• Helping Kids Rise

The Historic Penn Center: A Visit With My Ancestors

Over the holiday break, I took a much-needed trip to the beloved Penn Center on St. Helena Island. I’ve visited Penn Center many times before, but on this trip I felt something special. The property was quiet; the wind was rustling through the moss-draped trees. I could feel a spiritual presence all around me.

Penn Center

Penn Center, formerly known as Penn School was one of the first schools for freed slaves. Recently Congressmen Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford introduced a bill to make Penn Center a national monument.

“For generations the story of this era was intentionally manipulated to downplay the civil rights and economic gains made by African-Americans following the Civil War and the pernicious efforts by white Southerners to disfranchise them,” said Clyburn, the highest-ranking black Democrat in Congress. (The Post and Courier)

Penn Center is an important part of South Carolina (and American) History, but for me it is simply a part of MY history. It's where my ancestors once lived and learned. I visit Penn Center as often as I can in hopes of reconnecting with my strong and resilient roots.

Learn more about Penn Center:

Penn Center


In the news: Clyburn, Sanford push to make Penn Center a national monument