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East Side: Black History on the Charleston Peninsula

Hampstead Village, affectionately known as the East Side, is the second community to be featured in the #CHSPenBlackHistory series. Charleston’s East Side was once the largest community of free black craftsmen in the nation. 

Beloved Community Members

Philip Simmons: (1912-2009) Nationally acclaimed artisan. Blacksmith. At only 8-years-old, Simmons was sent to the East Side from Daniel Island to pursue his education. His work has been featured in the Smithsonian and National Museum of American History, as well as many local galleries and museums. 

Edward Jones: Basketball coach. Mentor. Jones coaches the East Side’s youth on and off the court. He was a first-hand witness of how street violence negatively impacted communities, so he made sure his players were too tired to get into any trouble after practice. He’s currently an East Side Community Development Corporation board member, and co-founder of Concerned Citizens of the Lowcountry/Peninsula

Edward Jones - Enough Pie
Edward Jones Source: Post and Courier

T.C. Drayton: Lifelong resident. City community liaison specialist. Drayton helped her East Side community members find jobs. Drayton literally met people where they were. She was known for approaching her neighbors in churches, grocery stores and even bars to talk about employment opportunities. In her honor, there’s a T.C. Drayton Scholarship Fund for students of the East Side community.

East Side Gems

Cigar Factory: Nicknamed “Cremo College” because of its young staff, the Cigar Factory mass produced Certified Cremo and Roi-Tan cigars. Although both black and white women and men were hired, floors of the Cigar Factory were separated by race and assembly lines by gender. Black and white members of the Local 15 union group joined forces to fight for racial and gender divisions, as well as improving working conditions. The factory laid off 900 workers in 1966, and eventually closed its doors in 1973.  

Cigar Factory Strike Flyer - Enough Pie
Flyer for Cigar Factory workers’ union meeting at Morris Street Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1945, courtesy of the South Carolina Historical Society

Hannibal’s Kitchen: Located on Blake Street, Hannibal’s has been “feeding the soul of the city” for over 40 years. While it may be described as a “hole in the wall” to some, the food deserves 5-star ratings. We hear their crab rice is a must-have! 

Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Pool: Opened in 1968 on Jackson Street, the MLK Pool is one of two of Charleston’s year-round pools. The Olympic sized swimming pool is next to another East Side gem, Martin Park Playground–home to Midnight Basketball.

Do you have any #CHSPenBlackHistory stories you’d like to share about the East Side? Leave a comment on this post, or Tweet us!


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