“Hello, Greetings, Blessings, and Welcome Y’all!” are things we often tell people who come to visit Charleston. As southerners, we are quick to open our arms to visitors, especially tourists, because they put money in the back pockets of our ever growing, forever gentrifying communities. With two high profile cases unfolding in the Holy City, the Roof and Slager cases, many people are fearful of outside agitators, protestors, and visiting organizers. But I wanted to take time to open my arms and welcome y’all to Charleston, a city that has been home to community organizers and activists, like Mary Moultrie, Septima P. Clark, Denmark Vesey and the Grimke Sisters. Charleston is the home for uprisings, rebellions, and pushing against injustice that harms Black people.
Community organizing is sparse and has been hard to push in a town that profits off of antebellum themes and a rhetoric that promotes unity and hospitality (re: #CharlestonStrong). It’s time we reassess what makes Charleston strong. A strong Charleston was built by Black bricklayers, blacksmiths, and enslaved Black bodies. It is a recognition of the freedom that our ancestors dreamed about, the same dreams they organized for, and the legacies they have left us. A #CharlestonStrong is one that makes room for those of us who want to mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living. We will be a Charleston Strong when we recognize and honor the legacy of Blackness that is so much more than claiming our work as servitude. We will be a Charleston Strong when we fight for and invest in Burke High School, and we will be Charleston Strong when we say that Black Lives Matter before we claim the strength of our city. To all the local Charlestonians or visitors, who are angry as hell, still grieving from the tragedies that have plagued Charleston for the past year or hundreds of years, or for those who are anxious about the outcome of these trials, welcome to the “friendliest city in the south”.