Gullah/Geechee Souls and Sea Island Cotton

I can easily hear the voices saying, “What kinda cotton pickin’ thing is this?” as they see the images of me in the short rows of cotton during “Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Awareness Month.”  However, just as the stock market does, I value Sea Island cotton. I value it because of the blood, sweat, and tears that helped nourish it at its roots here in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  As I walked the grounds of McLeod Plantation on James Island, SC, I could feel the ancestral energies welcoming me back once again.  I felt them walk us into the the yard where I had poured libations as the sun rose and GAWD smile pun we one mawnin.  Hunnuh coulda feel um yonda uneat de oak een de shade.

We walked on as the staff of McLeod chatted with me about this first “Cotton Day” that they ever held.  Sea Island cotton had not been grown here for nearly a century.   They were so happy to see me back on the grounds once again. For years I put was a “Friend of McLeod” that fought to save this sacred historic space so that generations of people could come and see the big house and cabins that our ancestors built and to hear ourstory at a place that became a part of the “Freedmen’s Bureau.”  As I listened to them, I continued to do as I always do as I walk these grounds, I tuned in with my soul.   I could feel how my ancestors wanted people to know that what they are seeing is not the way it was.  There weren’t any Gullah/Geechees standing out there in the field now.  In fact, there weren’t any people of African descent.   There weren’t any until I got there and brought the thousands of my ancestors back in there with me.

As I listened to what was taking place in this demonstration patch, I was led straight over to a particular plant and a staff member was shocked to see that the one that I first pointed to actually had four points and not three like the other boils had.  He said, “That’s like finding a four leaf clover!”  I nodded because I had found several of those in the past and in fact had found two at one time together in a park decades ago.  I took this four pointed Sea Island cotton boil as a good sign!  As I reached for it, I felt a touch at that moment like an ancestor patted me and walked on.

Queen Quet with Sea Island Cotton on James Island, SC

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) holds the first Sea Island cotton boil found with four points on the boil during “Cotton Day” at McLeod on James Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

As we walked out of the cotton field and over to the indigo dying area, I kept looking at the magnitude of what my Gullah/Geechee ancestors built and how there are so many that do not value all that they brought to the world, especially this part that was once called the “New World.”   I pray that a new world emerges and restores into the minds of folks the true story of the legacy of people of African descent that built not only the infrastructure of the United States, but that of the entire Gullah/Geechee Nation from brick to brick to the tabby structures, from enslavement cabins to the big houses and are still building the buildings that are threatening to displace more people today.  I pray that they recognize the valuable commodity that the intellectual property of our Gullah/Geechee ancestors was and how it was exploited for others to live well.  I pray that they realize that we will not live and be well until we embrace the totality of ourstory as Gullah/Geechee souls that were even more valuable on the markets of others than the cotton was.  So, if cotton was once king, wha hunnuh tink webe?   Aaah, hunnuh chillun, webe Gullah/Geechee anointed Black gold!   May we also rise from the soil and tell ourstory!

 

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