Archive for the ‘Relevant articles’ Category

Celebrating Reconstruction in Beaufort, SC @GullahGeechee

January 10, 2018

One year ago, hundreds of people gathered together on historic St. Helena Island, SC in celebration of a major victory-receiving the Reconstruction Era National Monument designation for multiple sites in Beaufort County, SC at Gullah/Geechee.  Since that time, institutions and organizations have started focusing on the history of the timeframe from 1865 to 1877 in order to offer visitors to St. Helena Island, Beaufort, and Port Royal numerous places in which they can learn the importance of the era that followed the end of the United States Civil War.

On January 12, 2018, the public is invited to join the National Park Service (NPS) and park partners to celebrate the one year anniversary of the creation of Reconstruction Era National Monument. Festivities will kick off at 10 a.m. with a special program featuring music and remarks from the NPS, United States Congressional delegation and park partners at the Beaufort Arsenal, located at 713 Craven Street in Beaufort. The highlight will be the unveiling of a unique piece of art by Gullah/Geechee artist Sonja Griffin Evans to celebrate the park’s anniversary.

From noon 4 p.m., special talks, tours and activities will be offered at each of the four sites comprising Reconstruction Era National Monument:

●       Beaufort Arsenal – Tours of Beaufort’s downtown Reconstruction-related sites.

●       Darrah Hall at Penn Center – Talks, junior youth praise dance and programs on Reconstruction.

●       Brick Baptist Church – Praise dances, spirituals and educational programs.

●       Camp Saxton via Fort Fredrick site – Fort tours and activities relating to the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation at Camp Saxton on January 1, 1863.

●       Old Beaufort Firehouse – NPS and park partners will offer a variety of educational information about Reconstruction and historic Lowcountry.

All of the events for the day are free.

The Reconstruction Era National Monument is dedicated to commemorating the period from 1861 through 1900 when nearly four million previously enslaved Africans sought to integrate into a free society and into the educational, economic, and political life of the country that they actually built.   The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition in collaboration with Gullah African Diaspora Artists (GADA) will host a conference that will delve deeply into the Gullah/Geechee story of Reconstruction.  The Realities of Reconstruction Conference” will be held at the new Mather Museum and Interpretive Center which is located at the historic Mather School campus which is now the Technical College of the Lowcountry.  The conference will give the participants an opportunity to visit several sites beyond those that are officially a part of the Reconstruction Era National Monument.  It will conclude with a tribute to Harriet Tubman held at the Combahee River where she led a historic raid along with Colonel Montgomery during the US Civil War.   Registration for this interactive conference is now open at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/realities-of-reconstruction-conference-tickets-41538624143

 

Realities of Reconstruction Conference

Hunnuh cum and bring de famlee fa celebrate Reconstruction een Beaufort County @GullahGeechee!

www.GullahGeecheeNation.com

 

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January 4, 2018
Queen Quet's Gullah/Geechee Snowman

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) built this snowman in the midst of the Sea Island Snow Storm 2018.

Well, 2018 has started off as a winter wonderland throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  Folks were posting images and videos of snow in their yards and on their homes and cars as well as icicles on the trees from Florida to the Carolinas.   The storm which under went bombogenesis left the Sea Islands covered in white and then continued northward where many of the members of our Gullah/Geechee Diaspora are located.

Over the past several years, the Gullah/Geechee family has watched The Weather Channel and posted on social media while in prayer for each other due to hurricanes, flooding, and winter storms.   This was no different yesterday and today as we watched a storm that is being called a “bomb cyclone” make its way up the entire eastern seaboard of North America.

Before the storm left the Gullah/Geechee Nation it left behind not only snowmen, cold, ice, and many memories, but also the following heights of snowfall:

  • Summerville: 7.3 inches
  • Moncks Corner: 6.5 inches
  • Ridgeland: 6.0 inches
  • Charleston Airport: 5.3 inches
  • Goose Creek: 5.3 inches
  • Ladson: 4.8 inches
  • St. Helena Island, SC 4.5 inches
  • Hilton Head Island: 4.5 inches
  • Bluffton: 4.0 inches
  • Yemassee: 4.0 inches
Winter Storm Grayson has brought flashbacks to those of us that remember the huge snow storm of 1989 during which we made snowmen and took pictures of this novelty.  It was rare to see snow on the Sea Islands.  However, between then and now, my family and I have gathered a bit of the flurries and made miniature snowmen at least one time since then.   Although that part is a fun activity for family and expands creativity, the trees being weighed down by ice that break are just as with the trees that break during hurricane winds are not fun.  So, once again, we have to be prepared for more than snow days off from work and away from school.  We have to stay ready for emergencies brought on by the impacts of the changing climate in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
The Weather Channel helped us capture why it is important to the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition to focus on educating the community about how important it is to recognize climate change and to be prepared for storms and storm related emergencies and recovery:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/240678169?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

A Vanishing Culture, A Vanishing Land from Weather Films on Vimeo.

https://gullahgeecheenation.com/2017/11/14/sea-level-rise-in-the-gullah-geechee-nation-featured-on-the-weather-channel/
We believe in being proactive.  Therefore, we are hosting two events that will allow Gullah/Geechee families to better prepare for and recover from storms and storm related emergencies.  Both events will be held at the St. Helena Branch Library on historic St. Helena Island, SC and both require advance registration:

Gullah/Geechee Preparing for Storms and Emergencies Workshop

The Gullah/Geechee Preparing for Storms and Emergencies Workshop will be an evening workshop specifically designed for Gullah/Geechee families to assist them with recognizing various aspects of climate change and how these impact the continuation of their cultural heritage and ability to remain on their land.   Participants will learn how to prepare an emergency kit and be provided with necessary mechanisms for contacts in preparation for, during, and after a storm.  The event is FREE.  Space is limited.  Pre-registration is required at
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gullahgeechee-preparing-for-storms-and-emergencies-workshop-tickets-41537658254

Coastal Cultures Conference 2018-Emergency Preparedness and Cultural Continuation in Coastal Communities

Coastal Cultures Conference 2018
The 6th Annual “Coastal Cultures Conference” will also focus on emergency preparedness and cultural continuation in coastal communities and is open to people from around the world.   The event includes a Gullah/Geechee meal and interactive activities done by the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association members.   Take home materials will be provided to all attendees.  Each year participants also engage in a field opportunity on the island.   Pre-registration is required at
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coastal-cultures-conference-2018-emergency-preparedness-and-cultural-continuation-in-coastal-tickets-41538499771
All this snow and cold has many people already wishing it was summer time, but before we get there, we need to prepare.  So, we hope hunnuh gwine jayn we cuz de climate sho da change pun dees ya islandts ob de #GullahGeehee!

 

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

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

De Gullah/Geechee Foundation of America

October 5, 2017

Many people only look to the Gullah/Geechee Nation to hear storytelling and music or to seek out a great plate of food.  However, when they arrive on the soil of the Sea Islands and Lowcountry between Jacksonville, NC and Jacksonville, FL they are now walking on the foundation of America that is held together by the blood, sweat, and tears of the Africans from Angola, Ivory Coast, Burkina-Faso, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Togo, Benin, Gabon, Congo, and Zaire as well as some from Madagascar and Mozambique.  These Africans from numerous ethnic groups became called “slaves” by the enslavers, but they retained their ethnic names amongst themselves.  Over time, all of their DNA and traditions began to flow together like the waters of the Sea Islands and this flowed into the amalgamation of their cultural expressions.  The culture that they created is now called “Gullah/Geechee.”

The knowledge base of millions of Africans was exploited in order to have lands cleared, buildings designed and built-the big houses and enslavement cabins as well as the forts along the shores of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast to name a few-and to have fields planted and harvested so that the crops became “cash” as they were sold on the international market.  The very ships that the Africans that were considered to be “cargo” where transported on as well as those that returned with the crops to other lands were insured by those in what are now the northern states including the New York and New England.  TransAtlantic Slave Trade was the economic engine that caused the colonies to continue to be built up and to be places to which others continued to come to by choice as well as by force.

The fact that Africans literally built up this cultural landscape by hand and that they were the ones that managed the areas called “plantations” and took care of the people enslaved therein as well as taking care of the enslavers, is not the story conveyed as people continue to journey to the plantations of the coast and spend millions of dollars per year to simply see the grounds and to hear the stories of what life was like.  However, the stories at these sites and those of the missionary schools and schools formed to be places in which the children that enslavers had with African women are inaccurately told in order to make them palatable and to remove the true “value” of the Africans from the storylines stated by docents and by plantation “historians,” curators, re-enactors, and storytellers.

Due to a consistent repetition of inaccuracy, many people think that all Gullah/Geechees came from Sierra Leone when only a small percentage of Gullah/Geechee ancestors came from that one country.  It is more accurate to state that a large number of Gullah/Geechee ancestors came from the Windward Coast/Rice Coast region.  Many Gullah/Geechees also have native American or indigenous American ancestry as well.

While millions of people remain unaware of the existence of Gullah/Geechee people and the Gullah/Geechee Nation, there are those that have heard these terms, but are still unclear on what they mean and visits to the aforementioned locations do not often have them depart with clarity in regard to it.  Many that have heard these terms, but are unaware of the origins of the terms “Gullah” and “Geechee” are also still concerned about whether or not to call anyone “Geechee” since for decades many people in the African American community used “Geechee” as a derogatory form against many people of African descent from the south (all of whom are were not from the coastal area that is now the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  They were simply “southern Blacks.”) that did not speak in the same manner that they did.  This was especially encountered when Gullah/Geechees ventured up north as part of and after the Great Migration.

Interestingly enough, many Gullah/Geechee words are part of American English and people do not give any credit to Africans for their contribution to English while they try to demote the Gullah language to a dialect of English when in fact it is a language unto itself which Geechee emerged from as fluent Gullah speakers tried to communicate with those that only spoke English.  To learn more about the journey that English has taken and some of the Gullah contributions to it, watch “The Adventure of English:”

“Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Awareness Month” provides us an opportunity to dispel many of the myths that continue to harm native Gullah/Geechees.  To that end, we encourage you to tune into these videos and to share them with others that are seeking to learn de trut bout who webe doung ya:

• Meaning of the Gullah/Geechee Nation Flag:

 

• Who de Gullah/Geechee Be:

• Origins of Gullah and Geechee:

Ef hunnuh wan yeddi mo bout who webe, gwine yonda fa shum pun Gullah/Geechee TV (GGTV) www.gullahgeechee.tv.

www.gullahgeecheenation.com

Queen Quet’s AFWLC Roundtable

August 22, 2017

Africa Fashion Week Lowcountry will be an opportunity for citizens and guests of historic St. Helena Island, SC to meet and engage with Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation at “De Queen’s Roundtable.”  The event will be held at the Hampton House at Penn Center, Inc. on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 from 6 to 7:30 pm.  Admission is by donation and books, CDs, and DVDs will be on sale.

Queen Quet will present on “De Gullah/Geechee Ooman a Cut Above de Ress and Ahead ob e Time!”  She will focus on the fashions of Gullah/Geechee women and her work within the fashion industry.

Queen Quet's AFWLC Roundtable

www.gullahgeecheenation.com