Finding Barbados in South Carolina
You will find a bit of Barbados everywhere you look in South Carolina when you know how to recognize it. It is in the architecture, the accents, the food, and the culture. Traces of Barbados can be found in the names of people, the plantations, and the systems that brought the first wealth to this colony. It was Barbados that financed the first British expeditions to Carolina in the 1660s and Bajan captains that scouted areas that still bear their names. It was trade with Barbados that brought the capital to build the first settlements. The relationship between Barbados and Carolina continued to shape and mold Carolina through the years for better or worse. Even unwelcomed visitors like the notorious Bajan pirate “Stede Bonnet” made their mark.
The Barbados Legacy Foundation, led by Rhoda Green, is dedicated to digging deep to uncover and tell the stories that bind the Caribbean and the Carolinas.
I found my own story in Charleston, South Carolina and began a lifelong love affair with the area I now call home.
I landed in Charleston, SC in the summer of 1999 without a clue about the city. It was an ad in the newspaper for the “Barbados-Carolina” event being held in the auditorium downtown that was my first introduction to the connection after being in town for only a few days. I received a message from my cousin that revealed that a close friend of the family, Bajan story-teller Alfred Pragnell, was visiting Charleston as well. When I arrived at the event, it was an amazing experience that changed my life.
A book had just come out about my grandfather titled “White Rebel: The Life and Times of TT Lewis” by Gary Lewis. It talked about his triumphs and tribulations as a Barbados politician fighting for the working class. He had died before I was born. When I arrived at the Barbados-Carolina event, I met several people who had been close friends with my grandfather. They gave me new insight into the man he was through their stories. The event also gave me my first introduction to the stories and events that began this colony of a colony. It was here that I first met Rhoda Green and learned about the work that was being done to spread the stories to a wider audience.
I can remember making a trip to the library and reading every history book on the Carolinas I could find. I took photocopies of the pages that mentioned the Barbados expeditions to Carolina in Walter Edgar’s “South Carolina: A History” and sent them to my Bajan aunt Sonya, who would eventually move to Charleston. In the following weeks, I studied the official manual of Charleston history and became a licensed tour guide leading nature and history tours throughout the city and nature preserves.
Now 15 years later, I am constantly telling the stories of Barbados and Carolina in my work as a naturalist, educator, and entrepreneur.
In 2008, the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor (SCNHC) helped sponsor a kayak journey and documentary I made across South Carolina that was awarded an “Innovation in Education” award by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, I work closely with the SCNHC on projects that highlight the natural and cultural splendor of the South Carolina Great Outdoors. Director Michelle McCollum and the SCNHC continue to be a strong partner and supporter of the Barbados-Carolina story and the work of the Barbados Carolina Legacy Foundation.
It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with Dr. Karl Watson and Dr. Henry Fraser at the “Barbados Comes Back to Charleston” event. They were two names that I had often heard from my aunt and family members who had also known my grandfather. Dr. Henry Fraser and Warren Alleyne’s book: “The Barbados-Carolina Connection” was one of the first books that focused on the connections. We are looking forward to Dr. Fraser’s talk scheduled for the upcoming event in Charleston.
Rhoda Green has been the driving force behind the events and activities of the Barbados Carolina Legacy Foundation (BCLF). She has assembled a great team that is sure to produce wonderful things in the future.
It is an honor to be a part of the BCLF. I hope to contribute more of the story, past and present, here in future posts!
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