In Part 1 of the “Gullah/Geechee Land & Legacy” series on Gullah/Geechee Riddim Radio, I laid the foundation for the land ownership amongst the Gullah/Geechees. A critical part of that land ownership was the meeting of over twenty Black/Gullah/Geechee ministers in Savannah, GA on January 12, 1865. One of these ministers was Charleston, SC native, James Porter. James Porter was a major part of the Georgia Equal Rights and Education Association and eventually became the Vice President of this association. He was a major proponent for public school education for people of African descent during the Reconstruction Era. He was able to accomplish this once he became a part of the Georgia Legislature.
Porter who had a background in music and also a physical disability never stood back or held back from fighting for the rights, education, and upliftment of his people. He in fact, put his all into advancing the civil rights of his people wherever he went.
The work of James Porter and the other ministers that met with Major-General William T. Sherman and Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton led to Sherman’s issuing Special Field Order 15. This field order is the document that was to provide a mechanism for the land grants and land division and distribution on and of the Sea Islands which are now part of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. Numerous Gullah/Geechee families still occupy and own these lands of the Sea Islands and the Carolina/Georgia Lowcountry and northeastern Florida. However, it is not without a great deal of effort to protect land rights and the human rights of the Gullah/Geechee people.
The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition has been in the forefront of the land rights education and advocacy for Gullah/Geechees since it began in 1996. The organization still supports the annual world tours to further educate people about the existence of Gullah/Geechee culture and to assist with raising funds for legal battles and land taxes while also supporting the work that goes on at the United Nations that will benefit Gullah/Geechees who are a national indigenous, linguistic, and ethnic minority of the United States in accordance with international law. Indigenous people have a right to not be displaced from their land and to control their land and resources of the land as well as to have institutions and programs that benefit their cultural continuation. All of these things require an understanding of the methods of cultural continuance that have been used within the community for generations on these miles of 40 acres sections. So, win hunnuh yeddi disya, hunnuh gwiine ustan why e da mo den 40 acre an a mule fa keep we Gullah/Geechee legacy pun de land. Tune een: