The South Carolina African-American Heritage Commission has recently launched an exciting new mobile travel guide, “The Green Book of South Carolina,” to help residents and visitors from all over the world navigate to the more than 300 African-American cultural sites across the state’s 46 counties.
Named to pay homage to the original “Green Book,” first published in 1936 by New York City postman Victor Green as an African-American travel guide to safe harbors and welcoming establishments across the United States, the guide is a contemporary travel-planning tool, which showcases various cultural points of interest while allowing users to plan a customized travel itinerary.
The “Green Book of South Carolina” is a user-friendly guide designed to resemble standard travel apps, with the mobile user in mind—although it can be easily utilized on desktop and laptop computers. The guide is accessed through a web browser and showcases more than 300 points of interest, all of which have been verified by the National Register or by the state. Each of those entries includes a narrative defining the historic significance of the site, images, a link to directions and a link to a website (if available). Users can browse destination listings by the use of an A to Z directory, on a “zoomable” map or by using categories, including Historic Markers, Historic Churches, Historic Schools and HBCUs, Historic Districts and Sites, Historic Cemeteries and Cultural Attractions. Users can also use tags such as the “Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor” or the “Civil Rights Movement” to locate sites that meet their exact interests.
This guide is long overdue. South Carolina is one of the most popular states for summer tourism in the United States. However, most visitors are unaware of the vast number of African-American cultural and historic sites located throughout the state. Of course, the notable sites are publicized in Visitor’s Centers and highlighted on websites such as TripAdvisor, but this guide calls attention to the hundreds of other sites, including the ones that operate on a much smaller scale—for they are no less significant to the thousands of people who enter the state, as well as the natives who may also be unaware. “With ‘The Green Book of South Carolina’ mobile travel guide, the S.C. African-American Heritage Commission is introducing a game changer for cultural tourism to South Carolina,” said South Carolina Senator Vincent Sheheen, who championed the project. “This is one of the first statewide mobile travel guides to African-American heritage and cultural destinations to be produced by a state anywhere in the U.S., and it is positioned to increase even further the $2.4 billion annual economic impact of African-American tourism in our state.” The guide encourages visitors and residents alike to venture off the beaten path and increase the economic impact for African-American heritage sites and the municipalities in which
they are located.
South Carolina has been a significant part of African-American history since the days of the Middle Passage. Research indicates that most African-Americans in the United States can trace their ancestral connections back to the state, making it a kind of pseudo homeland. This mobile travel guide gives those African-Americans access to discovering and celebrating their heritage and appreciating those roots in an intimate and unique way.
I consider myself a South Carolinian through and through. It is not only where I grew up but also where my mother’s family has called home for generations. I thought I knew quite a bit about the African-American cultural sites that surrounded us, but while exploring “The Green Book of South Carolina” website for myself, I came across dozens that I knew almost nothing about. I was also able to finally put a name to the collection of old slave houses I would pass almost daily as a child, thanks to this guide. Seeing the connections makes me extremely excited about the hundreds of thousands of other connections it will inevitably create.
Below you will find a short list of sites that I think are worth visiting on your next trip to South Carolina:
Located in the state’s capital, the Mann Simons Site was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African-American family from at least 1843 until 1970.
Nicknamed “The Black Pearl,” Atlantic Beach was established around 1934 as an oceanfront community for Blacks denied access to other area beaches because of segregation laws.
Northern missionaries and abolitionists who came to South Carolina after the capture of the Sea Islands by Union troops founded Penn School in 1862. The site and its collection of historic buildings were venues for education, the preservation and interpretation of sea island culture and a strategy meeting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before his March on Washington in 1963.
Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.