Posts Tagged ‘Beaufort’

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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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

Reconstruction Era National Monument Request Public Input

August 15, 2017

Reconstruction National Monument Foundation MeetingBeaufort County, SC is the location of the new multi-site Reconstruction Era National Monument.  The US National Park Service is currently putting together their foundation document which will direct how they will manage and interpret the site.  To that end, they have held several public meetings throughout the county and are seeking public comments, please go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=571&projectID=73762&documentID=81456 before August 18, 2018 to add your words to this critical part of the process.


Please tune in to the Gullah/Geechee Riddim Radio coverage about the Reconstruction Era and the importance of your input in the progress of the Reconstruction Era National Monument:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gullahgeechee/2017/08/14/reconstruction-gullahgeechee-coast-land-legacy-and-justice-environmentally

 

Harriet Tubman Monument Ground Breaking Ceremony in the Gullah/Geechee Nation

May 30, 2017

Harriet Tubman Ground Breaking Ceremony

Tune in to the Gullah/Geechee TV (GGTV) historic ground breaking ceremony for the Harriet Tubman Monument which will be placed at the Tabernacle Baptist Church campus in Beaufort, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation:

Please make sure to make your contribution here:

www.harriettubmanmonument.com

www.gullahgeecheenation.com

Honoring de Ooman Souljah een de Gullah/Geechee Nation fa Decoration Day

May 29, 2017

In honor of Memorial Day which is “Decoration Day” in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation honors the legacy of Suzie King Taylor and Harriet Tubman who served at Camp Saxton in Port Royal on the island of Port Royal in South Carolina during the United States Civil War.

She addresses how Decoration Day began in Charleston, SC on May 1, 1865 as 10,000 Gullah/Geechees of which were 3000 children gathered at the site which is now Hampton Park to decorate the graves of Union soldiers.   On May 30, 1868, the celebration started to be done by soldiers for their fallen comrades at Arlington National Cemetary.  However, few people realize that this celebration was taking place for three years already and that as the commemoration grew, it became known as “Memorial Day.”

The fact that teachers and students were part of the initial Decoration Day would no doubt have warmed the heart of Suzie King Taylor who was an educator that had attended an illegal school for people of African descent as a child and grew up to run schools for her people even during the war.  Her story as the first Black nurse in the United States Army is rarely told just as the work of Harriet Tubman as a nurse and scout during the US Civil War is rarely told.  Queen Quet share these stories and how both will now be honored and memorialized in the Gullah/Geechee Nation on this edition of “Gullah/Geechee Riddim Radio.”  Tune een fa yeddi “Honoring de Ooman Souljah een de Gullah/Geechee Nation fa Decoration Day:” http://tobtr.com/s/10049725

www.gullahgeecheenation.com