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lammius

Gullah/Geechee Sites

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Hi SC forumers! I'm preparing to visit coastal SC and am interested in learning about the Gullah/Geechee culture there. How much of the culture remains, and where are some good places to go to witness it or learn about it? Are there specific sites, plantation museums, communities that you guys could recommend?

Thank you!

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Im not too familar with this stuff but if you are in Mt Pleasant on US 17, try Gullahs restaurant sometime.

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There is a Gullah "museum" of some sort in DT Chas, but I don't know exactly where it is. Mt. Pleasant, a suburb of Chas, has some areas where sweetgrass baskets are still made along US 17. There are also basket weavers in downtown...if you go down there, talk to some of the people selling the baskets. They would know alot about Gullah culture. As far as food, Jerseyman is right...go to that restaurant. Good eatin'!

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Like CN said definitely try to speak to the people making the sweetgrass baskets because alot of them have connections with gullah culture. I don't know of any specific places you could go sadly, though I would have pointed you in the direction of the International African American Museum if they would ever build the place. Here is a quote from one of the texts submitted for the museum. From what I understand over 30% of all Americans of African descent can trace their history through Charleston. You might also check with the Charleston vistors center I'm sure they could help you out.

Gullah communities, made up of people who are descendants of slaves, are located mostly on the

Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. They have a unique culture that is directly linked to

West Africa. In South Carolina, this group of African Americans and the language they speak

are called Gullah. In Georgia, they are called Geechee. Native Islanders is another term that

refers to the Gullah and Geechee people.

Gullah is also a language, developed among Africans to communicate with people from other

tribes and Europeans. Gullah/Geechee is no longer considered poor English. In 1930 it was

discovered that this is a language made up of English and over 4,000 words from many different

African languages.

Many historians believe that the word Gullah comes from Angola, a West African country from

which many slaves came. Another idea is that Gullah is from the Gola, a tribe found near the

border of Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa. Although where the word comes from is not

known, many people agree that the Gullah/Geechee people and their language have African

roots.

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Well first of all, thank you for your interest in Gullah, and also for your upcoming visit to our city and home.

First and foremost, before you come down. It is a necessity to download and watch this video:

files.filefront.com/Family_Across_The_Sea___South_Carolina_2_Sierra_Le/;4618217;;/fileinfo.html

Its 257 MBs. But definitely worth the space. This will give you all the background understanding that you need before you come and visit.

When you Downtown to Charleston. This is who you need to go see. My good friend Alphonso Brown. He owns and operates Gullah Tours.

http://www.gullahtours.com/index.html

As far as the food is concerned, I recommend Walis which is on the corner of Spring St. and Rutledge Avenue, downtown. 843-853-2517. Here you can get delicious Gullah dishes like Hoppin John, Red Rice, and many other things. Walis is a takeout place though. You also have Gullah Cuisine, which is up 17 North, in Mount Pleasant. And a few other places, I'll come back and list when I get some information to give you.

To answer your question. YES. A lot of Gullah culture still remains. But come quick!!! Downtown Charleston specifically is undergoing RAPID changes. The face and soul of the Black community of Downtown Charleston is rapidly erasing day by day. Places like Johns Island are also undergoing a lot of development, but you can still visit out there and see the culture.

I would recommend to you however, that if you come down here. You visit Beaufort and St. Helena Island also, which is about 50 minutes to an hour down Highway 17. I can get you some info from Ms Marquetta Goodwine, whos the Queen Quet of the Gullah Geechee Nation, because shes from Beaufort, and they basically handle all of the tours and whatnot in the Beaufort area.

As soon as I get a chance I will come back and provide anymore info you may want. Just let me know what youre looking for, and I'll do my best to answer or provide. I appreciate your interest.

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Ah some very good recommendations, I completely forgot about Gullah Tours I have heard some good things about it.

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Thank you guys for all of the recommendations. I've seen the Family Across the Sea documentary before. One of my undergraduate professors, Joseph Opala, was a big part of getting that together and arranging the meeting.

I'll give a shot at talking to basketmakers and others I encounter, but I've been given the impression that they don't like sharing too much of their culture with outsiders. Perhaps that's largely a characteristic of Gullah on the more remote sea islands and not Charleston and other cities.

I had the opportunity to meet some Geechee people in Georgia in 2002. It was an amazing experience meeting and talking to people, especially an artifact collector I met near Brunswick and a descendent of Amelia Dawley I met in Harris Neck. A formal culture center or museum was lacking, however. I think it can be argued that's both a good and bad thing.

Unlike my Georgia trip, I haven't made any arrangements to meet people in advance. I'm hoping to make a more casual go at it this time. I'm looking forward to meeting people and eating lots of excellent food!

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Thank you guys for all of the recommendations. I've seen the Family Across the Sea documentary before. One of my undergraduate professors, Joseph Opala, was a big part of getting that together and arranging the meeting.

I'll give a shot at talking to basketmakers and others I encounter, but I've been given the impression that they don't like sharing too much of their culture with outsiders. Perhaps that's largely a characteristic of Gullah on the more remote sea islands and not Charleston and other cities.

I had the opportunity to meet some Geechee people in Georgia in 2002. It was an amazing experience meeting and talking to people, especially an artifact collector I met near Brunswick and a descendent of Amelia Dawley I met in Harris Neck. A formal culture center or museum was lacking, however. I think it can be argued that's both a good and bad thing.

Unlike my Georgia trip, I haven't made any arrangements to meet people in advance. I'm hoping to make a more casual go at it this time. I'm looking forward to meeting people and eating lots of excellent food!

OK, youve seen Family Across The Sea!!!!

Well what you really need to do is email Queen Quet. This is her e-mail address, [email protected]

and she should answer swiftly. This is your best contact to have things planned when you come down. Unfortunately, even though our culture is most prominent in Charleston, the powers that be completely ignore it for the most part. Its grossly underappreciated, and in turn you have very little advertisement of the culture when the city of Charleston is promoted, and few activities available for those interested.

But like I said, Queen Quet would be the BEST person to contact. E-mail her. And I will add more things to this thread as I get them.

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OK, youve seen Family Across The Sea!!!!

Well what you really need to do is email Queen Quet. This is her e-mail address, [email protected]

and she should answer swiftly. This is your best contact to have things planned when you come down. Unfortunately, even though our culture is most prominent in Charleston, the powers that be completely ignore it for the most part. Its grossly underappreciated, and in turn you have very little advertisement of the culture when the city of Charleston is promoted, and few activities available for those interested.

But like I said, Queen Quet would be the BEST person to contact. E-mail her. And I will add more things to this thread as I get them.

L-Beware,

Thanks for the contact! I just returned to NJ and unfortunately I didn't get an opportunity to explore very much. I was hoping to go around w/ my grandmother who retired in SC, but she had to spend some time in the hospital over the weekend. So I didn't venture out at all. Believe it or not I have a file called "Gullah" in my file cabinet. I've placed Queen Quet's info in there and hopefully I'll get to visit again soon!

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What has made you so interested lammius??? Im from Downtown Charleston, was born and raised in a Charleston Single House (West African/Gullah shotgun architectural design brought to America), my grandmother went to high school at Avery Institute which is the first and only Black school created in Charleston after the civil war (it was Avery School back then), the whole female side of my family (especially the older folk) grew up learning how to weave sweetgrass baskets and such, cook red rice, okra soup, hoppin john, frogmore stew, etc......We still have land in Mount Pleasant in our family from after the civil war, thats heirs property. Where the title is still split between all the children of my great-great-grandfather lol. South Carolina is the only state where heirs property is legally recognized, this is because so many families have heirs property that stems from the results of the civil war and the 40 acres and a mule field order. All of this is Gullah history. As you probably already know. Plus all the words that have come to America through the Gullah language like banana, juke, gumbo, tote, voodoo, bubba. Bubba is a word we use, it means brother. People have come to use it as a name though.

Lots and lots of history. I was interviewing my grand-uncle this past spring break, trying to get as much history and knowledge I could out of him while his memory is still somewhat sharp. He was telling me how his daddy's mother, was a little girl when freedom came. This is in the Highway 41 area of Mount Pleasant.

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What has made you so interested lammius??? Im from Downtown Charleston, was born and raised in a Charleston Single House (West African/Gullah shotgun architectural design brought to America), my grandmother went to high school at Avery Institute which is the first and only Black school created in Charleston after the civil war (it was Avery School back then), the whole female side of my family (especially the older folk) grew up learning how to weave sweetgrass baskets and such, cook red rice, okra soup, hoppin john, frogmore stew, etc......We still have land in Mount Pleasant in our family from after the civil war, thats heirs property. Where the title is still split between all the children of my great-great-grandfather lol. South Carolina is the only state where heirs property is legally recognized, this is because so many families have heirs property that stems from the results of the civil war and the 40 acres and a mule field order. All of this is Gullah history. As you probably already know. Plus all the words that have come to America through the Gullah language like banana, juke, gumbo, tote, voodoo, bubba. Bubba is a word we use, it means brother. People have come to use it as a name though.

Lots and lots of history. I was interviewing my grand-uncle this past spring break, trying to get as much history and knowledge I could out of him while his memory is still somewhat sharp. He was telling me how his daddy's mother, was a little girl when freedom came. This is in the Highway 41 area of Mount Pleasant.

I was a history major in college. One of my classes was taught by Joe Opala and it was on the subject of Gullah/Geechee history in North America and W Africa. Our objective was to produce a document that would be submitted to the National Park Service in an effort to establish National parks & historic sites in several states that are important to Gullah/Geechee history. In 2002 I went to coastal Georgia and visited several of the potential sites in that state.

My career has moved away from history, but I've always thought of that project as one of my favorite undergraduate experiences.

I hope you're able to get lots of info out of your great uncle. The stories of older generations are a wonderful resource! I'm trying to get info from my grandfather about his Mennonite upbringing in South Philly.

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Lammius, I think you will be interested in this article from the Post & Courier, Charleston's daily.

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Lammius, I think you will be interested in this article from the Post & Courier, Charleston's daily.

Thanks for that link! It is indeed an interesting story. I'll forward it to some of the people I know at JMU. Hopefully these families won't get pushed out by big box retail and subdivisions!

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