Engaging with Gullah/Geechee pun Hunnuh Journey
As many people make plans for the Memorial Day weekend and Sea Island summer journeys for their civic groups, family reunions, educational groups, and social clubs, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition helps them to link to authentic Gullah/Geechee culture via De Gullah Root Experience Tour and providing information on Gullah/Geechee owned and operated businesses and historic sites. Also, in the midst of all of the nationally advertised commercial festivals, they link their supporters to the events that are being held by the grassroots and traditional Gullah/Geechee people. St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation which is one of very few Sea Islands that still have contiguous Gullah/Geechee family compounds in which Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage is lived daily. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that St. Helena is the place wherein those visiting will be able to fully engage with native Gullah/Geechees and support them economically as they journey to the island.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Park Beautification Committee of historic St. Helena Island launched the new “St. Helena Community Market” in March of 2016. This market operates from 10 am to 1 pm on the final Saturday of each month.
During Memorial Day weekend, visitors to the market will be able to obtain Gullah/Geechee hand made quilts, preserves, history books, CDs, DVDs, and more from De Gullah/Geechee Store where Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) will be on hand to do autographs and to educate people about Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Park is located at the intersection of Sea Island Parkway/Highway 21 and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on historic St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. Just across from the park are two Gullah/Geechee owned establishments, Gullah Grub and the Island Grill. Not only will these be locations that the visitors can go into for food and drinks, they will also be able to support the work to renovate and reopen the historic Knights of Wise Men Hall for the members of the St. Helena Lodge #4. They frequently host Saturday dinner sales at the building which is adjacent to the park.
St. Helena Lodge #4 members stand proudly with Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) who is a native of St. Helena Island like they are. They are restoring the historic Knights of Wise Men Hall which is on the National Register of Historic Places for their members to use as their lodge.
After supporting the activities in the Corners Community of St. Helena Island, folks should continue on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive through the Penn Center National Landmark Historic District and purchase Gullah/Geechee items at the welcome center there the proceed to the landmark St. Helena Branch Library on Jonathan Francis Road:
The St. Helena Branch Library will be hosting various Gullah/Geechee history exhibits throughout the summer. There is a wide range of activities that take place at the library monthly including “De Gullah/Geechee Living History Series” which is sponsored by the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition which partners with the Friends of the Beaufort County Libraries and the St. Helena Branch Library. The Friends of Fort Fremont recently unveiled a number of historic dioramas that are housed in the library. These and the Gullah/Geechee Room cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
After touring the St. Helena Branch Library and going to Gullah/Geechee owned stores like Seaside Mini-Market on Seaside Road for some traditional sliced meats, snacks, and down home conversation, the journey can continue on Sea Island Parkway/Highway 21. Visitors can purchase sweetgrass baskets at a family stand and fresh seafood from Bradley Seafood just down the road from the sweetgrass stand. The day can be concluded with supper or dessert at the Gullah/Geechee owned and operated MJ’s Soul Food on Sea Island Parkway which is on the way to Hunting Island State Park.
Hunting Island State Park is the site of the Gullah/Geechee Seafood Festival which is held during even numbered years. The event will take place at the Hunting Island Nature Center on Saturday, October 22, 2016.
So, after the journey to and through St. Helena Island and this opportunity to engage in Gullah/Geechee culture and yeddi a lil bit bout who da and nyam pun a lil bit a wha we da nyam pun, hunnuh kin cum bak fa jayn we! Hunnuh caan do um all juss one time pun de St. Helena Island Gullah/Geechee journey!
If you are bringing a group of seven or more people to historic St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, consider taking De Gullah Root Experience Tour in order to get more extensive immersion into Gullah/Geechee language, history, and cultural heritage traditions. Gwine ta www.gullahgeechee.us or email GullGeeCo@aol.com.
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