By Luana M. Graves Sellars

The Mitchelville Preservation Project was formed 10 years ago by a group of local residents who saw the historical value of the community that they grew up in, and the importance of keeping the legacy of Mitchelville alive for current and future generations. The project was developed to “help create an understanding of who the people were and what they were able to achieve,” says Joyce Wright, organization’s project manager. What’s interesting about the project is that it is evolving from merely telling the story of America’s past, into using the story to shape the future of the island as well. They have had many successes, including establishing Mitchelville as a significant part in the Underground Railroad. Mitchelville has recently been added as a member of the U.S. National Parks’ annual Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Conference.

Mitchelville is much more than an old plot of land. It’s the birthplace of blacks who became free from a life of bondage. A place where slaves were given a chance to self-govern and establish roots of their own in a land that they had adopted as their own, as well as maintain culture and traditions that continue today. The Mitchelville Preservation Project has been and continues to collect stories and artifacts that demonstrate the richness of the story of Mitchelville.  The project has done well with establishing Mitchellville’s exhibit and park, however, their work is far from over. The project continues to search for stories and artifacts from past and present native islanders. Part of its growth means that it also needs permanent structures for a welcome center and museum to be built within Mitchelville so that the collection can be housed in one place, and displayed in a way that captures the imagination and maximizes its historical value.

The Mitchelville Preservation Project has also been recognized as a potential co-host for the 2016 Underground Railroad Conference. If you haven’t already experienced Mitchelville, the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is located on Beach City Road at Fish Creek Park, where you can step back in time while on a self-guided tour that lays out the way in which Mitchelville was set up long ago. In addition to the park, you explore the Mitchelville Exhibit, created by the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina. The exhibit is on display at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. If you are unable to get to the park or the exhibit, tune into NBC this month for a documentary on Mitchelville and its historical significance.

For more information on the Mitchelville Preservation Project, go to www.exploremitchelville.org.

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

© Lowcountry Gullah LLC and www.lowcountrygullah.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lowcountry Gullah and www.lowcountrygullah.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.