Braydon and I lived for a year in Mt. Pleasant (we worked in downtown Charleston), and spent a lot of time exploring Sullivan’s and Isle of Palms. This area holds so much history — especially African-American history. Little did we know then that we’d be back doing many of the same explorations — all these 20 years later — with our African/Haitian-American kids. It is pretty profound, to say the least.Sullivan’s Island was the point-of-entry for a huge number of the original slaves taken to the U.S.A. This makes it, in a way, the “Ellis Island” of Black America. K&O did a big section on immigration/Ellis Island this year in 4th Grade History. They even had a field trip to Ellis Island. It was stunning and eye-opening for them to make the realization that Sullivan’s Island is not in any of those history books or school curriculum.There is nothing like learning African-American history in the epicenter of African-American history.The primary reason for our trip, however, was to visit Fort Moultrie. Last year — for Kyle (our History Enthusiast) — we went to Fort Sumter, so this year it was Fort Moultrie. This is Kyle’s idea of a great way to spend a day.
But after a [pretty short] span of time of happy family togetherness and everything going smoothly (i.e., Owen and Meera being diligently cooperative for the sake of their brother’s history fanaticism), things fall apart quickly on these sorts of expeditions. We’ve got one kid who has an infinite attention span for these sorts of things, and two who have the attention span of a two-year-old for these sorts of things. Braydon and I always revert to our Divide-and-Conquer strategies in these scenarios; Braydon takes Kyle to do the deep dive, and I take the terrible-twosome to do whatever we can to skim along the surface without a major meltdown. If you ask Kyle, he’ll say Fort Moultrie was, “awesome!” If you ask Owen and Meera, they’ll say Fort Moultrie was, “something they did for their brother.”
Next up was The Bench By the Road at Sullivan’s Island. If you don’t know about the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench By the Road Project, you really need to learn about it (click here for main webpage).
“There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi.” ~Toni Morrison
Next, we headed into Charleston, for, of course, Sticky Fingers — our favorite bbq. It was good. Ribs, chicken, collards, corn, what could be bad??? And just to note: Owen eats a full slab of ribs on his own now.Speaking of Owen… his favorite treat in the entire world is that decadent Southern delicacy, the pecan praline. And there’s only one perfect place to get them: Market Street Sweets in Charleston. He’d been waiting a year for this. We got him 1.5 pounds. They were gone within 24 hours.Downtown Charleston is always just so drippingly gorgeous. I love to just walk the streets and luxuriate in it. It is so overwhelmingly gorgeous that it is almost too much to take in. Braydon and I are at such a loss as to how to capture it, that we don’t even try.
We made our way down to the fountains. These have always been beloved by our kids. This year Owen and Meera played in them……while Kyle chose a different spot. This guy has a lot on his mind these days, and we can see him changing from a fountain-playing little boy to a deeply-thinking young man. It is a scary, beautiful, true joy to witness.We ended our day at Emanuel AME Church (I posted about that here), before heading back “home” to Harbor Island.