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A Celebration or Desecration of Black History at McLeod?

Jack Duane
Friends of McLeod
347 Cheves Drive
James Island,

After recently celebrating Black History Month, I find it disturbing how our local leaders and historians have failed to preserve an invaluable piece of African American history at McLeod Plantation. Despite thousands of petitions and strong opposition at City Council Meetings, a school overlay was approved to allow for the American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) to build 21 new buildings and two parking lots. The property was recently sold by the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) to the ACBA under the guise of preservation. The easements and restrictions set forth by the HCF do anything but preserve this national historic treasure.

The HCF states that the college may use all of "the existing structures, except one slave cabin," which shall be "in a restored and preserved condition…for periodic public viewing." Is this how we celebrate Charleston's black history? McLeod Plantation represents the place where African Americans worked the fields; they were excellent boatmen and herdsmen, considered America's first real cowboys. It was the first Freedmen's Bureau in Charleston. It was also the place where the Massachusetts 54th and 55th Regiments (the first all black Union troops) camped, using the main house as a hospital, and where many African Americans, Confederate and Union troops died and are buried. The easements and restrictions make no mention "Area B", which includes the cemeteries and graves.

The HCF also states "the college shall have the right to subdivide Area C (the field) from the rest of the Property." This is one of SC's last remaining intact historical plantations and the option to subdivide and sell the property was not mentioned at the City's Planning Commission or at City Council's Public hearing.

I applaud State Senator, Chip Campsen for supporting the nomination of McLeod Plantation as America's 11th Most Endangered Historic Places and his efforts to establish the South Carolina Conservation Bank to preserve land in SC. I only wish that our local city and county officials could do the same for this very valuable piece of land on James Island that holds so much of our heritage and history - African American history. To find out more, contact the Friends of McLeod at www.mcleodplantation.org .

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