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How indigo, a largely forgotten crop, unites South Carolina’s past and present

Indigo’s Impact on South Carolina’s Past and Present

How Indigo Brings South Carolina’s Past and Present Together


Charleston, South Carolina — Sheena Myers makes her indigo soap knowing that nothing can erase South Carolina’s past.

“There’s a whole story behind what I do,” Myers told CBS News. “…It’s really deep.”

The beautiful color of indigo dye is surrounded by an ugly history. In the mid-1700s, wealthy South Carolina planters called it “blue gold,” a labor-intensive cash crop produced by the sweat of slaves.

For Myers, it’s personal. Among these enslaved indigo workers was her great-great-grandmother.

His indigo company, Genotype, sells skin care and medications for psoriasis, peptic ulcers and bronchitis, with annual sales exceeding $1 million.

“Because they were humiliated, and now I’m honored,” Myers said. “And the fact that I’m being honored, it’s like I’m honoring them as well. I don’t think they would have ever thought that in a million years they would have a descendant creating things like this.”

Later, Precious Jennings grows indigo to process her natural dye powder, a farm-to-fabric process that amounts to digging for healing in the dirt of a former plantation.

“Every day that I come to this land, I honor, I think of and I thank the people who were here and enslaved on this land,” Jennings said.

Myers wants to pass on his business and family history to his three sons.

“If they keep this business alive, it won’t go away,” Myers said, hoping to let a new indigo legacy rich in humility flourish.

“This will continue,” Myers said.


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