One Day On Carver St.
United States, 2015, 4 min.
This film is family friendly.
One Day on Carver Street tells the story of Charlie's Place and its owner, Charlie Fitzgerald. Charlie's Place was a stop on the famous Chitlin' Circuit, and hosted the hottest musicians of the day. In the post-war Jim Crow south, Charlie's Place was a rare pocket of diversity in a world where the lines between black & white were firmly drawn. Charlie's Place gave birth to the state dance of South Carolina, the Shag. Charlie Fitzgerald and the music he brought to Carver Street inspired many people regardless of color to come together. This simple act of dissent angered some people who would be driven to violence to stop it.
I was born, and up until now, raised in the small southern beach town of Myrtle Beach, SC. It's a relatively new town with seemingly little culture or history. Sometime last year I came across an article in the local newspaper written by journalist Tom O'dare about a local forgotten site in our town called Charlie's Place & its neighbor, Fitzgerald's Motel, which was listed in the Green Book, the well known book printed for African-Americans listing the establishments across the country that would welcome them as guests. This was incredibly important because those places were few in the Jim Crow south. This place held more history in one square block than the rest of the entire city. The city of Myrtle Beach has bought the property and promised to look into preservation, but was set on tearing down & removing what little remained of this important and incredibly interesting place. This club & hotel was a stop on the famous Chitlin' Circuit, which many would argue gave birth to rock n' roll, and the club itself gave birth to the South Carolina state dance, The Shag. In a region that was divided by color, Charlie's Place was the only place in the city where black & white citizens could gather, socialize, dance & hear new sounds together. Because of Charlie's willingness to embrace integration, the KKK attacked the club. No one was killed in the shooting except for one man, a KKK member who wore his policeman's uniform under his white robe. I made this film to contribute to the conservation efforts of this important historical site, hoping the film would draw attention to it. It's my opinion that doing so would bring culture & healing to a town that needs it. It would be a good first step in righting old wrongs and acknowledging a dark part of our history so that we can have a brighter future. I end my film with a quote from preservationist, John Sawhill. "A society is defined not only by what it creates, but also by what it refuses to destroy." I believe that in saving or destroying what remains of Fitzgerald's Motel we choose how history will define us.
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