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The Beach Company Announces Renaming of Johns Island’s Bernice Robinson Road

Former Pitchfork road name change honors local Black activist, educator

The road that runs behind The Beach Company’s new Johns Island multifamily community, Stono Oaks,  now bears a new name, Bernice Robinson Road, in honor of the Charleston native and civil rights activist. Originally called Northern Pitchfork Road, the City of Charleston renamed the road in recognition of Robinson’s community impact through her work with black literacy, voter registration and dedication to the Civil Rights Movement. The newly completed road was built by Charleston-based Gulf Stream Construction Company and is part of ongoing efforts to alleviate traffic at the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road.

Following in the footsteps of her aunt, Charleston civil rights activist Septima P. Clark, Bernice Robinson joined the local NAACP branch in 1947. After Clark introduced her to Rosa Parks and Esau Jenkins, Robinson, who had no formal training as a teacher, was picked to run an experimental education program. By 1957, Robinson was educating and empowering black Charleston residents by teaching skills ranging from basic literacy to how to pay taxes in order for them to pass the South’s voter registration requirement. The schools were integrated into a program of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, and nearly 900 schools were established in rural areas throughout the South between 1957 and 1970. 

“Bernice Robinson created a communal sense of belonging by paving the way for future generations across Charleston and beyond,” said John Darby, President and CEO at The Beach Company. “Newly named by the City in her honor, this road will serve as a reminder and source of pride for the Johns Island community and for all who travel on it.”

Photo Provided by Charleston Currents. Bernice Robinson, right, teaches during the civil rights movement. The date of the photo, part of her papers at the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston, is unknown.