Once upon a time in the late 1960s, in spite of racial tension that existed between blacks and whites in the Charleston area, many black men found refuge in playing checkers on street corners throughout the city. I’ve often wondered why the city didn’t promote and take notice of this simple outlet, which provided such joy for players, huddled together enjoying not only the game but the camaraderie of being together on sunny days, mostly near the Hampton Park-Citadel area.
When I rode into Charleston with my parents from Ravenel, one of the highlights for me was to see those old black men playing checkers.
The game dates back to around 3,000 B.C., according to evidence found during archeological digs in Iraq. Its popularity gained momentum and has been played throughout the Western world for thousands of years.
Although the game has had many versions, it wasn’t until the mid-1500s that rules were written and cemented the version we know today.
The game is still being played all over the world, and with modern-day technology, a person can live in Charleston and play checkers with someone in South Africa through the Internet.
With Charleston poised to elect a new mayor, it is my hope that whoever is elected will take a look back at those old black men who once graced the street corners playing checkers. I’m aware that street corners of today cannot accommodate a checker board, but maybe the new mayor will have some insight, combined with foresight, to set and preserve a sunny area of Charleston where old men, not just black men, can gather and enjoy a simple game of checkers.
Curtis Inabinett Jr.
Ravenel Town Councilman
Old Jacksonboro Road