Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

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The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston is the recipient of the Advocacy award for the preservation and promotion of the folk history and culture of South Carolina’s African Americans.

The Avery Center is in the former Avery Normal Institute, which was established by the American Missionary Association in 1865 for recently freed slave children. The Avery Center was established in 1985 for the preservation and promotion of Gullah language and culture. Its archives reflect this mandate with a collection of audio interviews with Gullah speakers, publications on this history of Gullah-speaking people in the Low Country, photographic collections, and traditional arts and crafts, including sweetgrass baskets and shrimp nets. Scholars consider the holdings of the Avery Center one of the premier collections of its type in the United States.

The Avery Center also provides Gullah education programming. Recent events include the Hallelujah Singers, exhibitions on African American religious traditions in the Low Country, and American and Southern cultural lineage from Africa. These and other programs showcase African American art forms that have become icons of South Carolina culture. The Center received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2000.

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