Federal grant money helping Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park grow

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 12:17 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Millions of dollars are going to one of the most historic parts of the Lowcountry, and the money will be used to make some big changes.

The Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park will look a lot different a few years from now, in part thanks to a $2.5 million grant they just received from an organization that supports arts and humanities projects.

“Let’s just say there was a lot of celebrating in the office when we got the email,” Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park Executive Director Ahmad Ward said.

The park tells the story of our country’s first town that was entirely self-governed by formerly enslaved people. Its executive director calls this grant an investment in their history.

“It proves that the value of this story goes well beyond the borders of South Carolina that a world-renowned funder such as the Mellon Foundation saw fit to support us,” Ward said.

The plan for the site’s growth includes a new freedom plaza, with specific ties to the story of this place and its people at the forefront.

“We are endeavoring to get a boulder from Sierra Leon to put in that plaza so people here can touch the place where the folks who were brought here came from,” Ward said.

He calls the $2.5 million tremendous and hopes it will encourage more support as they set sights on a higher number to build a 4,000 square foot classroom and archeological lab on the same street as the park.

“Our goal is $23 million to do everything and given the incredible year and a half that we’ve had we are a third of the way there,” Ward said.

Ward says their goal is to complete this project in the next three to four years, but before they can do that, they’ll be celebrating Juneteenth next week. WTOC have more on those events as they get closer.