Reconstruction Beaufort County South Carolina…The Real Wakanda
During America’s Reconstruction Era 1861 – 1898, during and after the Civil War, on the east coast of the America, the real “Wakanda” thrived, Beaufort County, South Carolina, the “Queen of the Sea Islands.” In the blockbuster movie, Black Panther, it depicts the fictitious African country, Wakanda ruled by an all-black society just like the real Mitcheville on Hilton Island during Reconstruction. The Sea Islands of Beaufort, South Carolina’s enslaved Africans, were among the first to be freed on November 7, 1861, during the Battle of Port Royal near Hilton Head Island in southern Beaufort County…”The day when big-gun done shoot.”
It was just seven months after the Civil War had begun on April 12, 1861, Beaufort was now under Union control. Soon thousands of newly freed Africans in Beaufort were integrated into social, political, educational and labor systems that were not the norm in other parts of the nation, futuristic in nature like Wakanda. General Robert Smalls, one of the first hero of the Civil War, a former enslaved African, born in Beaufort County rises to notoriety after confiscating a Confederate gunboat and sailing himself along with his family and Black crew members to freedom to “Utopia” Beaufort. King T’Challa, a fictitious hero, Robert Smalls, born April 5, 1839, a real hero and champion for human rights, is the iconic figure of Reconstruction. He became the brave captain of the very same boat that he once was a servant on. He, formerly enslaved became a Congressman, an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln, author of the Compulsory Education Act that gave access to free public education to all people, help to establish the United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot and many other accomplishments.
Beaufort County and South Carolina, like Wakanda, boasted of wealth and advancements for Blacks in many aspects of American society…Penn, Mather, and Beaufort County Normal Training Schools were establised to educate the newly freedman, a Black Lt. Governor was elected in South Carolina, 1st public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and United States Colored Troops (USCT) volunteers were mustered, Combahee River Raid led by Harriet Tubman (the real woman General) where over 700 enslaved Africans were freed at one time on that day in June of 1863, first Memorial Day started and celebrated by USCT and freedmen (Decoration Day May 1, 1865) only to name a few.
RECONSTRUCTION…THE UNTOLD STORY, the latest musical of the Circle Unbroken Gullah Journey from Africa to America Series, written by Anita Singleton Prather, is the true story of the newly freed Gullahs, a people determined to persevere out of the bondage of slavery to self-governing and full citizenship from the ashes of the American Civil War. Award-winning master storyteller, Aunt Pearlie Sue & Gullah kinfolk, bring this profound era of American History alive, that was birthed on the Sea Islands of Beaufort County South Carolina. Step back in time with the nationally acclaimed ensemble’s full-stage musical and experience America’s “Wakanda”, Reconstruction Era Monument…Beaufort County, South Carolina.
Other productions in this series are “Decoration Day,” an Old Fashion Memorial Day and “Gullah Kinfolk Christmas Wish…Freedom Coming.”
“Decoration Day,” is the celebration that was started in Charleston, South Carolina May 1, 1865 shortly after the Civil War by USCT – United States Colored Troops and newly freemen to honor their fallen comrades who had died during the war. It is the inspiration for the creation of South Carolina’s Original Gullah Festival celebrated annually every Memorial Day Weekend.