{ SC's February Calendar + Our Featured SC Event }

February 27  —  This year's February Calendar of Events is brought to you by Charleston's 7th Annual Brewvival, a celebration of craft beer's finest and the community that surrounds it. Each beer is hand-selected from our favorite breweries – local, regional, American, or otherwise – and presented in a fun outdoor environment, quite often by the folks who make it. Live music, friendly food vendors, and the occasional speaker round out the afternoon, but beer takes the center stage. Expect a wide variety of styles and serving methods, ranging from semi-common to impossibly rare, all of which are available to ticketholders while the day's supplies last. Brewvival welcomes beer geeks, casual craft drinkers, and novices alike. It's a festival full of exclusive beers that excludes no one. It's a festival full of VIPs, because there are no VIPs.

{ Honoring SC Native Ronald McNair: 30 Years Since the Challenger }

If you are like us, you remember exactly where you were when you learned the Challenger space shuttle had exploded, killing all seven astronauts on board. In my case, I watched it live, in Mrs. Jean Beus's fifth-grade classroom. What many don't know is that one of these astronauts came from our own state. Today, on the thirtieth anniversary of his death, we honor Ronald McNair, one of South Carolina's finest sons. — Robin

Among the most illustrious figures in the history of South Carolina was Lake City native Dr. Ronald E. McNair. Though McNair is widely remembered as one of the seven astronauts killed in the January 28, 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, he led a distinguished life on the ground as well. In addition to logging 191 hours in space on the Challenger's February, 1984 mission, McNair was a renowned laser physicist, fifth-degree black belt and karate champion, saxophonist and composer, and husband and father. The below park and museum honor the life and many accomplishments of Dr. McNair, who was 35 when he died.

(Linda Brown © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

Planning for the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Memorial Park in the astronaut's home town began in 1989 as a collaboration among the Ronald McNair Committee, a community organization dedicated to opening a McNair museum; the City of Lake City; and the Lake City Library Board. The city broke ground on the park in 1991, and it was dedicated on February 11, 1992, eight years to the day of McNair's completed mission as a specialist on the Challenger's first landing at Kennedy Space Center. Three years later, a life-sized bronze sculpture of McNair, created by Detroit artist Ed Chesney, was added to the park along with a granite memorial to McNair made by the Coastal Monument Company in Conway. Both can be seen below.

(Linda Brown © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

The memorial contains inscriptions outlining many of McNair's achievements. Born on October 21, 1950, McNair was educated in Florence County's segregated public schools. Following his 1967 graduation from Carver High School - now Ronald E. McNair Middle School - McNair went on to North Carolina A&T State University, earning a bachelor of science degree in physics in 1971. From there he studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a doctorate of philosophy in physics in 1976. It was during his time at MIT that McNair immersed himself in the study of lasers, and upon earning his doctoral degree, he became a laser physicist with Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. He then qualified to become a NASA mission specialist in 1979 after completing a year of training. He became the second African-American in space in 1984.

(Linda Brown © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

Standing alone within the park is McNair's tomb, seen below. In June of 2004, McNair's remains were relocated from his original burial site within Rest Lawn Memorial Cemetery, about five miles from the park, to their current location. The tomb is flanked by the American flag and the South Carolina flag while the Christian flag stands in the center. A gas-lit flame protected within a lamp flickers before the tomb, and the sepulcher is surrounded by water.

(Linda Brown © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

A newer addition to the park is the Ronald McNair Life History Center, seen below, which opened in 2011. The center is a museum dedicated to McNair and is the result of the Ronald McNair Committee, which worked for years to open a Lake City museum to honor the late astronaut. The museum is housed in a building that bears a story from McNair's boyhood in the segregated South. Once a public library, this building was the site where a nine-year-old McNair attempted to check out science books in 1959. The librarian denied McNair the books based on his race.

(Linda Brown © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

In a peaceful act of defiance, the young McNair told the librarian that he would patiently wait for her to allow him to check out the books. In response, the librarian called the police to resolve the situation. McNair's mother was also called to the library. Upon arriving, the police persuaded the librarian to let McNair check out the books. Today, the library that once tried to prohibit McNair from checking out books now stands as a museum in his honor. The account has been retold in a children's book, Ron's Big Mission, by Corrine J. Naden and Rose J. Blue. The Ronald E. McNair Life History Center hopes to expand into a science and technology museum.

{ Meet Our Photographers, Series No. 8: Linda Brown }

Linda Brown is a true South Carolina gem! Not only does she send us beautiful photos of interesting places, but she includes historic details to accompany each picture. Her career as an editor and her interest in local history are evident in her submissions, which range from historic buildings in Williamsburg County to farms along the Grand Strand. We are big fans of Linda's work and always enjoy hearing from her, as she shares countless stories and anecdotes, giving new life to structures that have been around for decades. But don't take it from us – go to the SC Picture Project and enjoy Linda's photos and stories for yourself!

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