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Brookgreen Gardens’ Sandy Island School Added to African American Civil Rights Network

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The Sandy Island School, owned by Brookgreen Gardens, has just been added to the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network. This historic property played a major role in the education, health care, and voting rights for the African American community founded and settled by freed slaves during the Reconstruction era.

In the 1930s Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington purchased Brookgreen Gardens, along with 1,500 acres of Sandy Island. The Huntingtons financed the construction of Sandy Island School, the salaries of its teachers, and the living quarters for faculty in a time where proper, affordable education was not possible for community members.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Sandy Island School hosted the Brookgreen Welfare Conference, a statewide conference that brought together volunteer health practitioners who provided care for African Americans across the state. In the late 1950s, Sandy Island School served as a host site for the Georgetown County Adult Negro School Program, a citizenship school that educated adults who were past school age when the Sandy Island School was built, so that they could pass the literacy test to vote. Between 1958 and 1962, through these efforts combined with those of the NAACP and the Progressive Democratic Party, the total number of registered voters in Georgetown County increased from 5,608 to 10,366 (85%) and rekindled political power, hard-won during Reconstruction.

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