Victoria Hansen

For Black Women, the 19th Amendment was the Beginning of a Long Fight for Voting Rights

By Victoria Hansen

African American women and men carry signs calling for equal rights in 1963 more than 40 years after the 19th ammendent was passThe 19th amendment promised women the right to vote would not be denied because of gender. But it was an empty promise for women with dark skin. "It's an historical legacy that can't be ignored because it's inconvenient," says Sandra Slater. She's an associate history professor at the College of Charleston and the director of the school's Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program. Slater has been talking a lot about the suffragist movement this year as part of the centennial celebration of the passage of the 19th amendment. She says some of the most notable South Carolina suffragists...

Beaufort Suffragist Shared Gullah Folklore and Educated Black Children

By Victoria Hansen

Christensen family Portrait, Abbie 3rd from rightAnne Christensen Pollitzer lives at the end of a dirt road on Saint Helena Island. The view from her back porch is as stunning as her story. White egrets wade along the marsh as Anne unfolds two large, cardboard displays beside her, spreading them out like wings. Each is filled with old photographs. The retired schoolteacher is prepared to talk about her great-great grandmother Abbie Holmes Christensen , a celebrated suffragist, folklorist and educator. "She was legendary in the family," says Pollitzer. "She was a little, tiny woman, less than five feet tall." Abbie was 12 years-old when her...

Charleston Suffragist Helped Save Historic Architecture

By Victoria Hansen

Miles Brewton house on King Street where Susan Pringle Frost was born and later returned to live out the rest of her life.Susan Pringle Frost was born to a prominent Charleston family and seemed destined for a life of leisure until her father's fertilizer business fell apart after the Civil War. She left boarding school to help her family, first by working as a secretary for an architect and then as a stenographer for the U.S. District Court. "It seems presumptuous to say I understand Miss Sue, but I sort of get some things about her and I just admire her deeply," says Betsy Kirkland Cahill. Cahill is the great-great granddaughter of one of the judges Frost worked for. She learned about the South Carolina...

The Power of the Pollitzer Sisters; Education, Equality and Persuasion

By Victoria Hansen

Anita PollitzerA pale, pink home with contrasting, black shutters sits along 5 Pitt Street in Charleston. Its window boxes overflow with colorful flowers, vibrant like the women who once lived there. An historical marker tells their story. "Hello, we are the Pollitzer sisters," the recording says. "Carrie, Mabel and Anita." It goes on to describe how the sisters grew up in Charleston during the end of the 19th century when women had no voice, no vote and no equal rights. But that didn't stop them. "They went against the grain of society," says Katharine Purcell, an English professor and Director of...

Charleston Sisters' Aversion to Slavery Fuels Fight for Women's Rights

By Victoria Hansen

913bd8af-4248-47ac-a7ea-f942f1a88dc3Lee Ann Bain talks excitedly as she darts from the sun to the shade along Charleston's sweltering city streets. There's hardly a bead of sweat forming on her face. Bain knows how to beat the heat. She's been giving walking tours for 11 years. Bain remembers studying to become a certified guide. There was just a small paragraph about the Grimke sisters. But it catapulted from the page. "I was like, excuse me who are these ladies?" Bain says. "I've never ever heard of them before." So, Bain researched and read, and what she found was fascinating. The Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, grew up...

Charleston Authors Hold onto Hope for Racial Reconcilation

By Victoria Hansen

Crews work to remove the statue of John C. Calhoun from Charleston's Marion Square.  June 24, 2020.In the months following the unimaginable church massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, a poet, a journalist and an historian came together to write a book. They wanted to explain to a nation not only what happened, but why. Why were nine Black parishioners gunned down by a white stranger? Five years later, the authors of "We Are Charleston" find themselves trying to explain again why more African Americans continue to be killed across the country, repeatedly and publicly, this time by white police officers. "You think of all that we went through in this town and all that these...

Calhoun Statue Overlooking Charleston Takes Time to Come Down

By Victoria Hansen

People rush to see the face of John C. Calhoun as the statue is taken down after more than 124 years.  June 24, 2020It’s been nearly impossible to see the face of John C. Calhoun perched atop a more than 100- foot pedestal over the Charleston city skyline for 124 years, but now the likeness of the South Carolina statesman is gone. It took time to take down. Calhoun was a former State Senator and Vice President of the United States. But he was also a well-known advocate of racist policies, especially slavery. The Debate His stature in one of the city’s most prominent parks, Marion Square, has been debated for years. Many thought the figure should come down in 2015 following the murders on nine Black...

Statue of John C. Calhoun Comes Down in Charleston

By Victoria Hansen

John C. Calhoun statue is set down before a cheering crowdA statue of John C. Calhoun has stood atop a perch of more than one hundred feet over Marion Square for 124 years and it was no easy task taking the likeness down. Calhoun was a former State Senator and Vice President of the United States. But he was also well known as an advocate of racist policies and slavery. His stature in one of the city's most prominent parks has been debated for years. There were calls for the figure's removal in 2015 following the murders of nine black parishioners at the hands of a racist gunman at Mother Emanuel AME Church just down the street. Those calls recently...

Chris Singleton, Son of Emanuel AME Shooting Victim, Pens Book for Anniversary

By Victoria Hansen

Chris Singleton's book "Different"Five years ago, Chris Singleton was a carefree college student dreaming of playing professional baseball when he got the call that changed his life. "I'll never forget it," says Singleton. "I was 18 years-old and I got a call from my mom's phone actually and the lady on the other end was saying 'Chris you got to get down here right now something bad happened.' " A stranger welcomed to bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston had pulled out a gun while the parishioner's eyes were closed in prayer. He fired more than 70 rounds leaving nine people dead, including Chris's...

Charleston Business Owners Face Violence Following George Floyd Protests

By Victoria Hansen

Businesses boarded up on King Street in CharlestonThe city that displayed a wealth of grace in the aftermath of the massacre at Mother Emanuel and the shooting death of Walter Scott somehow succumbed Saturday night to the violence erupting nationwide following yet another senseless death, this time thousands of miles away in Minnesota. “The mob just started breaking all the windows,” he says. “Over the next 90 minutes we had roaming gangs of anywhere from eight to 12 people come in.” The Violence Terrified customers fled, as looters trashed his business, stole wine and set fire to the back. Schneider’s son says he heard gunfire up the street...

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