St. Helena Island – US Civil Rights Trail

St. Helena Island – A Place of Hope and Opportunity

St. Helena Island is home to the Penn Center, originally called the Penn School, which was established in 1862 just six months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. The school’s mission was to teach freed slaves trades and how to read in an effort to help them transition into an economically stable lifestyle. By the 1900s, the Penn Center had adopted Booker T. Washington’s model of industrial training, and in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement the center was often used as a meeting place by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

St. Helena Island

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