Posts Tagged ‘Civil War’

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

Remembering Harriet Tubman’s Raid on the Combahee @GullahGeechee

June 2, 2016

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

Woke up dis mawnin wid my mind, stayed pun freedum! is ringing in my soul today because that is what my spirit has been moving to since I awakened.  I rose early in order to finish my work online and proceed out to my work in the field.  I also didn’t want to miss the meeting of the Friends of Fort Fremont because this particular fort has been a space that I connected to when my family first told me that we had a fort on my home island of St. Helena.  Not long after that, I worked with someone who was then a journalist in Beaufort County, SC to bring enlightenment and awareness to this historic treasure that was beneath graffiti and vines at the island’s end.  Given that the fort had not been active in ages, destructioneers had set their eyes on the area that encompassed it and wanted to subdivide it into lots and create a planned unit development.  So, we needed to act to insure that this place and space was remembered, restored, and not demolished.  The county heard the firing off of the letters and emails and the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Board purchased this historic space for everyone to learn from and enjoy.

The Friends of Fort Fremont have now assembled to build an interpretive center at the location of the fort.  I listened closely to every word of its story on this historic date that tends to unfortunately go by without the history  of it being told much less having it interpreted at historic spaces and placed on kiosk for others to be aware of.  June 2nd is the date that Mama Moses Harriet Ross Tubman also known as “General Tubman” worked shoulder to shoulder with Colonel Montgomery as they led the “Combahee River Raid” just up the road a piece and along the waters that now flow under the only bridge in the world named in her honor.

I thought about the many awards that I have been presented with bearing Harriet Tubman’s name and image.  I remembered when I first uncovered the records of her living in the City of Beaufort, SC and having a laundry co-op and a bakery.  I remember when it appeared that no one else knew or took much interest in this aspect of Beaufort history, but me.  I remember being a re-enactor in the parade in Beaufort and I walked as Harriet Tubman along side two men who were there to portray Nathaniel Heyward and Gullah Statesman Robert Smalls.  We ended the parade teaching the children at Beaufort Elementary who each of these people were and their significance to our county and to the history of America.  I remember going home each of those times with songs in my soul.

3345f3491e324332d7428527f0e90d86As I continued to work with other historians around the country to get the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom established, we continued to discuss the strength and multifaceted roles of Harriet Tubman and how these have been down played and ignored.  We would no longer allow her significance to be ignored!  So, we pushed on as she would have done and finally we got the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom established and proceeded with getting her recognized nationally via the Harriet Tubman Study as well.  The study now gave us a chance to revisit all that I had uncovered before and to bring it to the table with the records of her work in Maryland and New York.

As more and more pages were amassed about this powerful woman, amongst these were the records of what took place on June 2, 1863.  On this date, Harriet Tubman became the first woman to plan and guide a significant armed raid during the United States Civil War. Harriet Tubman and the 2nd Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry which was an all Black regiment that contained many native Gullah/Geechees destroyed millions of dollars worth of Confederate supplies and freed close to 800 people from bondage in the rice fields along the river which divides Beaufort and Colleton Counties today.

According to the dispatch which appeared on the front page of a Boston newspaper called, The Commonwealth on Friday, July 10, 1863:

Col. Montgomery and his gallant band of 300 black soldiers, under the guidance of a black woman, dashed into the enemy’s country, struck a bold and effective blow, destroying millions of dollars worth of commissary stores, cotton and lordly dwellings, and striking terror into the heart of rebeldom, brought off near 800 slaves and thousands of dollars worth of property, without losing a man or receiving a scratch. It was a glorious consummation. 

After they were all fairly well disposed of in the Beaufort charge, they were addressed in strains of thrilling eloquence by their gallant deliverer, to which they responded in a song. “There is a white robe for thee,” a song so appropriate and so heartfelt and cordial as to bring unbidden tears. 

The Colonel was followed by a speech from the black woman, who led the raid and under whose inspiration it was originated and conducted. For sound sense and real native eloquence, her address would do honor to any man, and it created a great sensation… 

Since the rebellion she had devoted herself to her great work of delivering the bondman, with an energy and sagacity that cannot be exceeded. Many and many times she has penetrated the enemy’s lines and discovered their situation and condition, and escaped without injury, but not without extreme hazard.

Mama Moses Harriet Tubman surveyed the area herself as she was known to do as the true scout that she was.  She was willing to lead the 150 “Negro troops” in the raid as long as Colonel Montgomery was in charge of it.  According to “Scenes in  the Life of Harriet Tubman” (p. 39.):

The Combahee strategy was formulated by Harriet Tubman as an outcome of her penetrations of the enemy lines and her belief that the Combahee River countryside was ripe for a successful invasion.  She was asked by General Hunter “if she would go with several gunboats up the Combahee River, the object of the expedition being to take up the torpedoes placed by the rebels in the river, to destroy railroads and bridges, and to cut off supplies from the rebel troops. She said she would go if Col. Montgomery was to be appointed commander of the expedition…Accordingly, Col. Montgomery was appointed to the command, and Harriet, with several men under her, the principal of whom was J. Plowden…accompanied the expedition.”

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The success that this united force had together turned the tide of the Civil War and allowed Harriet Tubman and the troops to return to Beaufort County, SC.  Although they never provided her an appropriate military title after this, we could easily call her “Colonel Tubman” since that was the leading role that she played in this triumphant journey up the river.   Accounts of that day even state that she also made her way to her station at my home island of St. Helena.  So, it is not surprising that the flow of the tide onto St. Helena’s shores awoke me this morning with songs of freedom in my mind just as Colonel Mama Moses Harriet Tubman sang a song of freedom upon the Combahee.  I pray that these sounds from our souls get into the hearts and the minds of others.  Not another day should sail by without the story of her outstanding role as a soldier that went to the front lines for the freedom of our people-of Gullah/Geechee people-is told!  Like the fort, Harriet Tubman’s story still stands strong and the songs of freedom flow on!

Tenki Tenki Colonel Mama Moses Harriet Ross Tubman!


Tune in to the Gullah/Geechee TV coverage of the celebration in honor of 150 years after the Combahee River Raid:

BDC hosts Civil War Talk – April 13

April 12, 2016

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De Gullah/Geechee International Story in Charleston From Reconstruction to Construction

March 7, 2016

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

The first time that I met Ms. Dolly Nash, the great granddaughter of Gullah Statesman Robert Smalls, I had no idea the many years that we would stand together telling ourstory. However, I do remember when she called me and asked me to come to the Robert Smalls’ house for the family reunion to present to the family the Gullah/Geechee history of Beaufort, SC which her great grandpa had written so many pages of simply by living to stand for our freedom as he did.

For years and years to come, Ms. Dolly would come to Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition events and to festivals and other presentations where I would be presenting.  She would commend me and teach me during our conversations.  Her energy was always embracing-embracing me and embracing our historical legacy.

I could again feel Ms. Dolly’s embrace in all of its sincerity when I went to the Robert Smalls Weekend in Charleston to be a part of witnessing this historic moment in which he would FINALLY get the historical marker that he deserved along the harbor where he toiled and also where he liberated himself from by taking “The Planter” from the Confederate waters during the US Civil War and piloting the vessel to Beaufort County which was his birthplace.  He then turned it over to the Union and was able to return home to his family.

The story of his journey home was told to me many times.  As a result of this, I feel like I can see him whenever I look out across the Beaufort River.  I KNOW why our Gullah/Geechee ancestors elected him to represent them in the Reconstruction Congress!  Yes, they believed in his abilities and that he would truly serve his community.

I knew that that weekend stood as a testimony to how Ms. Dolly and others in the Robert Smalls Family had served our community by continuing to keep the legacy of Robert Smalls alive by speaking his name and teaching his story.   So, I wanted to be there to support the honoring that was rightfully due and to stand with the family again as well.

As I prepared to shoot the proceedings for Gullah/Geechee TV, I recognized a gentleman who also immediately recognized me.  It was Michael Moore who is the great great grandson of Robert Smalls!  We smiled and embraced and I could just feel Ms. Dolly there with us smiling!

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Michael Moore, great great grandson of Gullah Statesman Robert Smalls and Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and International African American Museum Founding Board Member stand united in Charleston, SC.

A few minutes later, Brother Moore reintroduced his children to me and he reminded them that I was the person that had been at the house and spoken to them in Gullah many years before.  I smiled again because in that moment I knew that he not only recognized me, he truly REMEMBERED me!  That was a blessing!

We sat near the Septima P. Clark fountain in Liberty Square.  I had been here for the unveiling of the gate that had been created by Phillip Simmons and of the fountain and looked forward to hearing the words spoken as the new manuscript about Robert Smalls was unveiled that day and a marker soon would be as well.   As we chatted in this place and space of remembering, I felt at peace.

I have walked along this area and sat along the harbor numerous times especially over the decade that we have held the “Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™” a short walk away at the Charleston Maritime Center.  The center and the plot where the International African American Museum (IAAM) will go are just down the harbor from where we were standing recalling our past connection.   I had no idea that the day would come when we would not just look into the past, but also look to the future together.  However, that time has now come given that Brother Michael Moore is now the first president and CEO of IAAM which I have served on the steering committee, founding board, and speakers bureau for.

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The first thing that Brother Moore did was to speak on the importance of the location where we host our Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™ every even numbered year-Gadsden’s Wharf.   This place of disembarkation after being brought from Sullivan’s Island to the peninsula of Charles Town was where thousands of Africans arrived during the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and were subsequently placed on auction blocks to be sold.

Brother Moore’s words truly capture the essence of why many of us have supported the building of IAAM along this harbor in Charleston all of these years.  He stated, “History is a really really powerful thing. It serves to frame a people. It helps to identify who they are. It helps to even position where they are going.”  As we would say to that, “Ef hunnuh ain kno whey hunnuh dey frum, hunnuh ain gwine no whey hunnuh da gwine.”  We are sure that IAAM will frame the stories that folks had long attempted to bury beneath the cobble stones and place them where they can be clearly seen so that they can help to position us all go go in a better direction together.

It is truly interesting the direction that I and the Smalls Family have been going together for decades.  It is powerful to have Robert Smalls’ descendant stand in a place over 150 years after Reconstruction and plan for the construction of the International African American Museum (IAAM).  IAAM is expected to open in 2018 which will be 150 years after Robert Smalls was a member of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention and was elected to the state house of representatives.

It appears that Robert Smalls’ spirit is still at work in the SC legislator given that the general assembly has agreed to provide $25 million of the $75 million that we are raising to complete IAAM.  They have already given $10 million and the City and County of Charleston have already agreed to contribute $25 million.   The new president and CEO of IAAM is now tasked to raise the remaining third of the overall budget.  He definitely has my continued support in assisting with this fundraising effort which we have had underway for several years now.  Thus far, private donations have come to $3 million.  So, in order to keep this project as smoothly sailing as Captain Robert Smalls did with “The Planter,” I would call on everyone to contribute to this long needed space that will honor the journey of our many African and Gullah/Geechee ancestors and will celebrate the legacy of all that they contributed not only to Charleston, but to the world.  To make a donation, simply go to www.iaamuseum.org.

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I look forward to you standing with us in this sacred space and embracing the historical legacy along this shore just as I AM!

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Fa yeddi mo bout de International African American Museum (IAAM), gwine ta disya:

http://gullahgeecheenation.com/2012/12/18/international-african-american-museum-iaam-an-institution-of-living-legacy/

Mek sho fa falla @iaamuseum!

Civil War Sites in upper Beaufort District

January 29, 2015

The Hampton County Historical Society and the Jasper County Historical Society are co-sponsoring a tour of Gen. Sherman’s March historic sites on Sat., March 14.  The flyer has all the details.

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