They came off slave ships in Charleston,
clad in chains,
and stripped naked of everything except the courage they needed to accept their new fate.
As families in West Africa, they relied on each other, but far from home on distant shores those bonds were broken. Husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters were separated and independently prepped for sale, bringing new meaning to groomed for success.
The slave mart in Charleston, was the go-to destination…
for traders to wrangle the best price,
as human beings resigned themselves to their new owners and an unfathomable situation.
Imagine the shock and despair they must have felt, rolling down the Avenue of Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation for the first time in slave carts,
wondering about the cluster of buildings by the side of the road…
that would become their future shelter…
as they approached the paddock…
and the manor house.
Boone Hall Plantation of Mount Pleasant, SC continues today as one of America’s oldest working farms, still producing crops after nearly 340 years of activity.
Also noteworthy, Gullah-Geechee heritage continues with sweetgrass basket-coiling skills that have sustained through five generations of descendants of slaves.
Original roadside stands from the “hayday” of basket production still dot the Route 17 landscape, luring everyday customers and tourists to inspect the wares.
However, the trend has traveled to the Charleston City Market,
where the demonstration of sweetwater basket-making is routine…
and sales are brisk,
with up to 300 weavers who remain dedicated to the craft.
At this time, dwindling supplies of lowcountry sweetgrass are protected, and can only be harvested by bonafide ancestors…
guaranteeing a steady stream of basketry to remind us how sweet the courage of a people can be, and how crooked their path to freedom.