Penn School, St. Helena Island

Penn School, St. Helena Island

The Penn School, is an African-American cultural and educational center in the Corners Community, on Saint Helena Island. Founded in 1862 by Quaker and Unitarian missionaries from Pennsylvania, it was the first school founded in the Southern United States specifically for the education of African-Americans. It provided critical educational facilities to Gullah slaves freed after plantation owners fled the island. (Wikipedia)

Penn School, St. Helena Island
Penn School, St. Helena Island

The campus was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1974. Darrah Hall and Brick Baptist Church on the campus were declared part of Reconstruction Era National Monument in January 2017. In spring of 2019, it became the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park, along with Fort Sumter.

Penn School, St. Helena Island
Penn School, St. Helena Island
Penn School, St. Helena Island
Penn School, St. Helena Island

Penn Center thrived until a bridge was finally built connecting the island to the South Carolina mainland. Unable to get state funding the center shrunk to a handful of students. Before 1948, the public school system was only required to educate blacks through the seventh grade.

Penn School, St. Helena Island
Penn School, St. Helena Island

During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership ConferenceĀ often met at the Penn Center. The center served as a rare retreat where members of both races could meet peacefully without being threatened or harmed.

St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

Leave a Reply