CarolinasCity Stories

Charleston, SC

The Short Charleston Ghetto Story

Home to the Geechee and Gullah cultures and lifestyles, the Charleston ghetto story is unique and different compared to other cities in the south or around the country.

The entire area, not just the city of Charleston but Summerville, Mt. Pleasant, Berkely County, Monks Corner and the Lowcountry islands, is part of the Geechee culture that has been known to built strong minded people.

Most of people of the Charleston ghetto have an heritage that comes from the people that were originally isolated from the mainland and had very little interactions with other societies, which led to the Geechee culture.

“Gullah is an English-based, creolized language that naturally evolved from the unique circumstances of, and was spoken by slaves in South Carolina and Georgia. It is not a written language…Along with many of the African and English words and expressions, it also contains some other foreign languages…depending on the nationality of the slave owner. The word Gullah is believed to be a mispronunciation of the African word Gora or Gola, which were names of tribes living in Sierra Leone, West Africa.”* – Alphonso Brown

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Black History Charleston SC

The culture of the city, which most people have what sounds to be a West Indian or Caribbean accent, is based on the old times of the African heritage when people were originally brought from Africa or even from the Caribbeans to be forced into slave labor.

In the beginning of Charleston’s history, most blacks lived separate from mostly everything that was not part of their community and culture, until bridges were built connecting the different societies.

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The Lowcountry, which was originally founded by white settlers, would later become the home for African slaves as the white settlers were not as able to survive the conditions of the Lowcountry as the newly arrived African slaves were.

Like most southern cities, Charleston began to decline between the early 1900s and mid-1900s as many people were leaving the Lowcountry and other parts of the Charleston for communities in the northern states of America.

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Present Day “ChuckTown”

The rebuilding and redeveloping of certain neighborhoods is slowly changing the culture of the Charleston ghetto, as the black population of the city of Charleston is becoming smaller in size, while African-Americans are relocating into other communities.

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South Carolina’s most luxurious, expensive and historic city has a city center that lies in the Downtown area, which is the section that is seeing the most gentrification.

As you go into different blocks of the downtown area, around King Street or Meeting Street, you will see people who are less fortunate living side by side with people of the upper class.

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As stated above, the actual city of Charleston is losing its black communities with most people moving and living areas like West Ashley, North Charleston or other communities throughout the surrounding areas of the Charleston metropolitan.

The city of Charleston is still one of the Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations, but with the gentrification of the Charleston ghetto the original black community seems to be destined for other locations in the city.

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Check out more on the Carolina’s from TheRealStreetz.

Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

Charleston Black History Sources:

*Brown, Alphonso. A Gullah Guide to Charleston: Walking Through Black History. The History Press. 2008
Estes, Steve. “Charleston in Black and White: Race and Power in the South…”.The University of North Carolina Press. 2015.