Can Mitchelville Be Preserved?
South Carolina SC African-Americans Mitchelville Can Mitchelville Be Preserved?
Mitchelville is one of the most significant African-American archaeological sites in the Southeast. It is one of the few that is nearly intact and offers the potential to learn even more about the lives of the early freedmen. It provides another perspective to previous studies of the "Port Royal Experiment." The presence of Mitchelville also provides evidence of the ability of blacks to govern, educate, and care for themselves absent the bonds of slavery.
A Freedman's Bureau officer in the South noted that the black people "love to congregate in families, in groups, in villages." This strong social bond, in part, may explain the cohesiveness of Mitchelville over its history as a town of nearly two decades. It may also help explain its continued existence into the twentieth century as a kin based community.
A portion of the site has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A historical marker for the village has been approved by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and funded by the Town of Hilton Head Island and Chicora Foundation.
But neither the significance of Mitchelville, nor the efforts taken to recognize that importance, ensure its survival. Mitchelville will be preserved only if the public believes that it is important to recognize - and save for future generations - the place where freedom began for South Carolina's plantation slaves during the Civil War.
St. James Baptist Church in Mitchelville
(Mike Stroud, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)
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