Charleston, South Carolina: Talk Slow, Walk Slow GORGEOUS ESCAPES with Sarah Tucker
There is a beauty and symmetry to the streets of Charleston. The buildings and architecture are enchanting with their porches and the gardens, peeked at through the wrought iron gates, overpowering the senses with mimosa and honeysuckle, jasmine and roses. Like walking into an aromatherapy bath. There is a lot of Englishness in the gardens as many of the plants were taken direct from English and French gardens in Versailles, as the landowners liked to travel through Europe, emulating the lifestyle of the English and French aristocracy and taking with them not only the art and furnishings, but also the plants. The live oaks cast long shadows over the streets which somehow manage to allow brightly coloured four wheel drives and trucks to manoeuvre around horse power of a slower, four legged variety, allowing tourists to sample the historic streets at a slower pace. The people of Charleston talk slow and walk slow. Even in the high end Kings Road, which has the designer labels necking with home brands, every second Sunday in the month, the road becomes pedestrianized from two till six and you can walk along streets and listen to musicians play jazz. There are churches on every street, bells ring in succession, and graveyards and cemetaries (not attached to a church), are places to walk round and meditate. Close your eyes, smell the jasmine, hear the clip clop of horses hooves and you are back in the 1800s.
For the wealth and the walls of each house on each street was built on the backs of slaves. And slavery is still a raw point. While I was there, the headline of the Independent newspaper was on modern day slavery, and even the increase in veganism, focuses on how animals are farmed in conditions which is slavery.
Charleston has an uneasy relationship with its past. Some guides refer to the slaves as slaves. Others call them ‘enslaved people’ because they are ‘people’., which somehow makes it more acceptable. You can kill the practice but the idealogy remains, making some of my fellow black journalists uncomfortable as they talked to people who’s grand parents and great grandparents had been slaves.
Plantations such as Middleton Place, where cotton, indigo, rice made the fortunes of the few, their buildings made of cement, made to look like bricks, things made to look like other things. The land passed on down from father to son. Listen to my podcast to find out more.
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