More than fifty people from the Edgefield area traveled to Charleston on April 27th for a great occasion: the induction of David Drake, widely known as “Dave the Potter,” into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. An extraordinary ceramic artisan that lived in Edgefield during the 19th century, Dave is the organization’s 93rd inductee.
Dr. Leo Twiggs, Chairman of the Hall of Fame, presented a plaque to Edgefieldian Leonard Todd, Dave’s biographer, who gave a moving tribute to the potter. Todd told how Dave, in spite of the strictures of slavery, managed to create true American treasures–large ceramic vessels inscribed with original poems and his own distinctive signature.
Since 1973, the South Carolina Hall of Fame has recognized the Palmetto State’s most distinguished sons and daughters, who have made valuable contributions to American life, culture, and history. After a rigorous selection process, one deceased and one living candidate is added to the list each year.
Joseph Riley, longtime mayor of Charleston, was inducted during the ceremony as this year’s living candidate. He earlier spoke with WCBD TV News 2 about Dave: “Finally, his worth and his artistry is being recognized, and it’s wonderful to be on the same program with him.”
After Dave’s induction, Dr. Twiggs asked everyone from Edgefield to stand and be acknowledged. He said that he believed it to be the largest group ever to attend a Hall of Fame ceremony for a new candidate that was deceased. Among those attending were 25 members of Bethlehem and Mt. Canaan churches, whom County Councilwoman Betty Butler brought with her, as well as representatives from Edgefield’s pottery and arts community.
Brenda Baratto,Director of the Aiken County Museum of History, conceived the idea of proposing David Drake for inclusion in this roster of exceptional South Carolinians. She asked Leonard Todd to write the proposal for his candidacy. Drake was accepted the first year he was considered, an honor in itself.
Congratulations to Dave!