Mitch Mitchell

Meet Robert Smalls on opening day of National Library Week—and “check out” a dozen community members eager to share their stories as Human Books.

The Beaufort Human Library project seeks to foster empathy and understanding across communities through dialogues with a dozen Human Books who will be sharing their personal stories of facing challenges and striving for acceptance. These engaging conversations will cover topics including occupations, education, healthcare, gender, race, faith, immigration, addiction, abuse, and law enforcement, among others. Ultimately the dialogues will focus on building bridges of understanding, person to person, through storytelling.

The third edition of the Beaufort Human Library will be held on Sunday, April 23, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in

Dana Ridenour

MacLean Hall, building 12 of the Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL), at 104 Reynolds Street in Beaufort. Free and open to the public, the event is hosted by TCL; the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center; the DAYLO (Diversity Awareness Youth Literacy Organization) students of Beaufort Academy, Beaufort High School, and Battery Creek High School; and volunteer community organizers. The program is funded in part with a grant from South Carolina Humanities, a nonprofit organization inspiring, engaging, and enriching South Carolinians with programs on literature, history, culture, and heritage.

Participating Human Books include Major General Harold L. “Mitch” Mitchell (ret.), Rev. Lori Hlaban, Rev.Rebecca Albright, Lola Campbell, Aki Kato, Gwenn McClune, Rodney Adams, Dana Ridenour, Ryan Copeland, Isabella Troy Brazoban, Eric Hayes, Joseph Taylor, and others.

Joe Taylor

Beginning the event in the TCL auditorium from 1:00 to 1:30, historical re-enactor and educator Donald Sweeper will appear as celebrated Beaufortonian Robert Smalls with a brief performance followed by in-character audience Q&A. Born into slavery and later becoming the first Black hero of the Civil War and later a U.S. Congressman, Smalls is synonymous with Beaufort and Reconstruction. Sweeper has been performing the role for nearly a decade; his appearance at the Beaufort Human Library is made possible by the South Carolina Humanities Speakers Bureau. Please plan to arrive early as this presentation will begin promptly at 1:00.

Following the Robert Smalls presentation in the auditorium, all of the volunteer Human Books will be available throughout MacLean Hall to be checked out for 30-minute small group conversations from 1:30 to 4:00. New conversations begin every half-hour. No advance registration is needed. Volunteer Librarians and student Bookmarks will be on hand to help guests navigate their experience.

Learn more about the Beaufort Human Library at or