Martin Luther King, Jr., used to retreat to the Penn Center on St. Helena Island when he needed to get away from the stress of the civil rights battle and recharge.
The weekend now set aside to honor King is a great time for anybody to head to Beaufort County and the Penn Center. The facility, started by northern Quakers, was among the first schools for freed slaves in the 1860s. The 50-acre complex is listed as a National Historic Landmark District.
You can walk the peaceful grounds amid the old buildings and sprawling live oaks, or pop inside the York W. Bailey Museum to check out the exhibits that focus on the African-American experience on the Sea Islands of the region. The museum is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is scheduled to be open on MLK Day.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum debuted a new temporary exhibit this month entitled “Gullah-Geechee Life: Work and Worship.” It features the art of Amiri Farris and Judy Mooney.
The museum isn’t open on Sundays, but Frissell Hall echoes with the sounds of hopeful music on the third Sunday of each month (which includes this weekend). The Community Sing, which brings together gospel groups from local churches, will be at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.