African-American Heritage Commission creates award to honor Hartsville native
A new award was presented in the 2021 program – the Jannie Harriot Founders Award – to recognize an individual who has given significant contributions to the growth and sustainability of the S.C. African-American Heritage Commission. The inaugural award was given to Jannie Harriot, chairperson of the SCAAHC and former executive director of the WeGOJA Foundation. Harriot began her commitment to African-American historic preservation when she saved Butler High School in Hartsville. She was part of the group of historians and activists who founded the S.C. African-American Heritage Council in 1993 (now the SCAAHC) and, later, the South Carolina African-American Heritage Foundation (now WeGOJA Foundation). Under her leadership, both organizations became models for preservation programs in other states. The awards ceremony also featured greetings by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and Eric Emerson, South Carolina’s state archivist and director of the Department of Archives and History. There was also a performance by Christal Brown and the Gullah Geechee Choir. Local comedian Akintunde served as master of ceremonies. Established through a joint resolution by the General Assembly on May 14, 1993, the South Carolina African-American Heritage Commission is devoted to preserving and promoting the history and culture of African-Americans in the Palmetto State. Since its inception, the commission has enhanced the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History to document and educate the public about the black experience in South Carolina through cultural programs, curriculum development, teacher training workshops, the publication of books and online resources, and the preservation of historic spaces.