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South Carolina - Charleston: Azikiwe T. Chandler Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Azikiwe T. Chandler in Charleston, South Carolina. He talks about life in Charleston and growing up learning the history of the city. He complains that the African American community in Charleston still largely works as servers in the service based economy. Chandler lived in New York until the age of ten, where his father was involved in the Black Power Movement and he attended progressive schools. He and his younger brother Cheo were involved in the movement from a young age. They attended White schools in Pepper Hill when they moved to South Carolina, and they both experienced problems. They then moved to the Charleston peninsula, where they attended an all Black school, and their problems subsided. He talks about being culturally ostracized in Charleston when the brothers began growing dreads like their father. He wore a hat through grade school and middle school, but made an agreement with his father to stop wearing it in high school. He began facing less scrutiny, even when he moved to an integrated school for his last year of middle school. He wore his dreads with no hat for the first time on the first day at Burke High School. The community was already familiar with his father's dreads since he ran a reggae radio show and soccer club. His father recruited African American boys from the projects, showing them videos of Pelé. They are still the only African American soccer club in the city. He was nervous until someone recognized him and told him that he listened to Chandler and his father on the radio. He transferred to North Charleston High School halfway through his junior year, but only stayed for half a year before he went back to Burke, although he was accepted there too. He has decided to build an alternative Afrocentric school after his experience at Burke where students were split into different educational tracks. He wants to encourage more students to attend college, rather than grouping people into the vocational track. Chandler had been part of the gifted program in middle school, which put him on the college preparatory track in high school. He explains the advanced placement track testing program. He laments the lack of Afrocentric courses available at all-Black Burke High School. The teachers who gave him the most active encouragement were White. He thinks the Black teachers he encountered were fatigued with the system. He talks about the disciplinary system at Burke being biased in favor of the AP students. He was encouraged by his AP English teacher to attend the University of Notre Dame and he talks about his decision to attend. He is currently in his third year. If he had it to do over, he says he would go somewhere else. He feels socially repressed there. Dent talks about having made the decision to always live in places where other Black people live.
Interview takes place in a restaurant with background noise.
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 147, Item 16, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.