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Jamila Gadsden and Carlen Gadsden-Jenkins

POrter-gaud PArent and Porter-Gaud Class of 2029

Q. – What is the significance of Black History month to you? 
A.– For our family, Black History has always been a celebration of the great contributions that our ancestors made to the build and shape this country. We acknowledge the trials & tribulations they endured and use it as a source of motivation and inspiration to continue to thrive even when the odds are stacked against you.  

Q. – What would you like to share about yourself?
A. – As an African American parent, I am mindful that representation matters. I am purposeful in my efforts to give Carlen the opportunity to be in spaces where he can interact with positive and successful men and women who look like him. Growing up in downtown Charleston where my grandparents lived, I attended school and church on Calhoun Street; just walking distance from what will soon be the International African American Museum. With our family being lifelong members of Mother Emanuel AME Church, this holds great significance in our lives. This is not because of the 2015 massacre but because of a history that dates back to the 1800s.

The legacy of having church members of prominence to include two former pastors who were also elected officials Rev. Richard Harvey Cain and Rev. Clementa Pinckney; members like Judges Daniel E. Martin, Sr. & Daniel E. Martin, Jr, Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie; locally renowned contractor, Leon Alston; LTC Lee Bennett, USA, Ret. and a host of educators, engineers, doctors and lawyers has shaped our understanding that we were surrounded by greatness and greatness is always the expectation.  

Carlen is personally connected to people of greatness such as his uncle and SC State Representative JA Moore, friends like SC Mayors Stephen Benjamin (Columbia, SC), Mayor Tracie Clemmons, (Norway, SC) and his auntie, Mayor Barbara Blaine-Bellamy (Conway, SC).  We are also grateful for his mentors here at Porter-Gaud, Coach Travis Smith and Coach JP. It is truly a blessing to be part of a community that acknowledges, appreciates and celebrates Black History. 

After the loss of our aunt Myra Thompson, one of the victims of the Emanuel 9 massacre, we realized that we had become threads of an intricately woven tapestry that continues to blanket our community. As we continue to honor African Americans both past and present, we recognize that every day we are living their legacy while creating history for generations to come.