Hilton Head, SC Plantation to investigate community name

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Hilton Head Island’s largest gated community is polling its nearly 10,000 residents to gauge the merits of removing the word “plantation” from its name, according to a Friday email from the homeowners association.

The resident survey comes after months of Black Lives Matter protests across the country – and calls from Hilton Head islanders and native activists – for three Hilton Head communities who use the word “plantation” on their signage to drop the word. Campaigners cite the dozens of Hilton Head plantations that enslaved people before the Civil War as a reason to drop the word, which is often used as a marketing tool.

In an email to residents, the POA did not mention the word “plantation” or detail the reasons for such an investigation. It will be open until the end of September and the results will be shared with the owners while the community board decides on next steps, the email said.

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Sign onto US 278 at the main entrance to the Hilton Head Plantation. Staff archive photo

Hilton Head Plantation is the latest of the three communities to address the use of the word. Earlier this summer, Wexford removed the word from its sign on US 278, and although Palmetto Hall voters have not reached the threshold to legally change the name, the homeowners association has announced that it would remove the name from the sign and marketing materials.

Port Royal Plantation still uses the word in its legal name, but it is not on its official sign. But nearby, a green sign directs US 278 drivers to “Port Royal Plantation”.

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Pictured is the entrance to Wexford on US 278, seen Tuesday July 7, 2020 on Hilton Head Island. On Monday July 6, 2020, the word “Plantation” painted in gold letters was covered in green paint after the community decided to remove the word from its name. The community will now be known as Wexford. Drawn Martin [email protected]

At Hilton Head Plantation, a group of community members, HHP Community 4 Change, formed to advocate for a name change. The group pushed for a vote ahead of the regular 2021 resident survey to speed up the name change process.

General Manager Peter Kristian initially told The Island Packet that changing the community’s name could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He pointed to the neighborhood’s well-known brand that would change if a third of the name was deleted.

“For someone to wave their hand and say ‘change your name’ is not something that is taken lightly,” Kristian said in June. “(Plantation) was to denote a quiet way of life and to recognize the history of the land.”

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Slaves belonging to Confederate General Thomas F. Drayton at his plantation on Hilton Head Island. Drayton owned Fish Haul Plantation, located near present-day Port Royal Plantation and the town of Hilton Head Island Fish Haul Beach Park. Library of Congress Archives

National media outlets, including The Washington Post and NPR, covered the Hilton Head plantations. Kristian did not respond to NPR’s requests for comment.

The Hilton Head plantations and the systemic loss of historic Gullah lands on the island are featured in a new book, “Wandering in Strange Lands” by Morgan Jerkins. An excerpt from the book was published by The New York Times.

“It was at Hilton Head that I quickly learned how beautiful landscapes masked a black carnage that was simplified and mocked at every turn. I saw the word plantation so much that I was starting to have a headache, ”she wrote. “With every road I took, there was another indication of a perverse symmetry between leisure and slavery.”

This story was originally published August 17, 2020 10:34 am.

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Katherine Kokal graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Island Packet newsroom in 2018. Prior to moving to the Lowcountry, she worked as an interviewer and translator for a non-profit organization. lucrative in Barcelona and at two NPR member stations. At The Island Packet, Katherine covers government, environment, development, beaches and the all-important Loggerhead Turtle on Hilton Head Island. She has won awards from the South Carolina Press Association for her in-depth reporting, government reporting, business reporting, growth and development reporting, food writing, and for her use of social media.


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