Charleston’s active civil rights history was noted Sunday with a new historic marker to remember a sit-in at a site of a once popular five and dime.
A new marker was erected on King Street, at the 1930’s Art Deco building that originally housed the S.H. Kress & Co. lunch counter in Charleston. It was the site of a sit-in on April 1, 1960 by Burke High School students who protested discrimination in public facilities.
The students were arrested and released; many of them became active in the movement that legally changed America’s treatment of its black citizens.
Aurora Harris of the Preservation Society of Charleston said this is one in a series of civil rights history markers.
Charleston is the number one tourist destination in the U.S, but usually touts its other historical sites:
“We are marketed to tourists, and even to locals, as a city that is known and focuses on the hsitory of enslaved Africans and we focus on the Gullah Geechee culture, which has strong connections to that portion of history. Because we have things that are so old already that a lot of times we don’t pay attention to our more recent past, ” said Harris, the community outreach manager for the society.
The society previously placed a marker at James Simmons elementary school, the site of court-ordered segregation. Another is at a site of a tobacco factory strike in which the song “We Shall Overcome” was introduced as a protest song.
Two other markers will be placed in September: one at the site of the Progressive Club on Johns Island and one for the hospital workers strike that took place in 1969 at the Medical College of South Carolina.