In June of 2018, I headed back to Charleston, South Carolina for the first time in over 20 years. It was one of those places that stuck with me. The taste of fresh Southern Brewed Tea never escaped my memory nor did the colorful homes on rainbow row, the cobbled streets, or the markets where the enslaved were auctioned off.
Year after year, Charleston has ranked high on the top cities in the world. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I would have to agree.
My return to Charleston was just three years after the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Although it’s been three years, the thoughts of that day loomed in the back of my mind as I stepped out of the airport.
Once I arrived, it was hard to imagine that this beautiful city could be the breeding ground for such hate. During my 24 hours, Charleston was a place where strangers wasted no time cozying up to me at the bar making conversations. This was also the place where strangers eating at a table next to me invited me to join their conversation (on their birthday) and then drive me to my next destination. This was the place where everyone greeted me with a smile.
But underneath those smiles, there is a storied past – one that many don’t want to talk about or openly acknowledge, but one that exists. This was the place, well Ft. Sumter to be exact, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. There are reminders all across the city of its past from the Slave Marts, former plantations, and mansions built by the exploited labor of the enslaved Africans. With those reminders, there are quiet signs of erasure. The Gullah Geechee population is vanishing and touristic places like Hilton Head seem to ignore the African American presence/population who have lived on that land for years.
Certainly 24 hours is not enough time to explore a city such as Charleston and I hope to return again. But this was Charleston in 24 hours:
1) Ate at some highly recommended places including:
- Hominy Grill
- Poogan’s Porch
- Charleston grill
2) Took in some sites with a carriage ride through town
3) Visited the McLeod Plantation Historic Site
4) Went to the Old Slave Mart museum
Lastly, I stayed at the Frances Marion Hotel which was a good base to either walk to places or take a short Uber ride to most places.
Whereto next? Miami and hopefully someplace else in between.