Columbia sits at the crossroads of African American history and culture in the state and nation. In stunning detail, the African American Monument on the State House grounds reminds visitors that Columbia bore witness to the great struggles over slavery, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Here African American labor and talents transformed the city and helped develop Waverly, Arsenal Hill and other strong and resilient neighborhoods. Here African Americans built historic Randolph Cemetery, the Mann-Simons Cottage, Allen University, Benedict College, and other enduring religious, commercial, and educational institutions.
Here Robert Brown Elliott, Modjeska Simkins, Matthew J. Perry, and their zealous colleagues battled for social justice and stirred debates that resonated across the country. Here in the midst of the Jazz Renaissance, famed photographer Richard Samuel Roberts used his camera to chronicle a communitys pride, dignity, and creativity. Here dances at the Big Apple, performances at the Township, and films at the Capitol and Carver theatres captivated audiences.
The community’s rich and diverse legacy continues all around us. Take in the architecture of historic Bethel A.M.E. Church, study the clay vessels of Dave the Potter in USC’s McKissick Museum, listen to the swinging sounds of jazz legend Skipp Pearson, experience the excitement of the annual Jubilee and Harambee festivals, and see for yourself that African American history and culture are alive and well in the capital city.