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This past Friday evening, hundreds of people of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic standing came together to honor the memory of one man…Dr. Martin Luther King. Falls Park in Downtown Greenville was awash with goodwill and unity as participants celebrated Dr. King’s legacy as part of the “MLK Dream Weekend”.  Made up of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause, this grassroots organization encourages others to “live his dream”. This Thursday, January 17, the Hyatt Regency will host the 8th Annual MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration, with keynote speaker, Nikki Giovanni.  Ms. Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, has brought attention to the Civil Rights of others for more than three decades through her outspokenness in writing and lectures. The event begins at 7PM and although tables are currently sold out, there are some individual tickets available at $60 each. For more information and ticket availability, please call 864-990-1060.

Upstate residents are also encouraged to spread Dr. King’s message through a “MLK Day of Community Service”. In conjunction with Hands on Greenville, organizers have coordinated a variety of volunteer opportunities – from beautifying lower-income neighborhoods to delivering Meals on Wheels for the elderly and homebound. The majority of these volunteer events will take place Saturday, January 19, from 9AM until noon. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together.  For more information,  www.handsongreenville.org.

The celebration will conclude Monday, January 21 with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will begin at 8AM with a light breakfast which will be followed by the production of “One Voice” with JDew. An exceptional narrative highlighting orations from some of America’s most influential black leaders, “One Voice” is a fascinating journey through the black American experience, by virtue of eight powerful and influential voices spanning from the 1820s to present day including: Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, and Barack Obama. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

The Peace Center will also be paying homage to Dr. King and his dream with their production of “I Have a Dream”.  Part of the center’s nationally recognized arts initiative, Peace Outreach Programs (for students grades 3-12), this compelling dramatization of the life and times of one of the most influential and charismatic leaders of the Civil Rights movement is certain to inspire young minds as they experience this great leader’s struggle and his dream of lifting “our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”. Tickets are $9 with 10AM and noon show times on both January 23 and 24. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org.

A must-see for locals and visitors alike is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A trip Downtown on MLK Day would not be complete without a visit to the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

To learn more about Greenville’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the rich history of her African-American community, here are more places you may want to visit:

Site of The Working Benevolent Temple: Located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, this unassuming building was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

John Wesley United Methodist Church: Located next to the site of the Working Benevolent Temple, on Falls Street.  Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places

Richland Cemetery: Located on Stone Avenue, near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  This quiet, peaceful site is a reflective conclusion to your historical tour.

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If you are one of many who saw this year’s blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games, you would know that the rich traditional music of the Appalachians featured throughout the soundtrack was almost as central to the plot as the characters themselves. One song in particular, Daughter’s Lament, truly embodied the haunting depths of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. This weekend, the trio who wrote and performed that poignant melody, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, will grace the stage of The Handlebar in Downtown Greenville.

Bursting on the music scene with their Grammy-Award winning Genuine Negro Jig in 2010, the Carolina Chocolate Drops have brought back the old-style fiddle and banjo based music that has long been a part of the Piedmont region.  Striving to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, this trio also strives to highlight the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. After researching styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—including string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz – they shape it into a melody that can best be described as a “living, breathing, ever-evolving” work of musical art.

 

Mastering an eclectic assortment of instruments, including 5-string, minstrel & plectrum banjo, quills (a small African-American panpipe), snare drum, bones and the unlikely addition of the cello and the kazoo and coming from different worlds, the group has somehow managed to draw on their differences to create a sound that melds together perfectly. North Carolina native, Rhiannon Giddens, the daughter of a classically-trained singer, was also herself a classically trained opera singer. Long fascinated by folk and bluegrass, this talented songbird taught herself how to play the fiddle before joining a Celtic band.  Upon reading about legendary fiddler, Joe Thompson, Rhiannon joined him after a performance for an impromptu jam session and her interest was sparked. Partnering with Dom Flemons, a banjo player and poet from Arizona and guitarist Hubby Jenkins from NYC, the Carolina Chocolate Drops were born.

This Friday, July 13th The Handlebar will play host to this talented trio of artists. Tickets are $16 ($2 more for those under 21) and are available at the venue for their 9PM performance. Come see why critics are raving over this iconic band and experience the sublime sounds that got them invited to Carnegie Hall to perform with the likes of Taj Mahal, Art Garfunkel and Jackson Browne…you’ll be glad you did!

For more information on “The Drops”, visit the official webpage at http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com

For more information on this show and others at The Handlebar, visitwww.handlebar-online.com



For the people who work, live and play Downtown, the statues of famous Greenvillians are just part of the landscape. We walk by them, sit next to them to rest our feet or to pose for a picture, use them as a meeting place to hook up with friends, even dress them up for holidays! But who ARE these people apparently so important to Downtown Greenville that we saw fit to immortalize them in bronze? This weekend, noted historian and founder of Historic Greenville Tours, John Nolan, will enlighten us on this subject in a series of tours scheduled to take place Saturday morning (June 16th) and Sunday evening (June 17th).  Can’t wait until this weekend to learn more (or perhaps, you’d like to impress Mr. Nolan with your vast knowledge of notable Greenvillians)? Well, here’s a little insight into just WHO these folks are and why they are so significant to our little part of the world.

Across the street from the Hyatt Regency (and the starting point of this weekend’s tour), is an impressive statue depicting former Greenville Mayor, Max Heller. Now, Greenville has had many mayors, but none quite like Max Heller. The epitome of the “American Dream”, Max was an Austrian Jew who fled to Greenville as a teenager to escape the Nazi regime. Arriving with less than $2 to his name, Max quickly found work at the Piedmont Shirt Factory (now the site of Devereaux’s) with the help of a local Greenville girl, Mary Mills, in answer to his plea for assistance.  Seven years later, the young man found himself the Vice President of the company, but soon felt the urge to strike out on his own. In 1948, he started his own shirt company with 16 employees and by the time he sold it 14 years later, his workforce had swelled to 700. With a vow to serve the public, Max ran for and was elected Mayor of Greenville in 1971. To say Greenville would not be what it is today without this event would be an understatement. Max quickly sprang into action – desegregating all city government departments and commissions, so that everyone would have an equal chance for success, strengthening our local economy by convincing corporations such as the Hyatt to build here and setting out to beautify our city so that instead of having out-of-towners drive quickly through Downtown (usually with windows up and doors locked), visitors would want to stop and spend time here. Sculpted by artist Thomas J. Durham, the statue is surrounded by concrete panels depicting aspects of this great man’s life and legacy.  I believe it is safe to say that Downtown Greenville would not be the award-winning, tourism nirvana and fine example of the “New South” that it is today without the faith and vision of Max Heller.

South from Max Heller Legacy Plaza, at the corner of Main and Washington Streets, stands a statue of two young people representing  a group of students whose actions were every bit as crucial in shaping Greenville as Mayor Heller’s. The young man and woman depicted in the statue have no actual names, they are representative of the courage and strength of the young students of Sterling High School. In the 1960’s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, young men and women from this prestigious African-American high school staged peaceful rallies, demonstrations and  “sit-ins” at the Woolworth lunch counter, which was located at this site. Braving taunts, abuse and certain arrest, these resolute students, which included the Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, changed the societal landscape of Greenville County and helped end unfair segregation in the Upstate.  With funds raised by The Friends of Sterling, artist Mariah Kirby-Smith sculpted the two students walking proudly down the steps of Sterling High, schoolbooks in hand and hopeful expressions on their faces. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

Further south down Main, on Court Street, is a depiction of another statesman important to our area, Joel R. Poinsett. Although officially a resident of Charleston, like many Lowcountry natives, he also had a “summer home” here in the Upstate.  Sculpted by artist Zan Wells and situated near the hotel that bears his name, Mr. Poinsett is shown pausing to read a book, his hat and coat carefully placed beside him. Many of the visitors who stop and pose for a picture with the distinguished gentleman, are unaware that not only is he responsible for bringing the standard of Christmas that bears his name, the Poinsettia plant,  to America, but that he was also the Minister to Mexico, the first consul-general of the US to Buenos Aries, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Van Buren,  a respected member of Congress and a member of the South Carolina State Legislature (where he was president of the board of public works). In his spare time (he actually HAD spare time believe it or not), he studied medicine and law, was extremely well traveled and had interests in natural history, botany, science, and politics. No wonder so many of our Upstate landmarks bear his name!

Across from Mr. Poinsett (and in fine company) is the statue of Vardry McBee. Commonly referred to as the “Father of Greenville”, Mr. McBee (pronounced “MACK-bee”, as any “old-family” Greenvillian will quickly inform you) was instrumental in accelerating industrial growth in our area.  After purchasing the land that would become the city of Greenville in 1815, he saw the value of a diversified economy and constructed over 100 buildings in Greenville County as well as built several mills (including a textile mill) along the Reedy River A humble man, McBee used his considerable fortune to improve the lives of his fellow citizens, appropriating his land and fortunes to public projects, He was a great believer in freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and that education should be available to all, and gave lands and money for the establishment of male and female colleges,  Greenville’s first churches (all of different denominations) and open areas available for public assembly upon which no buildings could be built (the Poinsett Hotel’s L-Shape is the result of being built around one of these city squares). He championed the construction of the railroad line that connected Columbia and Greenville, which become a turning point in the economy of the town. Sculpted by artist T. J. Dixon, McBee is shown in thoughtful repose, surveying the city he helped create.

Positioned near the Greenville News building, at the corner of Main and Broad Streets, is a formidable statue depicting Revolutionary War General, Nathaniel Greene. Although not actually from the Upstate, Gen. Greene played a significant role in the fight for American Independence in our state and is believed to be the inspiration for our city’s name (although the spelling has been changed). As one of the most trusted of Washington’s generals and the leader of the American troops in the South, Greene’s military genius was pivotal to Patriot victories in the Carolinas, thus turning the tide of the War in favor of the Americans. In this work created by the husband and wife team of James Nelson and T.J. Dixon, Greene is shown in an imposing stance, spyglass in hand, looking north toward victory at Yorktown.

Past the Main Street Bridge, located across from the Falls Park entrance at the corner of Main and Camperdown, sits the statue depicting one of Greenville’s most brilliant native sons, Charles Townes. The Nobel Prize winner for his studies that became the laser, Townes was recently listed as one of a thousand most important people of the last thousand years in the book, 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: The Men and Women Who Charted the Course of History for the Last Millennium.  Born in 1915 near what is now St. Francis Hospital, this future scientist showed an interest in the natural world and technology at an early age.  A precociously bright and innovative boy, he enrolled at Furman University as a sixteen-year-old freshman and later graduated summa cum laude with majors in physics and foreign languages in 1935. After earning a master’s degree at Duke University and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, he began work at Bell Labs, designing radar systems for American bombers in WWII. After the war, he joined the physics department at Columbia University. It was here, sitting on a park bench in 1951 that he had an epiphany which lead to the creation of laser technology. It is this moment that is captured in this sculpture by artist Zan Wells.  Clutching the envelope on which he scribbled the formula for his theory, Townes is shown with the light of scientific revelation reflected on his face.  In tribute to Dr. Townes’ invention, the statue actually contains a small laser. Surrounding this piece in what is known as “Townes Plaza” are four other benches from Franklin Park in Washington, DC, where Townes is reputed to have had his earth-shaking “a-ha moment”.  Visitors are invited to sit with Dr. Townes and have a revelation of their own.

South on Main Street, toward the part of Greenville known as the West End, is the final and perhaps most poignant statue on the tour, the sculpture of Joseph Jefferson Jackson, otherwise known as “Shoeless Joe”.  The story of Joe Jackson’s life and career are worthy of a Shakespearean play. Son of a poor Greenville sharecropper, Joe quickly went to work in a textile mill as soon as he was old enough to reach the machinery. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, he was moved to left field after one of his pitches actually broke an opponent’s arm. He would play this position for the rest of his baseball career. But it was at bat that Joe’s amazing natural talent shown through. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set record after record – many of which still stand today. This is how artist Doug Young chose to portray this baseball legend – forever frozen in time, swinging for the stands, his eyes alight with the knowledge that he just hit another home run.  It was this incredible ability that soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915.  Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports icon, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. But Joe’s success was short-lived. In a tragic turn of events, Joe found himself accused with seven of his teammates of  “throwing” the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record), a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After living in several southern towns and cities and playing semi-pro baseball under assumed names, Joe and his wife, Kate returned to Greenville to live out the rest of his years.  Always a beloved local hero to the people of Greenville,  Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still holds franchise records for the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. In 1999, he was #35 on The Sporting News  list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens, professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Want to learn more? Then join Mr. Nolan and others for a guided tour down Main Street to discover what these wonderful statues and the remarkable people they depict reveal about our city’s past and present. Sponsored by Historic Greenville Tours and the Upcountry History Museum, the tours begin in the Dogwood Suite at the Hyatt Regency and end at Shoeless Joe Plaza (intersection of Main and Augusta). Two tours will take place – Saturday morning, June 16th, from 8:30AM until 10:30 AM and again Sunday evening, June 17th, from 6:30PM until 8:30PM. Tickets for the tours cost $20 for UHM members and $30 for all others and are available at The Upcountry History Museum. Space is very limited. If you are not able to fit either of these tours into your summer schedule, no worries…similar tours are planned to take place in September and December. For more information, visit www. Upcountryhistory.org

So there you have it…a diversity of sculptural works depicting a diversity of people, all of whom had a significant part in shaping our fair city. And the list is ever-growing…plans are in the works to create more statues because Greenville natives just KEEP ON doing remarkable things! Who will be next? I personally would like to see a sculptural tribute to Academy Award winning actress (and Greenville native) Joanne Woodward, to acknowledge Greenville’s thriving arts and theatre community…but that’s just my opinion.



South Carolina has long been a melting pot for a variety of nationalities. Just take a stroll down Main Street and you are as likely to hear “Hola”, Bonjour” or “Gutentag” as you are “Hey Y’all”! When the temperatures rise in the Upstate, so do the number of festivals. May is no exception, giving you the opportunity to experience the cultures of West Africa, Greece and the Highlands of Scotland…all without leaving Greenville!

If “the Beat” means drumbeats, word beats or art and dance that will make your heart beat faster, the Emry’s Foundation has got the event for you. Members and non-members alike are invited  to The Kroc Center on Thursday, May 17th to enjoy a spectacular evening of West African cultre and Elements of Rhythm, Art and Verse. This collaborative event strives to demonstrate the many ways in which the written and spoken word unite all genres of art, and features inspiring artwork by April Harrison, impressive rhymes by Unifyed Sol poet, Robert Mullins, Jr (aka Moody Black), passionate African dance by Alisa Caldwell and her Elements of Rhythm dance company and heart-thumping drumbeats provided by the Spirit Beat Drummers. Festivities, which include a buffet style dinner, begin at 7PM and participants are encouraged to dress casually so that they may take part in the fun. Tickets are $25 for students and Kroc members, $35 for non-members and Emrys members are free. For more information on this event and other programs and events sponsored by the Emrys Foundation, visit: www.emrys.org.

The Greeks have known how to throw a party for thousands of years and Greenville’s Grecian community proudly carries on that tradition with their annual Greek Festival. For four fun-filled days (May 17 – 20), Greenville becomes “Greekville” as St. George Greek Orthodox Church becomes a sea of all things Greek. Beginning on Thursday, May 17th, you will be able to satisfy your cravings for souvlaki, gyros and all kinds of yummy Greek pastries as lunch and dinner will be served at the Hellenic Center. Don’t have time to sit down to eat? They have drive-thru service at the Elford Street entrance, so you can get a taste of Greece in minutes. The “glendi” (that’s Greek for party) really starts up on Friday, with an assortment of food, traditional Greek dance and live music. All that dancing will leave you exhausted, so be sure to stop by the Kafenion (Greek Coffee Shop) to recharge your batteries with a steaming cup of Greek coffee and a wedge of delicious baklava, before strolling through the Marketplace to view an assortment of Mediterranean wares.  The festivities continue full swing through the weekend until Sunday evening. Hours are 10:30AM to 8PM (Dining only) Thursday, 10:30AM to 10PM Friday and Saturday,  and 11:30AM to 8PM Sunday. Cost of admission is only $1. For more information, visit: www.stgeorgegreenville.org/GreekFestival.

Not many people have had the chance to see a Scottish Claymore up close…with the exception of some Romans, Vikings, English and anyone else unwise enough to venture into The Highlands uninvited. Visitors to this year’s Greenville Scottish Games will not only be treated to big guys in kilts tossing telephone poles (those are called cabers, BTW) but to demonstrations in sword fighting featuring the fearsome broadsword.  On Saturday, May 26th, the campus at Furman will play host to world-class athletes in 2012 Masters World Championships. On Sunday, amateurs will take the field to flex their muscles and compete in heavy athletics. Competition begins at 8AM both days. Feeling the urge to compete yourself? Then take part in the axe-throwing competiton, which is open to everyone. Afterwards, visit the food tents to taste that Scottish delicacy, haggis (trust me, you really DON’T want to know what’s in it).

Are you more of a lover than a fighter? Take the kids to run amuck in Wee Scotland. Then venture over to the Highland Dancers stage, the British Car Show, to the vendors tents, the Border Collie herding competition or over to the Entertainment tent for some righteous Celtic rock.  If you are lucky, you’ll happen upon a lone piper, preparing for the Piping competition. Speaking of rock, the festivities start Thursday, May 24th as the Scots, in true Highland fashion, invade Downtown Alive, to rock out to the music of the Celtic band, Cleghorn and again on  Friday, May 25th, at Main Street Friday to party to the tunes of Coyote Run and Albannach. At 6PM on Friday, Downtown will be awash in plaid as kilted revelers stroll down Main Street in the Great Scot Parade. The Parade, which grows larger each year,  will feature pipe bands, Scottish military re-enactors, Highland themed floats, Scottish forest fairies and more tartans than you can shake a bagpipe at – all to get the weekend started Highland style! Saturday’s events will wind down with a rockin’ ceildh (that’s Gaelic for party) of a Celtic Jam. For an events schedule, to order tickets and for more information on the Scottish Games, visit: http://gallabrae.com.

As you see, Downtown Greenville offers many opportunities to experience a different culture…no passport required! So dance to African drumbeats, stuff yourself with baklava or release your inner Braveheart! You’ll be all the richer for the experience!



“Music legend” is a label that sometimes gets handed out too often. But in the case of Upstate native, Mac Arnold, the title is certainly more than well deserved. From his early days of playing a homemade guitar to his work with his current band, Plate Full O’ Blues, Mac has been a virtual shaman in this most southern of music genre. Fans and followers will have the chance this weekend to pay homage and see him in action at The Handlebar.

Those who knew Mac as a youngster must have had some inkling that this man’s music resume would read like a “Who’s Who” of blues, rock and R&B legends. Learning to play guitar on an instrument his brother made from a gas can, Mac went on in high school to form his own band, which included none other than the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. After a stint with The Charles Miller Band, Mac left the southland in 1965 forChicagoto work with celebrated sax man, A.C. Reed. A year later, at the age of 24, Mac was playing bass for the legendary Muddy Waters and sharing the stage with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed. Backstage, Mac was often found jamming with the rock stars of the day – including Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop (It was rumored that guitar god, Jimi Hendrix was inspired by Muddy’s band).

After more than a year with Muddy, Mac ventured out on his own to form The Soul Invaders, playing back-up for such acts as The Temptations and B.B. King. Following a trip to South California (and falling in love with the mild weather), Mac moved to L.A. where he worked with TV innovators such as Don Cornelius of “Soul Train” and comedian Redd Foxx (that familiar bass line on the “Sanford & Son” theme was performed by Mac), as well as R&B artists such as Bill Withers.  But the call of his home town was too strong and Mac returned toSouth Carolinato retire on his farm in the 1980’s.

It was a chance encounter with a singing mechanic that brought Mac back to the blues. Max Hightower has had a longtime love for anything relating to the blues. After wearing out a second hand copy of “Muddy’s Mississippi Live”, he decided to pursue a career in music. Following a few years of bouncing from band to band and stage to stage, Max was working at a trucking company when in walked one of his blues heroes. After many a deep conversations with the fellow musician, Mac decided it was time he came out of retirement. With the addition of Austin Brashier on guitar, Dan Keylon on bass, Mike Whitt on drums and, of course, Max on keyboard and harmonica, Plate Full O’ Blues was born.

Mac came back to blues like a man starving for a good meal. With several albums and music DVD’s to date, tours that have spanned the USand Europeand praise from music critics from all walks, Mac and Plate Full O’ Blues have certainly proven that they’re here to stay! This Saturday, the 28th they’re back at one of their favorite venues, The Handlebar, for their 6th Annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Festival. The band takes the stage starting at 8PM until Mac decides it’s time for y’all to head on home! Tickets are on sale now at The Handlebar for $14 ($2 extra for those under 21). If you buy a $20 ticket, you get some down-homeCarolina cookin’ to enjoy before the show! So, head on out to The Handlebar this weekend for some smokin’ hot blues from a man who will certainly be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one day! See you there!



It’s been over 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King shared his Dream with the Nation. This weekend, Greenville will honor Dr. King with “MLK Dream Weekend”. This organization of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause encourages others to “live his dream”. Tonight, TD Convention Center will play host to the MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration with guest speaker, Roland Martin.  This dinner event will begin at 6:15PM and will include pre-dinner entertainment provided by Whitney Walters and Groove Planet. An after-party will follow with host Vicky James of 107.3 JAMZ. This Saturday from 10AM until noon, Upstate residents are encouraged to participate in a Day of Community Service in conjunction with Hands on Greenville. Volunteers will work at various project sites throughout Greenville County. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together. The celebration will conclude Monday with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will include workshops,  entertainment, community service projects and lunch for the participants. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

If you can’t make the Dream Weekend festivities, you can still pay homage Dr. King and his Dream. An excellent place to start is at the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

If you continue south down Main Street and turn east onto Broad, you will find two more places that played an important part in the history of Greenville’s African American community. The first, located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

Next to this prestigious site (on Falls Street) is the John Wesley United Methodist Church. Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A must-see for anyone living in or visiting Downtown Greenville is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A reflective conclusion to your historical tour can be found at Richland Cemetery, located on Stone Avenue near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  A tour through this quiet, peaceful place will show you how far Greenville has come…and how far we have yet to go to attain Dr. King’s Dream.



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