Juneteenth in Charleston

Juneteenth in Charleston

June 23, 2022
Leilani M. Brown

Juneteenth in Charleston

“I could, as a free man, look across the bay toward the Eastern Shore where I was born a slave.”  Frederick Douglass

Well…I was curious. 

On Juneteenth, this vintage auction sign was circulating on social media. So, my son and I took a trip downtown to see “2 Cumberland Street” in person. 

Today, the former auction site is an empty shuttered building, is listed for sale and is across from a public parking garage.   I use this garage quite often because of its proximity to the French Quarter, a southeast section of Charleston filled with tourists, restaurants, French-inspired homes, iron work by master craftsman Phillip Simmons and street names like Prioleau.

I, and so many other people, pass this building regularly without pausing, never thinking about the people sold and families broken and lost here.

Cumberland Street runs perpendicular to East Bay, where the popular Fleet’s Landing restaurant sits.   Cruise ships launch from this section of the harbor.  

Conveniently, it is next door to the United States Customs House, a building that occupies an entire block and is an imposing structure.

The Customs House…where one would pay taxes for imports.

This is American History and Charleston’s History.  


I’m often asked why I made the choice to relocate to Charleston.  There are many reasons including being proximate  to my parents and extended family as well enjoying a different, slower, post-Covid lifestyle.


And then, of course, there is the beach. 

But, I am also drawn to Charleston as I reclaim a bit of my own personal history and connection to this place.


As I live here, I learn more, walking about the city, talking to people who have “beenyah”, studying what surrounds me to supplement my limited understanding of our collective history.

I am “taking up space” in a city that my ancestors certainly built. 

And that means that even though I was born and raised in New York City, I also claim Charleston as my mine.

#CuriousLeilani #charleston


Leilani M. Brown

Founder & CEO