Meet new people, learn new skills and discover the history and culture of Columbia and Richland County by volunteering with Historic Columbia at the Mann-Simons Site.
Historic Columbia invites the public to help share the history of the Mann-Simons family and become a volunteer tour guide of the newly interpreted site during the Mann-Simons Site Volunteer Training on Monday, Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. This training session will consist of the following: a sample tour of the site, an overview of the family, history of the site, broad topics related to the site: slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights and urban renewal, and a day in the life of a volunteer, which will cover logistics of giving tours and other opportunities at the site. Volunteer training is free. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided at the training.
Oct. 1 – 31 | All Day Event | Gardens of the Robert Mills House
Scarecrows have taken over the Robert Mills House gardens! This free exhibit features handcrafted scarecrows made by local families, business, organizations and classrooms. On a stroll through the gardens this fall, you’ll see dozens of ghoulish, historic and colorful scarecrows. Keep an eye out for “Sneaky Steve,” a mischievous scarecrow hiding somewhere on the grounds in a new location each week. For information, visit historiccolumbia.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
Thursday, Oct. 5 | 6 – 7:30 p.m. | 4100 Block on Kilbourne St. in Heathwood
Get an inside look at former home of Lester Bates Jr. This architect-designed mid-century home is nestled in the Heathwood neighborhood. Current owners will share stories of curating modern furniture on a budget, as well as a few renovation trials and tribulations. This house showcases some of the most quintessential mid-century furnishings designed by Harvey Probber, Florence Knoll, Thayer Coggins, Heywood-Wakefield, Eero Saarinen, and the architectural style of the home and extensive use of glass and open design concepts to help forge a connection with nature. It was designed by Robert Jackson, Jr., whose firm, Jackson and Miller Architects, also designed Palmetto Health Baptist hospital and the former Maxwell Furniture store on Main Street. Take a walk through a home so carefully restored, you’ll feel like an extra from Mad Men.
Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members, and registration is for members only until Sept. 28. For more information, email or call (803) 252-7742 x 15.
Historic Columbia’s 2017 Preservation Workshop series, presented by Crawlspace Medic, returns in October. Historic Columbia and the Committee for the Restoration and Beautification of Randolph Cemetery (CRBRC) will host a Preservation Workshop at the Seibels House to explore the ins and outs of renovating and maintaining a historic house. The workshop, led by Sean Stucker, director of facilities for Historic Columbia, and Staci Richey, owner of Access Preservation (which specializes in window restoration) and board member of the CRBRC, will lead attendees through a presentation and discussion that offers tips and examines how to plan, outline and manage a home rehab project. Participants will go on to explore work done over the decades at the Seibels House and will have the chance to check out ongoing and recent renovations at several neighboring properties. The Seibels House is located at 1601 Richland St. Light refreshments are included, and tickets for the workshop are $5 for members and $10 for non-members. To purchase tickets, email email@example.com or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
Sunday, Oct. 8 | 2 – 3:30 p.m. | Tour begins at Melrose Park
Explore the Melrose Heights neighborhood with Historic Columbia from 2 – 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 8 during the monthly Second Sunday Stroll presented by Seed Architecture. The guided walking tour will travel through the historic neighborhood, which was recently listed as an historic site on the National Register of Historic Places. Stops will include highlights of various architectural styles, kit homes popular in the 1910s and historic locations in one of Columbia’s earliest suburbs. The tour will begin at Melrose Park located at 1500 Fairview Drive. Tickets are free for members and $8/adult and $5/youth for non-members. To purchase tickets, visit historccolumbia.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
Historic Columbia invites the public to help share the history of the Mann-Simons family and become a volunteer tour guide of the newly interpreted site. This training session will consist of the following: a sample tour of the site, an overview of the family, history of the site, broad topics related to the site: slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights and urban renewal, and a day in the life of a volunteer, which will cover logistics of giving tours and other opportunities at the site. Volunteer training is free. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided at the training.
As a volunteer for Historic Columbia, you will:
Receive a 15 percent discount on purchases at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills.
Enjoy complimentary admission to our historic museums for yourself and members of your immediate family.
Attend special Historic Columbia functions for free or at reduced rates.
Receive a free subscription to Historically Speaking, Historic Columbia’s quarterly newsletter.
Tour and visit other historic site during monthly volunteer meetings and presentations.
Plus, make new friends and share experiences with others who have similar passions.
Grab your flashlights and join Historic Columbia and Elmwood Cemetery staff for guided tours presenting some of Columbia’s eerie and peculiar past by the light of the moon. Different than the regular monthly tours, Spirits Alive! Cemetery Tours feature costumed tour guides, snacks and other Halloween-related activities. Tickets are $8/adults and $4/youth for members and $12/adult and $6/youth for non-members. To purchase tickets, visit historccolumbia.org, email email@example.com, or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
Sunday, Oct. 15 | 1 – 4 p.m. | Woodrow Wilson Family Home
Residents of Richland and Lexington Counties are invited to take a guided tour of one of our historic museums for just $1. This month, visit the Woodrow Wilson Family Home for Dollar Sunday. General admission prices apply for any house tours after the first. Walk-ins welcome! Tours leave at the top of the hour from 1 – 4 p.m. Purchase admission and meet for tours at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills. For information, visit historccolumbia.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
Thursday, Oct. 19 | 7 – 10 p.m. | Robert Mills House & Gardens
Join Historic Columbia’s The Palladium Society (TPS) at the 14th annual Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ fundraiser presented by Jaguar Land Rover Columbia. This annual celebration of live music, delicious barbeque, specialty drinks and an assortment of silent auction items will be held from 7 – 10 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19 on the grounds of the Robert Mills House & Gardens, located at 1616 Blanding Street in downtown Columbia. This year’s silent auction will feature a variety of items, including destination packages to historic cities across the Southeast, experiential packages to explore local cultural sites, behind-the-scenes tours of Columbia’s hot spots, gift cards to restaurants, boutiques, gyms and much more. Ticket prices are $25 for TPS members, $35 for Historic Columbia members and $45 for the general public. Tickets are $50 at the door. All proceeds will support Historic Columbia. For information, visit historccolumbia.org, email email@example.com, or call
Friday, Oct. 27 | 5:30 – 7 p.m. | Robert Mills House Parking Lot
Put on your costume and join Historic Columbia as we bring the fun of Halloween to the Robert Mills House during Trunk or Treat! Children will enjoy trick-or-treating with a twist in a safe and fun environment. Community members and organizations will display decorated trunks filled with candy in the parking lot of the Robert Mills House. Awards and prizes for best costumes and best decorated trunk will be given at 6:45 p.m. Don’t forget to visit the Gift Shop at Robert Mills and check out the Scarecrows in the Garden during this free event!
Trunk or Treat Vehicle Participation: Historic Columbia is accepting registrations for businesses and organizations and families to place a decorated vehicle at the event. This is a great opportunity for businesses and organizations to promote their mission, give away branded merchandise, and hand out candy to hundreds of children at a free community event.
Registered vehicles should arrive between 4:30 and 5:15 p.m. When giving out toys prizes or candy, remember that children will range in age from infants to young teens. Electricity will not be provided to registered vehicles in the event area, so please bring flashlights. Attendance is estimated at 400 families for the event. Please plan accordingly. For information, visit historiccolumbia.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
Group Tours Historic Columbia is happy to arrange a private guided tour for groups of 10 or more with advance registration. Bus tours are available. To schedule a group tour, call (803) 252-1770 x 23 or email email@example.com.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, thousands of people made their way to the Mann-Simons Site for the 39th Annual Jubilee: Festival of Black History & Culture.
Special thanks goes to our wonderful sponsors without whom, this festival would not be possible.
Thanks also to our fantastic vendors, stalwart volunteers, dedicated HC staff and everyone who came out on this beautiful day to celebrate African American music, culture and history in Columbia, South Carolina. See you next year for the 40th Anniversary of Jubilee!
For the whole album of Jubilee 2017 images, CLICK HERE.
If you joined us at Jubilee and are interested in volunteering to give tours of this important house, please consider coming to the Mann-Simons Volunteer Training on Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. to find out more!
This year’s festival will celebrate the lives of two of South Carolina’s most influential musicians—John Blackwell and Skipp Pearson—both of whom died earlier this year.
Blackwell was a Columbia native who landed his breakthrough appearance playing with Patti LaBelle on her Grammy-winning LP, Live! One Night Only. In 2000, Prince recruited Blackwell to play drums in his band, New Power Generation, which he did for more than a decade. Blackwell appears on several of Prince’s LPs, including 2003’s N.E.W.S.
Pearson, South Carolina’s Ambassador of Jazz, was a native of Orangeburg where he purchased his first saxophone for $.50. During his more than 50 year career, Pearson shared the stage with Otis Redding, Parri LaBelle, Miles Davis, and Sam Cooke, among many others. In 2008, Pearson performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball in Washington. For nearly 17 years, he played jazz at Hunter-Gatherer every Thursday.
To honor the memory of these two musicians, the Jubilee Festival will celebrate the musical lineage of South Carolina with a headlining performance by Cheri Maree. Maree is an international recording artist, songwriter and author who brings “soul jazz” to the center stage. A multi-talented vocalist and musician raised in Columbia, S.C., Cheri’s eclectic sound and style have graced the stage with legendary Grammy-winning artists, including Patti LaBelle, Al Jarreau, Hootie and the Blowfish and Brian McKnight.
A handful of other performances from South Carolina musicians – representing a variety of genres, including R&B, jazz, gospel and soul – will take place throughout the festival.
Jubilee will feature historic storytelling, artist demonstrations and family-friendly activities. Throughout the day, guests are invited to take house tours of the Mann-Simons Site and the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House for $1 and take the African American Historic Sites Bus Tour for $2. In addition, there will be a variety of outdoor vendors selling food, beverages, art and wares.
Historic Columbia invites you to experience the free Jubilee festival at the Mann-Simons Site (1403 Richland Street) from 11 am – 6 pm on Saturday, September 16.
By: Candace Cunningham
University of South Carolina
South Carolina’s 1940s teacher salary equalization campaign was one of the state’s most vibrant and impactful moments of black teacher activism. The state’s first three equalization cases—Malissa Theresa Smith, Eugene C. Hunt, and Viola Louis Duvall—originated in Charleston, but Duvall’s case was the only one to make it to federal district court. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) won Duvall’s case in 1944, but they were eager to guarantee salary equalization. When Albert N. Thompson, a teacher at Columbia’s Booker Washington Heights Elementary School, submitted his salary equalization petition to the Richland County School Board on June 7, 1944, the NAACP was more than willing to offer legal support. Thompson’s case would serve as the final nail in the coffin for unequal teacher salaries in South Carolina. The NAACP abandoned the local appeals process, and instead directly petitioned the federal district court.
On May 26, 1945, Judge Waites Waring ruled in Thompson’s favor, concluding that Columbia’s black teachers were entitled to a fair salary plan. Waring believed that since Duvall’s case, the school district had made an effort to alleviate unequal pay, but there was still a “startling disparity” between black and white teachers’ salaries, even when they had the same amount of experience. The Board had to begin a new classification system, effective spring 1946.
The state based the new classification system on the National Teacher Examination (NTE). Some white officials, such as Columbia school superintendent A. C. Flora, were hesitant to support the exam out of concern that it could prove that black teachers were better trained than some white teachers. But despite the overwhelming evidence that black teachers were dedicated professionals, they were also the products of an unequal education system. Ben D. Wood, the NTE creator, predicted that black teachers would score lower than white teachers. The South Carolina State Board of Education did a two-year study that supported Wood’s prediction, and beginning in 1945 all the state’s teachers were required to take the exam. Rev J. A. De Laine—the Clarendon County teacher who became the foremost leader in the state’s desegregation case, Briggs v. Elliott—rightly called the new certification program an “effort to legally dodge an equal salary decision by the Federal Court.”
South Carolina’s use of the NTE not only facilitated unequal salaries between black and white teachers but also emphasized the black community’s preexisting economic disparities. The gap between the highest and lowest paid teachers widened. Those who did well on the exam and earned higher wages were better financially situated to pursue advanced degrees and increase their earning potential. These additional economic and educational achievements helped legitimize the state’s use of standardized testing since white officials could now present this as proof of the exam’s alleged objectivity. Therefore, while race remained the defining factor in teacher salaries, post-NTE remuneration was also bound to individual socioeconomic status.
Nonetheless, the teacher salary equalization campaign also revealed the shifting tides of civil rights activism. These suits helped to increase the NAACP’s southern membership. They were sometimes the first experience African Americans had in formal protests and provided the foundation for a broader protest movement. Indeed, those who participated in the campaign found it transformative and defining. For NAACP secretary Modjeska Simkins the equalization campaign served as a catalyst—a move from racial uplift to protest politics. Furthermore, many of the individuals who helped realize teacher salary equalization—civil rights attorney Harold Boulware, teacher/activist Septima Clark, journalist/politician John McCray, military veteran/activist Osceola McKain, and Modjeska Simkins—would become seminal figures in the state’s civil rights movement. As this campaign transformed activists it also transformed the whole movement.
These individuals are only a few of the people who played a vital role in Columbia’s rich cultural history. To learn more about them and other black Carolinians please join Historic Columbia for one of its Lunch & Learn Series as it celebrates Black History Month, February 21 & 28, 12-1PM at the Mann-Simons Site, 1403 Richland Street.
Today, South Carolina remains one of the most diverse states in the union. According to the 2015 census, nearly 37 percent of South Carolina’s residents identified as a racial minority. Approximately, 28 percent of the state’s population is African American. The state’s racial diversity is grounded in the history of the founding of the colony.
Closely linked to the island of Barbados, South Carolina was the only colony where blacks outnumbered whites at the turn of the eighteenth century. The arrival of African slaves and free people of color from Barbados and a limited number of white women in the colony all contributed to a society that was accepting of racial diversity and interracial relationships. Unlike other southern states including North Carolina and Virginia, South Carolina never adopted a one-drop rule and did not have an anti-miscegenation clause in its constitution until 1865.
Indeed, South Carolina society had changed by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Racial slavery was embedded in its society and whites viewed slavery as their key to prosperity. What did not change about the state, however, was that as such, South Carolina offers a unique opportunity to study race, law and society during the antebellum period.
To learn about the common-law definition of race and how it related to social and political thought on race in antebellum South Carolina, attend Historic Columbia’s Lunch and Learn series from noon – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. This session will be led by guest presenter, Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate at the University of South Carolina and will be held at the Mann-Simons Site located at 1403 Richland Street. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit historiccolumbia.org/BlackHistory, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 803-252-1770 x 23.
This year’s Black History Month recognition comes at an exciting time for Historic Columbia. Only a few months ago, Historic Columbia reopened the Mann-Simons Site with newly installed exhibits, interactive touchscreens, recorded audio and numerous visuals – enhancing the overall experience for each guest. I recently had the opportunity to take a tour and was blown away by the comprehensive updates Historic Columbia had incorporated into the renovation. Each and every display came to life, allowing me to better understand the people, places and stories directly associated with the house I had entered and was exploring.
Two such women the tour discusses are Celia Mann, and her eldest daughter, Agnes Jackson. Both – and so many more – laid substantial and necessary groundwork for African American women, and African American’s in general. In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to highlight their stories by sharing my tour experience. My hope is that this story will encourage you to visit the site and help further broaden Historic Columbia’s message regarding the importance of history, preservation and progress.
On the way to the Mann-Simons Site, I made a concerted effort to turn off my normally hectic inner dialogue, so I could fully engage in the experience I was stepping into. Because the site was undergoing a renovation, slated to reopen with new interactive and social components in a few months, I had the privilege of having a personal tour with a few representatives from Historic Columbia. Historic Columbia manages, maintains and preserves five historic landmark sites in downtown Columbia. Starting the tour outside, I was immediately introduced to the woman for whom the site got its namesake. I did not realize at the time, but later grasped, I would forever remember – Celia Mann.
One of the first things discussed was the fact that Celia was once enslaved in Charleston, South Carolina. After managing to purchase her freedom, she, as well as her husband, Ben Delane, left Charleston and ended up settling in Columbia. Around the property were various ghost structures – steel frames outlining and representing buildings her future family members would own and occupy. Hearing this information gave me chills. The will and resourcefulness to not only survive enslavement, but face odds to make a life for herself, her family and posterity better, as a newly freed African American woman in the divided and very broken South, was somewhat unimaginable.
We made our way around the side and then to back of the house, finally stepping inside the site. With the wood beams creaking and cracking under our feet, we started our way through the interior. Period pieces and replica furniture told of times past; simple, yet obviously difficult and constantly trying.
In the front room, I was told of Celia’s profession as a midwife, a position traditionally held in high regard throughout the community. She, for years, cared for the needs of both white and African American families, in addition to caring for her own children and family. I did not say much as we kept moving through the home, but I could not help putting myself in Celia Mann’s shoes. Her strength – mental, physical and spiritual – was endless.
As we walked in the last room on the tour, the conversation shifted to the latter part of Celia’s life and her offspring. I stood there, taking in the information, when one note caught my eye. It made mention of Celia’s passing stating, “The Daily Phoenix publishes note saying: “Death of a Respected Colored Woman—Celia Mann, an old and respected colored nurse, who was present at the birth of many of our citizens, departed this life yesterday.” A flood of mixed emotions came over me when realizing this formerly enslaved woman had finally received the respect she so deserved. A caged song bird for so many years, finds the will to escape, and soar – not because of that recognition or their acceptance, but because she sought better for herself and her family and achieved what so many came up short in trying to do. It was a true testament to her unwavering perseverance.
While Celia had four daughters, the majority of information presented focused on her youngest, Agnes Jackson. Embodying many of the same traits and qualities as her inspirational mother, Agnes, aided Celia and her family on the site we were standing, in downtown Columbia at the corner of Richland Street. A few years prior to Celia’s death in 1867, Agnes moved in to assist with family matters.
Following in the similar business-minded footsteps of her mother, Agnes provided for her family by becoming a skilled baker and a laundress. Standing tall as another example of a fearless, headstrong and determined African American women, Agnes served in all respects of the word as the ‘head of the household,’ raising, shaping and being an example to her six children – one of which, John Lucius Simons, went on in later years to open a thriving lunch counter on the grounds.
Driving home I couldn’t help but think back on these truly phenomenal women. I knew it was grossly unfair for me to compare my life, my current situation and my circumstances to theirs, however my mind wandered there. Could I have done what they did? Endured what they endured? Pushed as hard as they pushed if the roles were reversed? While I’ll never know the answers to those questions, I could say with complete certainty that I was incredibly thankful to know more about what they overcame for me and my family, my future and for those generations to come. Having had that greater exposure to this particular history, I, by principal, could never forget it. It was imperative I remember it and carry it with me each day. After all, I was one for whom these women fought for.