Charleston, South Carolina

City of Charleston Honors The Legacy of Prominent Black Business Owners With Intersection Name Change

Two prominent Black Charleston entrepreneurs are getting their flowers in a major way.

Albert and Benjamin Brooks are having a downtown Charleston, South Carolina, intersection named after them, ABC News 4 reports. City officials and Brooks’ family descendants recently gathered at the corner of Morris and Felix streets to dedicate signs at the intersection in their honor.

The new street sign reads, “Brooks Way, Honoring A Legacy.”

For over 60 years, the Brooks brothers owned and operated several businesses on Morris Street, including the Brooks Motel, Brooks Restaurant, and Brooks Realty office. Because of their success, the businesses created a safe gathering space for members of the Black community in downtown Charleston. Iconic civil rights leaders like Coretta Scott King, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Sr., and others were frequent visitors.

Brooks family representative Kenneth Reid was present at the unveiling and commended the brothers for their work and for creating a bold legacy. “This event, no matter how small it was, it told us and reinforced the fact that these two men really served the community, and the community remembered,” Reid said to WCBD.

Brooks Motel was the go-to place for Black churchgoers looking for an after-church meal to continue fellowshipping with community members. Jean Brooks Murphy, daughter of Benjamin Brooks, remembers working at the motel while in high school and college. She said her father and uncle also helped other Black entrepreneurs launch businesses in the city.

Murphy partnered with the daughter of fellow Charleston-based business owner Henry Smith and the Preservation Society of Charleston to keep her family’s legacy alive to create the Black Business of Charleston Oral History Project in 2022. Both women were featured in a video that debuted at a local high school, sharing the struggles of their successful parents with the hopes of bringing on a deeper appreciation for Black businesses.