Press Releases

Black Businesses of Charleston Oral History Project Launch

preservation-admin , November 8, 2022

NOV. 7, 2022
Sam Spence | 843.722.4630 ext. 23 |


On Tuesday, November 29, 2022 (6-8 PM) at Burke High School, the Preservation Society of Charleston (PSC) will host a launch event for its new Black Businesses of Charleston Oral History Project, in partnership with the Charleston County School District 20 Principal Collaboration Program (D20PCP). This event is free and open to the public and will kick off with a showing of a 15-minute preview video and remarks from project advisors, followed by a closing reception with light refreshments.

The Black Businesses of Charleston Oral History Project is a community-led initiative to document and amplify the under-told stories of Charleston’s historically Black-owned businesses. Through this project, the PSC is partnering with the families of historic Black business owners to elevate these important stories through their own personal experiences.

Education is at the heart of the vision for this project to foster deeper appreciation for the significant impact of Black-owned businesses on Charleston’s culture and economy. Longtime educator, former Charleston County School District Deputy Superintendent, and project advisor Dr. Barbara Dilligard commented, “Everybody — what we call in Gullah-Geechee the ‘Been’yahs’ and the ‘Come’yahs’ — can appreciate the history that this organization is going to share with them, and will learn more about a great city with such great potential.”

“The first thing that we’re doing is listening,” said Brian Turner, President and CEO of the Preservation Society of Charleston. “It’s really key that we not go into this project with our own assumptions about what we think, but to actually use this as a time to have open ears about why places matter to people and what those stories are that help illuminate the past to inspire the present.”

Following the event, the project’s initial four interviews will be available online at

Burke High School has played a significant role in Charleston’s history, especially as it relates to civil rights, making it a fitting location to launch this oral history initiative. Founded in 1910, Burke was the first public high school for African American Charlestonians. Burke students were among the local leaders of early civil rights protests, including a key 1960 demonstration to desegregate downtown lunch counters.

Special thanks to interviewees Jamella Brown Jaglal, Jean Brooks Murphy, Sharon Scott, and Dr. Maxine Smith, as well as oral history consultant Professor Damon Fordham, and videographer Travis Pearson.

This project is supported by the Henry & Sylvia Yaschik Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John Winthrop, Mr. and Mrs. John and Elizabeth Cahill, and the Jean and James Rion Endowment of Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

About the Preservation Society: Founded in 1920, the Preservation Society of Charleston is the oldest grassroots preservation organization in the nation. The Society is more resilient than ever as it enters its second century of recognizing, protecting, and advocating for the Lowcountry’s historic places, while serving as a strong advocacy leader for citizens looking to preserve Charleston’s distinctive character, quality of life, and diverse neighborhoods. For more information on the Preservation Society of Charleston, please visit


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