By Luana M. Graves Sellars

Everywhere in the world, the word magic is reminiscent of a parlor trick, but at Hilton Head’s Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, M.A.G.I.C. means that local teens are gaining important skills that will serve them a life time. The concept that “it takes a village to raise a child”, is one of the key cornerstones of Gullah culture and the notion that wisdom and knowledge should be passed down from generation to generation, is a rich cultural tradition that continues on Hilton Head.

In March of 2019, the Mitchelville Preservation Project began its M.A.G.I.C. Program, which stands for Modeling our Ancestors to Generate Influence and Change. The program, in its first session, is comprised of 13 teens, between the 8th – 11th grades. Through the program, the teens are learning about Gullah history and our island’s cultural treasure, Historic Mitchelville, so that eventually, they will be the faces and voice of the park and culture as docents, as they pass their passion and knowledge to park attendees.

“M.A.G.I.C. is an opportunity to use the importance of Mitchelville with willpower and imagination to show how the story is important,” says Ahmad Ward, the Executive Director of the Mitchelville Preservation Project. “We are using this to model their behaviors just like their ancestors. Through the program, they learn to appreciate the significance of Mitchelville as they foster leadership skills, as well as a better connection to the place that they live and understand the value of where they live.” 

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park Visitors On A Tour With M.A.G.I.C, Program Teens
Photo Credit: Mitchelville Freedom Park

Building self-confident teens with a stronger sense of self, is another one of the program’s goals. Each time the program meets, the teens are exposed to a variety of activities, experiences and speakers, including historians, character actors and Gullah storytellers who motivate and strategically build upon their growing knowledge base. Each of the presenters have direct ties to the community and were specifically chosen because of their diverse and varied backgrounds; which in turn, provides the teens with a broad range of their expertise. 

According to Jazmin Graves Sellars, the program’s M.A.G.I.C. Facilitator, “in addition to learning more about the incredible impact that Mitchelville had on the island and in the Civil War, the kids will get life skills that they’ll be able to use not only in college, but in the future. Through the program, they are receiving leadership development skills that include writing and public speaking.”

Once the teens complete the program, they will become ambassadors and more importantly, cultural influencers, for not just the tourists who visit the park, but for their families, as well as their peers. The ultimate impact of the program, is yet to be seen, however, minimally, it’s developing future community leaders, who will be able to spread the importance of the Mitchelville story for a lifetime.

If you haven’t been to the Historic Mitchellville Freedom Park for a tour lately, stop by. There are so many new and exciting programs that are going on. And who knows? While there, you might be able to experience some of the M.A.G.I.C..

For more information or to schedule a visit, contact the offices for Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, 843-255-7301.

Follow these links for more information about Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, the first self-governed town for freedmen, the Lowcountry Heritage Trail and Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort, SC or Beaufort County |Ground Zero for Our Nation’s Heritage Tourism

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