denmark Vesey monument in Hampton Park, which honors the carpenter who had purchased his freedom near the turn of the 19th century and, in 1822, attempted to organize a rebellion in an effort to liberate the city's slaves.

7. The site of the Progressive Club, 3377 River Road on Johns Island, which once included a community center that served as a base for activists Esau Jenkins and Septima Clark.

8. Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall, Boone Hall Plantation, McCleod Plantation and others where slaves labored in rice fields and helped make Charleston area planters rich.

There are other sites to see — the downtown Charleston site of the Jenkins Orphanage, which produced remarkable musicians that helped define the jazz genre; the Avery Research Center, formerly the Avery Normal Institute and now a part of the College of Charleston, which among other things houses an important archive devoted to black history; and the statue of J. Waties Waring at the federal courthouse, which celebrates the man whose dissenting opinion in the Briggs v. Elliott case paved the way to the dismantling of legal segregation.

Contact Adam Parker at or 843-937-5902.