Gullah/Geechee Gwines On Fa 2018

Tenk GAWD fa 2018!   Tenk GAWD fa de #GullahGeechee!

As each year begins in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, people rise from praying together in order to head to fellowship with their families over some Hoppin John and greens.  After a few hours of rest, many proceed to celebrations of Emancipation given that the Emancipation Proclamation was first read at Port Royal, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  In honor of our ancestors that were there at the oak tree that day to hear this proclamation from the president, we continue to gather in honor of the freedom that it brought and that we still fight to maintain.

The Emancipation Proclamation did not provide freedom for all people nor did the numerous civil rights acts that had been done previously.  So, an entire movement had to arise for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to become law.  Numerous Gullah/Geechees participated in planning meetings, sit ins, and marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Johns Island in Charleston County, SC and St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation were both major meeting locations for these groups.  Dr. Martin L. King Jr. used to stay in the homes of numerous families on St. Helena Island.  Penn Center was the meeting location for him and where he announced the “Poor People’s Campaign.”  He spent a few nights at Gantt Cottage, but the King Cottage at that site was not completed until one month after he passed away.   In order to insure that the work that Dr. King began did not pass away with him, numerous organizations continued to fight for civil rights.  Each year many of those organizations and churches throughout the region host Dr. Martin L. King Day observances, luncheons, banquets, and parades.

Many people are unaware of these historic events that took place between Jacksonville, NC and Jacksonville, FL in the Gullah/Geechee Nation given that more oft than not, mainstream newspapers refused to write about what Black people were doing especially if it had to do with obtaining freedom.  Unfortunately, that has truly not changed.  So, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), began publishing “The Journal of Negro History” and the celebration of “Black History Week” (which has evolved into “Black History Month”) in order to elevate the history of the accomplishments of Black people.

ASALH honored both Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and Dr. Najmah Thomas as “Living Legends.”   Both of these women are natives of St. Helena Island, SC.  They continue to partner on numerous activities to elevate the stories of the Gullah/Geechee community.

Queen Quet founded the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition 21 years ago.  Since its founding, the organization has partnered with numerous institutions around the world.  One such institution that they fought for and that is a sister center to their Gullah/Geechee Alkebulan Archive is the St. Helena Branch Library.   The St. Helena Branch Library will celebrate the legacy of achievements throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation by hosting “Gullahs of Achievement” on February 20th at 6 pm in celebration of Black History/African Heritage MonthGullahs of Achievement

Every day of Black History/African Heritage Month there are celebrations throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation and there are special events in other parts of the United States focused on Gullah/Geechee culture as well.  To keep up with those that will accurately celebrate the cultural heritage of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, follow @GullahGeechee on Twitter and the Gullah/Geechee Nation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GullahGeecheeWebe.

The Gullah/Geechee Nation does not stop honoring the legacy of their people at the conclusion of February.  In fact, there are festivals and celebrations every month of the year.   March is Women’s Herstory Month and Gullah/Geechee Volunteer Month. Once again, there are numerous events throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation that take place including the reopening of the St. Helena Island Community Market which encourages the support of economic empowerment and self-sufficiency in the community.

If you are interested in bringing your group or organization to be a part of community service and transformational learning opportunities in the Gullah/Geechee Nation during Gullah/Geechee Volunteer Month, email the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition at GullGeeCo@aol.com.   The majority of the groups work on projects on historic St. Helena Island, SC, but there are also projects in Charleston and other areas being coordinated as well.

March is also an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of the land that is still owned by people of African descent.  In order to assist with continued land ownership and reclamation, the second Black Folks Land Legacy Conference will be held on historic St. Helena Island, SC.  For registration information go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/black-folks-land-legacy-conference-2018-gullahgeechee-to-seminole-transnational-identity-tickets-41537819737.

Black Folks Land Legacy Conference 2018

Threats to land ownership not only come through identifying heirs and identity, but also due to environmental impacts.  The Gullah/Geechee Nation has gone through a number of storms over the years.  This coupled with the on-going sea level rise and other climate change impacts are consistently of concern.  In order to help community members better prepare for these things, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition will host the “Gullah/Geechee Preparing for Storms and Emergencies Workshop” along with the St. Helena Branch Library and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on March 13th.  Advance registration is required at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gullahgeechee-preparing-for-storms-and-emergencies-workshop-tickets-41537658254 for this workshop specifically addressing the needs of Gullah/Geechee families.

April is the time that numerous Gullah/Geechees have already planted for the coming harvest season.  In celebration of this, the Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival will take place on historic St. Helena Island, SC on the first Saturday in April at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.  The admission is free.  However, numerous Gullah/Geechee rice dishes coupled with fish and chicken delicacies will be on sale.  Music will be provided by All Mobile Productions™ (AMP™) and there will be exhibits and presentations on the Gullah/Geechee Carolina gold rice legacy.

Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival 2018

The Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank will also host the annual Coastal Cultures Conference on St. Helena Island, SC.   Please go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coastal-cultures-conference-2018-emergency-preparedness-and-cultural-continuation-in-coastal-tickets-41538499771 for registration information.

Coastal Cultures Conference 2018

May will begin with the 2nd “Gullah/Geechee Bike & Beauty” event in celebration of Black bikers on the first Saturday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

Gullah/Geechee Bike & Beauty 2018

 

It will end with the Gullah Festival weekend which will include the “Lowcountry Dinner Theater” at Tabernacle Baptist Church which is a fundraiser for the Harriet Tubman Statue which will be erected at the church’s campus in Beaufort, SC.

June is when we commemorate the Combahee River Raid which was led by Harriet Tubman.  In honor of this and to celebrate the opening of the new “Mather School Museum and Interpretive Center,” The Realities of Reconstruction Conference will be held at this location and will conclude at the Combahee River on the Sunday.

Registration for the Realities of Reconstruction Conference can be done at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/realities-of-reconstruction-conference-tickets-41538624143

Realities of Reconstruction Conference

 

We never miss the opportunity to celebrate “Black Music Month,” so not only will songs be a part of the “Realities of Reconstruction Conference,” the Saturday evening of the conference will conclude with the Juke Joint Jam at MJ’s which will allow conference participants to come to historic St. Helena Island and have a party with a purpose with native Gullah/Geechees.

Juke Joint Jam at MJ's Soul Food June 2018

The sounds of freedom will continue that month as Juneteenth events take place throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation including the annual Juneteenth at the Jepson which will take place on the second Saturday in June in Savannah, GA.   All of the other events will take place on the following week.

July is not only a time of numerous family reunions, it is also the time of celebration for the anniversary of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and Queen Quet‘s enstoolment.  Queen Quet was enstooled on July 2nd.  So, this is an official day of celebration each year.

For many years, the Wisdom Circle Council of Elders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation led the Gullah/Geechee Reunion at Sullivan’s Island on July 2nd to commemorate the day that their nation was declared.  However, they have grown to celebrate Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week beginning on the final Saturday in July and culminating with the Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™. Now, the Saturday of the festival is Gullah/Geechee Reunion Day annually.  The week is launched with Gullah/Geechee Famlee Day each year.

Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival 2018

The “Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™” is a three day celebration of authentic Gullah/Geechee culture.  It is held in Charleston, SC on even numbered years and moves to other parts of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the African Diaspora on odd numbered years.  So, this year, the event will take place August 3-5 in Charleston, SC.  The event provides and opportunity to learn the true history and living ways of native Gullah/Geechees because all organizers and presenters are natives of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

September is time for the Woodland’s Club River Fest on St. Helena Island and for numerous Labor Day parades.  It is also the time of the Pin Point Seafood Festival. The month concludes with the opening of the Moja Arts Celebration in Charleston, SC.

The Moja Arts Celebration continues until the first weekend of October.  Sapelo Island Cultural Day takes place on the third Saturday.   At the end of October, the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association host the Gullah/Geechee Seafood Festival.

Gullah/Geechee Seafood Festival 2018

November is time for the Heritage Days Celebration in SC and the Riceboro Rice Festival in GA on the second weekend of the month.

December is time to celebrate Gullah Night Pun Disya Islandt and the Community Kwanzaa at the St. Helena Branch Library.  It is also time for the anniversary of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition which members celebrate in different ways annually including participating in the aforementioned events with the St. Helena Gullah/Geechee family since the coalition began its Hunnuh Home Gullah/Geechee Research Center on the island.

Each month the Gullah/Geechee ezine, De Conch provides details on the coming events throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation and updates on the events that have already taken place.  You can find De Conch online and read it there, download it, and share it at https://issuu.com/gullahgeecheenation.

In addition to De Conch, following www.GullahGeecheeNation.com will also keep you current on events and historical information in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  Cuz as hunnuh kin see, de gwine on een de Gullah/Geechee Nation ain da lil lil, e da plenee!

See hunnuh een de Gullah/Geechee Nation disya year!

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