Wednesday night, Mayor Joe Riley was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. News 2 caught up with him to find out what this honor means to the city’s longest serving mayor.
Riley says, “I didn’t realize that being mayor of the city of Charleston, when I first began, was also an opportunity to serve all the people of South Carolina through what we achieve in Charleston as examples of what can be done, as well as helping to create institutions that help the people of South Carolina. So I’m proud to be recognized for service to the state of South Carolina.”
Being inducted into the Hall of Fame in addition to Mayor Riley is 19th century slave David Drake, also known as Dave the Potter.
Grahame Long, Chief Curator of The Charleston Museum, says, “We know about Dave through his work, there’s not really much we can say at this point of his life outside of pottery.”
The largest collection of Dave’s work is at The Charleston Museum. Much can be learned about him and the time period from the pottery.
Long says, “Dave is very cognizant, very recognizing of the fact that he was an enslaved person. On one of his pots in particular that we have here at the museum, he actually writes ‘Dave belongs to Mr. Miles’, referring to Lewis Miles. A very interesting partnership, a rather terrifying one going on there.”
The poems and prose written on the art shows a bold statement by Dave the Potter.
Long says, “This comes at a time where it is not necessarily legal to teach an enslaved African-American to read and write. So, the fact that Dave is doing this in the presence of white overseer,s and white masters, and white owners is fairly remarkable.”
He says there is no doubt Dave Drake deserves a spot in the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
Long says, “He was a significant character, individual, craftsman, artisan in South Carolina heritage that needs to be preserved, and recognized, and celebrated.”
And Mayor Joe Riley says he is proud to share the ceremony with him.
Riley says, “Finally his worth and his artistry is being recognized, and it’s wonderful to be on the same program with him.”