The water surrounding Sullivan’s is almost always at bath temperature, and its street names sweetly commemorate one of its most famous former residents, Edgar Allan Poe (Poe Avenue, Gold Bug Avenue, and Raven Drive, to name a few). There’s even a grub-n-pub named after him ( Poe’s Tavern , 2210 Middle Street). The island’s name can be found in books such as Pat Conroy’s The Boo and Beach Music, and the title of a Dorothea Benton Frank beach read. But here’s what one other work of literature will remind us: that 40 percent of enslaved Africans brought to British North America passed through here. The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo, an 11-year-old kidnapped from Mali in 1757 and sold into slavery. Sullivan’s Island, originally named O’Sullivan’s Island, was the main point of entry for ancestors of nearly half of the African-American population. And yet, Toni Morrison writes, “There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath or wall, or park or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road.” In 2008, the Toni Morrison Society dedicated a small bench facing the water to the memory of Africans forced into slavery.
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