The African American Memorial

On October 9, 2010 Drayton Hall dedicated a newly created memorial at the African-American cemetery, known as A Sacred Place, at a public ceremony. The design of the wrought-iron memorial was initiated by nationally renowned Charleston blacksmith Philip Simmons and was fabricated by Simmons’ proteges, cousin Joseph “Ronnie” Pringle and nephew Carlton Simmons.

The event was held to honor the lives of the people of African descent who are laid to rest here and who contributed both to Drayton Hall’s growth and development, and to that of South Carolina and our nation. The origins of this sacred space, where 40 graves are known but where many others likely exist, are in a “burying ground,” likely used originally for enslaved people, identified on a 1790s map. This makes this cemetery one of the oldest African-American cemeteries in the nation still in use.

Distinguished speakers at the dedication included Lonnie Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Dr. Bernard Powers, Associate Chairman of the History Department at the College of Charleston, and Jane Aldrich with the Lowcountry Africana project which has sought to connect historic documents and living descendants of all Drayton-owned properties.

Segments from the event can be seen here:

 

Photo credit: Dan Stewart, Dedication of African American Memorial, October 2010

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