Beyond Our Walls

Located in North Charleston, Beyond Our Walls helps children reach their academic and social potential through access to technology, resources and mentoring. As a complement, the organization engages parents, caregivers and neighbors through opportunities for volunteering and grassroots advocacy. With help from the Lowcountry Unity Fund, Beyond Our Walls will partner with organizations such as the Avery Research Center, The Citadel, and The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in Savannah to expose children and parents alike to the immense influence of our region’s African heritage.
You may be asking, “how does this project address systemic racism?” As we know, the Charleston we love and enjoy today, along with much of our country, was built by African slaves, humans who were bought and sold as commodities. When we take a horse and carriage tour, visit historic sites and plantations or even sit down at our desks to learn about history in an academic setting, we spend very little time acknowledging and reflecting on the truth about our past. Instead, we spend our efforts focusing on a different story – one that is, at best, rooted in partial truths.
In the decades to follow liberation from the slave trade, many historic victories which have resulted in a more just society were won through the fortitude and perseverance of African American heroes. These men and women marched, boycotted and risked their lives right here at home to move America into a new chapter. Yet, if told at all and correctly, their stories are typically relegated to one month out of the year.
Having attended South Carolina public schools, I can shamefully attest to only learning about Denmark Vesey, Robert Smalls, the Charleston hospital strike, the contributions of Judge Waties Waring, Harriet Tubman’s raid at Combahee Ferry in Beaufort County and the history and significance of the Penn Center as an adult. If we aren’t publicly recognizing these amazing victories and accomplishments, how deeply hidden are the uncomfortable and complicated historic realities that catalyzed them?
The absence of culturally competent perspectives in curricula across our country perpetuates generational blindness to the ways in which systems and institutions allow some people an advantage while holding others back. We cannot address structural racism without owning our history.
Beyond Our Walls is teaching children and parents alike about the significant contributions of our African forefathers, with the hope of broadening the perspective of current and future generations. They are filling a gap to provide a relevant, culturally competent and more complete understanding of the world as we know it today.

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