As one takes the journey southward in the Gullah/Geechee Nation whether by Interstate 95 or Highway 17-the Kings Highway, you will arrive at the southern most point of the Gullah/Geechee Nation not long after leaving out of Georgia. The first area that folks reach in Florida is the exit for Fernandina. Most that exit there are heading to the beach and resorts without realizing that they are passing through and over ourstory every mile of the way.
Folks tend to pass through Yulee and by the road to Nassauville without even being aware that they are within these communities that are part of the unincorporated area of Nassau County, FL. They have no idea that that they are in a place where these family roots have international connections to the Caribbean and the Sea Islands of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. They have no idea about what the families went through to build up these areas and how they are now fighting to hold on to their land and the institutions that they have poured the foundations for on this land.
My journey in this area began with me coming to American Beach and learning our ourstory and sharing it with others and it continued with following the tracks of Gullah Jack southward to Kingsley Plantation and then back northward to Charleston, SC. It would be years before I would stand on the lands of Nassauville and pour libations to honor those ancestors that had the vision to hold onto their heritage and to leave a legacy of land for their descendants. In the midst of those ceremonies, I learned more about ourstory in this place from the elders. I have been further blessed by these elders that have allowed me to document their story for the Gullah/Geechee Alkebulan Archive and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Committee of Northeast Florida. Mr. Albert was one of those elders that shared the story of his life with me on the day that we prepared to have another worship service “Celebrating the Roots of Our Heritage” at Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
This church became a part of the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The Mt. Olive Historical Society continues to maintain the building. However, it is GOD that maintains the presence of the Holy Spirit and the energy of our ancestors that is felt as soon as you touch the bricks to walk into the building.
May the Gullah/Geechee TV coverage of the “Celebrating the Roots of Our Heritage” bring you into this space and may you feel the power of GOD and shout wid wi! Disya da bout who webe-webe Gullah/Geechee anointed peepol!