Archive for the ‘Action Point’ Category

Public Hearings and Public Health in the Gullah/Geechee Nation

April 5, 2018

The Gullah/Geechee Nation is participating in National Public Health Week along with others throughout the United States April 2-8, 2018.   “Changing Our Future Together” requires an understanding of the various ways that we can support improving public health.  Each day of #NPHW has a different focus ranging from behavioral health and communicable diseases to injury and violence prevention and access to ensuring the right to health care and environmental health.  The Gullah/Geechee Nation has placed emphasis on the latter of the categories for the week given that improving and maintaining environmental health especially of the waterways.  Water quality, seafood safety and human health are the central focus of the work of the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank.  This is a priority because without a healthy Gullah/Geechee Nation environment, the citizens will not be healthy.

The website for #NPHW ask and answers the questions:

Why Should I Care?

Why Should I Care?:  “In the U.S., air pollution contributes to thousands of premature births and costs billions of dollars. In 2007, asthma cost the U.S. $56 billion in medical care, lost productivity and premature death. Costs of childhood lead poisoning are also in the billions (though each dollar invested in controlling the environmental hazard returns up to $200 in savings). The economic benefit of cleaning up mercury and other air toxins is in the billions — not to mention the up to 46,000 premature deaths that could be prevented.

Then there’s climate change, which will continue to impact people’s health and just about every factor that influences our health. Climate change is a serious risk to human health, impacting our food, water, air, disease risk and mental well-being. It’s expected to increase heat-related deaths, exacerbate chronic conditions such as respiratory illnesses and heart disease, increase dangerous asthma events, increase the severity and frequency of natural disasters, and endanger water safety and food security. Recent studies also document the mental toll of climate-related events. For example, two years after Superstorm Sandy, those who experienced the disaster were still reporting serious mental distress at levels nearly twice the national average.

In the last decade, extreme weather and fire events have cost the country more than $350 billion, and climate change is only predicted to make it worse. However, the negative impacts of climate change won’t be evenly distributed — it’s expected to worsen existing inequalities. One study estimated that if nothing is done about climate change, the poorest third of U.S. counties could experience climate-related damages costing up to 20 percent of a county’s entire income.”

What Can I Do?

What can I do?:

#SpeakForHealth: Environmental health is closely intertwined with policy, from laws that keep our air and water clean to rules that protect us from toxic chemicals to local ordinances that ensure healthy housing. For example, by 2020, the Clean Air Act will have prevented more than 230,000 early deaths. And thanks to policies that removed lead from products like house paint and gasoline, dangerous blood lead levels in children have plummeted (though more than 3 million young kids still live in homes with a lead risk). Smart policies that prioritize health can make a big difference.

Use your voice to support policies and decisions that prevent harmful environmental exposures, build community resilience and protect the most vulnerable. Support funding for strong environmental public health systems — these are the systems that monitor our communities for dangerous contaminants and fend off preventable disease.

Demand action on climate change: Climate change is real and one of the greatest health threats of the 21st century. Support efforts and policies that reduce climate-related emissions, prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change, and ready the country for a clean energy future. For example, if the Clean Power Plan stays on the books, it could save the country $20 billion in climate costs and deliver up to $34 billion in health benefits. Local and individual action on climate change makes a difference, too — learn how.

Stand for environmental justice: Environmental health risks affect some communities much more than others. For example, research shows polluting industries are disproportionately located in poor communities and in communities of color. Another example: While the number of Americans with asthma increased to 25 million between 2001 and 2009, black children shouldered a disproportionate burden, with rates going up 50 percent. Learn more about environmental injustice and how to take action at the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.  Several of the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank members partnered with the NAACP’s program during 2017 at which Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation provided these closing remarks:

The work of the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition continues well beyond National Public Health Week.  The closing of #NPHW signals the opening of a week of public hearings in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  The hearings will determine what will take place at locations along the North Carolina and Georgia coast.

From 1936 to 1974, Kerr-McGee and other companies used a 245-acre plantation site in Navassa, NC bounded by the Brunswick River, Sturgeon Creek, a residential area, and a light industrial area for creosote-based wood treating. By 1980, Kerr-McGee dismantled the wood-treatment buildings and facilities. This was done after the area had already been contaminated and declared a “superfund site.”   The soil, sediment and groundwater are contaminated by creosote-related chemicals. The EPA has stated that the contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the Site.

In 2005, the Site was conveyed to Tronox, a Kerr-McGee spinoff that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. In 2011, the Multistate Trust acquired the Site as a court-appointed trustee as part of the Tronox bankruptcy settlement. The Multistate Trust is working with its beneficiaries—EPA and N.C. DEQ—on the Site investigation, remediation and redevelopment planning.

The Multistate Trust has been working with EPA and N.C. DEQ on Site reuse planning with the Redevelopment Working Group of citizens, community leaders, local elected officials and other stakeholders. A community visioning workshop was held Feb. 23–24 to provide a forum for citizens to help shape the future of the Site. Residents, local leaders, and other stakeholders worked in small groups at the workshop to create possible redevelopment options for the site. Potential redevelopment options will arose from the workshop and online input statements that were taken until the end of March will be a topic of discussion during the public availability session and the public meeting on April 10 about the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Navassa Superfund Site in Navassa, N.C.

Navassa-Kerr-McGee-2018-4-10-Public-Meeting-Flyer-v2-FINAL-WEB

Public Availability Session – 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Residents will have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with experts about the Site, environmental investigations, redevelopment planning, and related topics. Representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (N.C. DEQ), and the Multistate Environmental Response Trust (Multistate Trust) will be available to answer questions and share information.

Public Meeting – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Representatives of EPA, N.C. DEQ, and the Multistate Trust will provide updates on Site environmental investigations, the upcoming study of potential remediation options, and possible redevelopment alternatives, and will answer questions.

Topics will include:

  • Environmental Investigations—The Remedial Investigation (RI) of the Site and the upcoming (RI) report is a study designed to collect the data necessary to: (1) determine the nature and extent of contamination on and off the Site; (2) characterize Site conditions; and (3) assess risk to human health and the environment.
  • Possible remediation options—The upcoming Feasibility Study (FS) of potential remediation options is designed to identify and evaluate potential remedies to address contamination at the Site, and to assess possible technologies and alternatives for their effectiveness in protecting human health and the environment.
  • Redevelopment Planning Initiative—The draft redevelopment options that resulted from the Feb. 23–24 Community Visioning Workshop held as part of the Multistate Trust’s ongoing effort to identify community-backed alternatives for the Site’s reuse.

 What is the goal of the RPI?

The goal of the RPI is to identify community-supported plans for potential Site reuses that protect human health and the environment and are environmentally and economically sustainable.

Learn more about the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp Site – Navassa at http://multi-trust.org/navassa-north-carolina or https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0403028.

If you have any questions, please contact Richard Elliott of the Multistate Trust at (617) 953-1154 or re@g-etg.com.

Gullah/Geechee Nation Sunset

At the opposite end of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast just before you enter Florida, there is the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a crown jewel on the Atlantic Coast. The island boasts nearly 20 miles of natural unspoiled beach, marshes and maritime forest, and acres of precious coastal wilderness.   Unfortunately, what makes this seashore a national treasure is at risk.

Camden County commissioners have asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow them to build a spaceport to launch commercial rockets over the seashore. If allowed, this could bring negative impacts to the health of Cumberland Island’s unique historic and natural resources, the safety of visitors, residents and wildlife on the island, and the impact of rocket debris and fuel contaminants to the coastal waters off the island.

The FAA has prepared a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in which they recommended issuing Camden County a license to build and operate the proposed spaceport.  Come out to this public meeting to ask the FAA questions about this plan and express your concerns about a spaceport and rocket launches over Cumberland Island.

Event Details

WHAT: Public meeting: Tell FAA, “No way” to rocket launches over Cumberland Island National Seashore

WHEN: Wednesday, April 11, and Thursday, April 12, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Camden County Public Service Authority Recreation Center Community Room, 1050 Wildcat Drive, Kingsland, GA 31545

RSVP: Register here. (This will allow you to obtain some helpful talking points ahead of the hearing.)

The public hearings will include an information session from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the FAA presentation from 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., and a public statement period in which any individual may provide up to a 3-minute statement. Attending and sharing your own statement in support of protecting Cumberland Island would be enormously helpful. The FAA will transcribe all oral comments. All comments received through May 16 will be given equal weight and be taken into consideration in the preparation of the final EIS.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please share your concerns with the FAA by taking action online. For additional information, visit http://protectcumberlandisland.org/

It is critical to be a part of these public hearings that will assist in healing and maintaining the health of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s environment.  The negative impacts of contaminants in the Charleston, SC area have led to a number of illnesses that the citizens have.  The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

Gullah Research Day Invitation Flyeris a Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank member institution that is focused on assisting with improving the public health along the South Carolina coast which is sandwiched between these two states where the hearings are taking place.  In order to learn more about the work that they have done, they will close out the month with Gullah Research Day” on Johns Island, SC.  The public is invited to attend the event. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/195967680999964/ for more details.

The Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank will conclude the week of public hearings with their annual conference.  The Coastal Cultures Conference will be held at the shoreline of Hunting Island Nature Center.  Attending this interactive event will increase your understanding of the importance of the health of the waterways and natural environment of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and how healing the environment definitely protects human health.  Leaving the event will give you more insight and tools to use in order to fight to prevent any future contamination of the coast.

May National Public Health Week and the weeks following inspire you to #SpeakforHealth.

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The Gullah/Geechee Nation will host several events during the month of April so that the public can improve their health by being outdoors with their families.   Gwine ya fa mo info ef hunnuh wan go:

https://gullahgeecheenation.com/2018/04/03/gullah-geechee-nation-springs-into-saturday-celebrations/

www.GullahGeecheeNation.com

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Civil War 3-#StoptheDrill and #GullahGeechee

February 16, 2018

Our morning began in the cold as we left St. Helena Island.  We were on the road at the hour that most of our ancestors and elders had to journey out into the fields and into the creeks.  Ain bin dayclean yet.   Even though the sun wasn’t shining and the wind was cutting, the more of us that got into the car, the warmer it got.  By the time we got to the bus in Yemassee, our fire for freedom was a blaze and it felt hot.

As our bus headed up the ramp from Beaufort County, more buses left from Georgetown and Charleston County.   They thought that they would make the decisions for us in the Midlands and in DC, but we were coming to let them know that we already decided what would take place in the Lowcountry to protect the Gullah/Geechee.

On board the bus, I felt like we were taking yet another freedom ride and through it would have to turn this political tide.  As I stood on the steps of the South Carolina State House, I stood firm and listened very closely.  As I heard the words from the representative from Greeleyville ringing out saying “We want our freedom now!” coupled with the words back to back from the other representatives saying that we are here to send a clear message to Washington, DC, I stood there thinking “South Carolina is firing again and this will be Civil War 3!”

South Carolina was the first state to succeed from the Union if you will recall the history.  Reconstruction was, as the documentary is entitled, “the second civil war” for Black people coming out of slavery.   So, as the words rang out that we will NOT be dictated to by DC, I stood there proud that so many agree with the stand of the Gullah/Geechee.

Gullah/Geechee Stand Up to #StoptheDrill and #ProtectOurCoast

Gullah/Geechee natives Michael F. Rivers and Robert Brown who are representatives in the South Carolina Legislature came and stood with the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association.  The moment will forever be embossed in my mind and in ourstory of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  In order to #StoptheDrill and #ProtectOurCoast we took a stand.  We will NOT allow seismic guns and oil to destroy our cultural heritage, our waters, and our Sea Island sand!   We stood for those that can no longer physically march nor stand and we will continue this fight with all that we can.

United were the people that took this freedom journey from our coast to the middle of the state and I will never forget the powerful energy that filled us on that date.   It is now time to get more people to speak through their pens and online.  We have until March 8th to enter comments in opposition to seismic guns and oil drilling one more time.  I pray that folks will write in to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) juss likka we.  We will not give up the fight to protect our homeland nor the sea!   Hunnuh chllun, cum be souljahs een disya armee wid de #GullahGeechee!  Cum unite een disya fight wid we!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

Queen Quet Speaking Out at #StopTheDrill #ProtectOurCoast Rally

To hear some of the words Queen Quet shared at the rally to #StoptheDrill and #ProtectOurCoast, check out some of the media coverage:

• http://www.wltx.com/video/news/local/hundreds-gather-in-opposition-of-offshore-drilling/101-8007623

• http://www.wistv.com/clip/14124082/busloads-of-oil-drilling-protesters-confront-boem-in-town-hall-event

• https://www.facebook.com/StopOffshoreDrillingintheAtlantic/videos/2116119771957757/

 

After viewing, please get your comments in to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).   You can submit the comments and letters here: https://www.boem.gov/National-Program-Comment/  Please cc the letters to the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition at GullGeeCo@aol.com as well. 

 

Rallies to Stop Oil Drilling @GullahGeechee

February 1, 2018

The current US administration is attempting to overturn the the removal of the east coast from oil exploration and drilling.  The Gullah/Geechee Nation is calling on all of our citizens and supporters to stand with us and our environmental partners as we rally to #StoptheDrill and the use of seismic guns off of our coastline!

#StoptheDrill Off the #GullahGeechee Coast

You can come stand with us by:

  1. Submitting a letter to the Bureau of Oceans Energy Management (BOEM) before March 9, 2017.  Go here for details: https://gullahgeecheenation.com/2018/01/08/stopthedrill-gullahgeechee/
  2. Submitting opposition comments herehttps://www.protectourcoastnow.com/?utm_campaign=p-SELC_OCDPAE&utm_content&utm_source=fb&utm_medium=soc
  3. Boarding one of the buses departing South Carolina to head to the rally in Columbia, SC and to the BOEM meetings being held.  The rally at the South Carolina State House will be held at 11 am on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.  That afternoon environmental leaders fighting against this issue will speak at the Doubletree Hotel where the BOEM public comment session will also be held from 3 to 7 pm.
    Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Opposing Oil Drilling

    Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) and Founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition (www.GullahGeechee.net) continues to stand up in opposition to seismic gun use and oil drilling!

    Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) will be one of the speakers of the day.  Sign up here for a FREE ride to Columbia from either Beaufort, Charleston, or Georgetown Counties: http://www.coastalconservationleague.org/offshore-drilling-rally-shuttle-thank/

  4. Boarding the bus leaving the Outer Banks in NC for the rally in Raleigh on February 26, 2018.  To register go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/386612448466773/
  5. Plan to attend the BOEM “open meeting” in Atlanta, GA on Feb. 28 from 3-7pm at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel at One Hartsfield Centre Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30354. (404) 209-9999
  6. Stand up for the amendment to the Florida Constitution which will ban oil drilling forever. on February 19, 2018.  Get more details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/194797641107958/

 

This exploration will not bring life to our coast.  It will only kill.  So, hunnuh need fa stand wid de #GullahGeechee and #StoptheDrill!

Gullah/Geechee Stand Up to #StoptheDrill and #ProtectOurCoast

www.GullahGeechee.net

www.GullahGeecheeNation.com

Penn Center and the Gullah/Geechee Community

January 18, 2018

On the cold evening of January 17, 2018, Gullah/Geechees of St. Helena Island and a handful of newcomers to the area made their way into Frissell Community House at the Penn Center National Landmark Historic District.  The gathering was not unlike those that most of us that are native to the island grew up attending.  Folks blocked the doorway as they signed in with hugs and “good ednins” gwine on.   The smiles and “Happy New Year” greetings set the tone for what needs to be a new phase of the direction that this historic institution takes.

 

Penn Center Community Relations Committee Meeting

 

Penn Center, Inc. originated as “Penn School” in 1862 when it was founded by northern missionaries that did not have an understanding of the Sea Island community to which they came.  To that end, they did not respect the local language and felt it was their “calling” to educate the people that attended the school which included insuring that they would not carry on their own language except when it would be done in songs which entertained the potential donors that visited the campus.  These singing sessions continued when Penn closed as a school and became a non-profit organization called “Penn Community Services” and remains under “Penn Center, Inc.”  These sessions are called “Community Sing” and are held on the third Sunday evening of each month.

The Gullah/Geechee family of St. Helena Island seemed to be singing in harmony once again during this first gathering of what is the Penn Center Community Relations Committee (CRC).  The CRC is a standing committee of the Penn Center, Inc. Board of Trustees. It was established on December 8, 2017 in order to improve and enhance the relationship between Penn Center, Inc. and the community it serves.

Interestingly enough, the improvements and enhancements that were stated during the working group sessions at the first meeting included people stating that the institution should not disrespect nor misrepresent Gullah/Geechee culture and that the local language needs to be continued.  The latter is definitely not the duty of the institution.  That is the duty of those that were the native Gullah/Geechees in the room and the others throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  However, the institution’s administration and board are being directed not to go back to what the past was when people on the campus is to denied the existence of our unique culture and our language and degraded the people that spoke Gullah fluently.  This is no doubt a concern given that fact that the institution that had a long history of being operated by Gullah/Geechees that volunteered at the space and Gullah/Geechee staff no longer has this.   The Board of Trustees for Penn Center, Inc. have heard numerous concerns about what this has caused in regard to relations with the local community and their guests that come to St. Helena Island and to that end, the CRC has been formed to address these concerns and more.  The community articulated their concerns via work sessions and came up with this list:

Penn Center CRC 1st Meeting Stop Notes

The community also provided input on what should continue or be kept at Penn as well as ideas on what things should begin there:

This input will be compiled and provided to the board at their next board meeting in order for their feedback to be returned to the community at the next CRC meeting.  A primary objective of the Community Relations Committee is to establish and maintain two-way communication between Penn Center’s board, staff and community members. The Community Relations Committee will host at a minimum, 1 Community Forum each quarter beginning January 2018, and will also provide leadership and coordination for the Community Sing Program.

The community encompasses the locality of St. Helena Island, as well as surrounding areas; anyone who is interested in the mission of the Penn Center, Inc. has an open invitation to participate in Community Relations Committee activities. The Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 pm in Frissell Community House on Penn’s campus on the following dates in 2018:

• March 21
• May 16
• July 18
• September 19
• November 21

This is an outstanding opportunity for the community to loan their voice to the future of Penn in order to insure that it will be improved and be supported for another over 150 years.  The fact that the first meeting was held two days after the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was no doubt Divinely Order since he, too, had gatherings of the community in this community house.   Now it will take those that gathered in the house and reasoned together to keep the house standing and to decorated it in a way that will truly honor our Gullah/Geechee ancestors that attended there and that literally built the buildings that stand as a historic treasure in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  Tenk GAWD fa all hunnuh chillun wha taut um not robree fa be een de numba!  Keep gwine on!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

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Queen Quet is not only the founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition which has supported numerous programs of Penn for over 20 years and brought hundreds of volunteers to the campus to donate to and work on the campus, she is also an advisor to the Penn Center Board of Trustees.  Queen Quet has received numerous awards for her community work including the “Women of Distinction Award” from Penn Center, Inc.  From 2013 to 2015, she proudly co-chaired the annual Heritage Days Celebration which is a homecoming for St. Helena Islanders and a major fundraiser for the institution.  Admission to that event will be FREE for 2018 according to an announcement made by the Penn Center Executive Director during the first meeting of the Community Relations Committee.

Unveiling Harriet Tubman’s Work in Beaufort, SC

October 18, 2017

My entire life it seems that I have been on a journey with Mother Moses Harriet Tubman.   One of the first books that I ever took out of a library was a book about her life which led to me continuously seeking out more books about her.  Eventually, this led to me reading about the lives of countless others that self-emancipated and those that assisted with the Underground Railroad.

I started to travel to towns that I read about and would walk up to the doorways of homes that I believed were the addresses of safe houses.  Fortunately, GOD kept me safe as I entered these homes that sometimes had historic markers outside and others that I was told were down the road or down the hill.  I walked into these places as a complete stranger and actually went into hiding places inside of walls so that I would have the same experience that our ancestors that refused to remain enslaved had.

Along the way, I got to see wagons with hiding places built into them and I got to talk to descendants of these conductors and passengers who would recount the stories to me the way they had been passed down in their families.  I not only spoke to people in the United States, but crossed over into Canada to find the town that was settled by Josiah Henderson who was the person that the character, “Uncle Tom” was based on.  It saddens me that a man that took his freedom and independently built an area where he could assist other Black people in their freedom through economic empowerment has had his true story erased by fiction and negativity.  If people knew his story, they would take no offense at being an “Uncle Tom.” Thousands are still unaware of his land ownership and his life’s work.

Just like Mother Moses, I made it to Canada searching for that “Promised Land,” but ended up coming back across the boarder into New York.  My journey to upstate New York led me to another safe house that had a marker, but didn’t allow public tours.   Yet, the owner let me come inside and she took me through the house and then encouraged me to stop by the Seward House once I told her that I was on my way to the home of Harriet Tubman.   Little did I know that the mansion that was the Seward House was a necessary part of knowing the truth of Harriet Tubman’s story in New York.  William H. Seward offered to give Harriet Tubman land on which to live and she refused to take anything for free.  She worked to pay him for the land and obtained her deed for it.

As part of my journey, GOD had it that I would work with the Underground Railroad Study and be a featured presenter when we unveiled the logo for the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Hundreds of us came together to fight for national recognition of the stories of Harriet Tubman and the others who laid the tracks to freedom via the Underground Railroad.  Now that the network was established, more focus came to the most well known conductor, Harriet Tubman.  So, we got enlisted into working on the Harriet Tubman Study.  Just as when Mother Moses heard of the war being fought that could help emancipate her people, I did as she did and signed up for this service.

While we worked on the Harriet Tubman Study, I thought of her journey from upstate New York to Beaufort, SC.  I thought of traveling all that way by foot with a bounty on her head.  Yet, my thoughts could never fully encapsulate the magnitude of such a journey until I made my way up these hills and mountains in New York State to get to her lovely home in Auburn.  I was in a car and found some of the terrain unbelievable to navigate.  So, thinking of walking and being in carts while also having to costume and camouflage yourself in order to insure that you were not recaptured and sold or killed for the bounty only added more to the magnitude of the mission.

I was blessed on my mission to meet family members of Harriet Tubman that were still running the small interpretive center and the home.   I got a chance to talk to them and tell them where I was from and the distance I had traveled to finally visit this place.  They were happy to hear it and they shared answers to several questions that I had.  However, Beaufort, SC didn’t seem to trigger anything significant with them or to strike any chords.

Thankfully the Civil War and people leaving the north to head southward to help did strike a chord with Mother Moses Harriet Tubman which led her to Beaufort, SC.   Thankfully she hit the right chord with the Gullah/Geechees along the Combahee River when she stood next to Colonel Montgomery as a soldier and helped to orchestrate the Combahee River Raid to free over 700 enslaved Gullah/Geechees from the rice fields along that river and get them to Beaufort, SC where the Union occupation was in place.  Harriet Tubman was a nurse and a scout for the Union and one could also add “recruiting officer” to her credits given the hundreds of Gullah/Geechees that joined the Union troops and got mustered into service at Port Royal because of encounters with her throughout what is now the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

When I first discovered a small amount of information noting that Harriet Tubman was in Beaufort, SC, I took it to the local historical society and asked for the address of her home and bakery and was actually asked “Who is Harriet Tubman?”   As a response to that, I marched in the history parade as her and then brought my play, “The Underground Railroad: A Geechee Girl’s Escape” to the town and to my home island of St. Helena to begin to shed light on our ancestors contribution to this major part of history and ourstory.  I wanted people to be well aware that even the greatest heroine amongst the freedom seekers of the 1800s was here in our area and she met with people such as Charlotte Forten while she was here.  I wanted to insure that if nobody else told it, I would make sure her story was told.

After a decade, I got an invitation to the name changing ceremony of the Combahee River Bridge to the Harriet Tubman Bridge on October 18, 2008.  I proudly stood with Pastor Kenneth Hodges to hold the photo of the aerial shot of the bridge at the conclusion of the ceremony.  Little did I know then that we would stand together with shovels in hand to break ground for the Harriet Tubman Monument at the site of the Tabernacle Baptist Church campus.  On Saturday, May 27, 2017, we lifted the soil at the location where a statue honoring Mother Moses and depicting her leading our people will be placed.  The public finally got to see the model of the sculpture that has been created by Ed Dwight when it got unveiled at this location on October 17, 2017.

Harriet Tubman Monument Model

I am now looking forward to being able to physically stand up next to Mother Moses Harriet Tubman since we have been standing and running together all my life.  I pray that the many others that have called her name, depicted her, written about her, and support her being on the United States $20 bill will send in the $20 bills and more to contribute to insuring that no one will ever again be in Beaufort County, SC without knowing about the existence and the legacy of Mother Moses Harriet Tubman.   Once they learn herstory at the base of the statue, I pray that they will join us in continuing to stand and fight for the global freedom and human rights of all people!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

Queen Quet at the Harriet Tubman Monument Model Unveiling

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) stands proudly next to the model for the Harriet Tubman Monument that will be placed at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. http://www.HarrietTubmanMonument.com

 

Tune in to the Gullah/Geechee TV coverage of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Harriet Tubman Monument:

 

www.HarrietTubmanMonument.com