If you have lived south of Broad Street, there is a great chance that you may remember a very agile, tiny man, Mr. Felder Hutchinson, serving you as a mail carrier for over thirty years until his retirement in 1985. If you are a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Thomas Street, you may have had the pleasure of encountering Hutchinson either as a dedicated Sunday school teacher, vestryman, warden, or lay reader — just to name a few of his numerous functions.
In 1985, Dr. Edmund L. Drago and Dr. Eugene Hunt conducted an interview with Felder Hutchinson as part of the Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project. In this oral history, Hutchinson provides great insight on Charleston history. Although Hutchinson was not a historian by training, he clearly was an avid collector of memories and documents, especially pertaining to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
I remember a quote from the former director of the Avery Research Center, Dr. Marvin Dulaney, who asked my African American Studies class back in 2007: “Do you really believe we have left segregation behind us? Why is it then that our nation is so segregated on Sunday mornings at 11am?” At that moment it wasn’t quite clear to me what he was trying to get at, but then this interview made it click for me: yes, why is it that white folks and black folks in the Holy City each flock to their churches separately every week? Well, there are various reasons and multiple books and dissertations have been published on this issue; but as I listened to Hutchinson’s interview he gave a very interesting, personal account on the creation and founding of his beloved church: St. Mark’s Episcopal.