StoryCorps Charleston 2012

27 11 2012

One of the missions of Friends of Dereef Park is to document oral histories of people who grew up in the neighborhoods of Cannonborough-Elliotborough and Radcliffeborough. The first step was to begin gathering names at the September Revival block party of individuals willing to participate and I’m happy to report we gathered over 20 names and contact details.

The Charleston visit from the StoryCorps project allowed us to act on our mission and I’m thrilled that Friends of Dereef Park was able to sponsor four sessions. The mission of StoryCorps is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives and each session is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. While the sessions are a short 40 minutes and by no means a complete oral history, they do allow us the opportunity to start engaging with residents and they provide a broader platform to share our community stories. We are working to highlight the contributions of all our neighborhood residents and institutions regardless of social, cultural or economic background. Dr. Kerry Taylor’s recent comments on the East Side further demonstrates why it is important we continue to work together to achieve our goals, because regardless of West or East, regular people worked to make a difference in their communities and their stories shouldn’t be forgotten.

“I think about the East Side in the context of Charleston’s broader commemorative landscape–the constellation of plantations, historic homes, carriage tours, and museums through which we explore the past. These are the major attractions for the 4.5 million tourists who come to the area each year. It is a commemorative landscape that by and large projects what I consider to be bad values. These are the values of conspicuous consumption, racism, domination and subordination, and violence. Within the larger framework of historic Charleston, the East Side offers itself as a democratic counterpoint to the Battery as it reflects working class traditions of craft pride, mutual aid, and collective struggle–values that are promising and hopeful.”

Remarks from “Between The Tracks at 25 Symposium,” held at Trident Technical College on October 23, 2012.

Below are some pictures of our participants and stay tuned for our finished project.

Leila Potts-Campbell, Bernard Fielding, and Julia-Ellen Davis – a session on Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr., who lived and worked on Spring Street.



Mary Miller and Lois Simms – a session on the life of Ms. Simms and her witness of the changes in Dereef Park



Rovena Hazel Owens and Peggy Clement – a session on their childhood summers



Ann Blandin, Rosetta Givens Mitchell, and Beatrice Givens– a session on the United Order of Tents




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