In the Jim Crow South, there were few places Black artists and musicians could perform in without being harassed, threatened, robbed, or just downright refused, there were a select number of venues that in solidarity, became safe spaces for them to gig. This collective of juke joints and bars ultimately became known as the Chitlin’ Circuit, and one Clemson nightclub in particular had the honor of hosting the legendary Ray Charles on more than one occasion.
According to The Greenville News, the public works department will soon receive a marker to be installed in honor of what was once known as The Littlejohn Grill. After World War II, the grill opened and became a highly frequented entertainment spot in the area, and welcomed performers from all walks of life including Charles, James Brown, and Harry Belafonte.
The grill stayed open until the 1960’s, and it took nearly 20 years for the building to be demolished all together. In its place now stands The Littlejohn Community Center.
Adraine Garner, the director of the community center, and granddaughter of Littlejohn Grill owner, Horace Littlejohn reflects on the legacy of her family.
“You know my grandfather worked hard. It just shows that people still have respect for my grandfather, still in the 21st century.”
“It was just a lot of honor,” she mentions in response to the marker.
For Garner and other Clemson residents, a community center just made sense to replace the grill, as Littlejohn was more than committed to community care and engagement. The center, which focuses heavily on education, is becoming known as an extension of Littlejohn’s own passion for pedagogy.
The original proposal for the historical marker was issued by the City of Clemson in partnership with the Pickens County Historical Society. The city will cover the cost of the marker, and it will be erected in front of the community center where the grill once stood.