Yesterday was a celebration that I’ve been waiting for and we had the perfect sunshine and Sea Island breeze to top it off! I drove two hours from my home island to Bowens Island, SC and enjoyed the view as I sang my way northward along the South Carolina section of the Gullah/Geechee Nation! Between verses of songs, I reflected on the many rallies, signed petitions, letters written, trips to US Congress, and to the SC General Assembly. I thought about the thanks I got for my testimonies and I gave thanks for being able to stand up and speak for the Gullah/Geechee family.
As I traveled down the dirt road on Bowens Island all the way to the creek, I didn’t see another car until I got to the parking lot. I had to simply get up under a tree because the place was packed and there was no designated space for me. I was pleased when I saw that SC Representative JA Moore was also rushing from his car and getting up the ramp to the press conference that US Congressional Representative Joe Cunningham had invited us to attend. The last time I had seen JA was when we stood together to represent our people at Hands Across the Sand on Folly Beach. We continue to stand united against seismic gun testing and offshore drilling and his presence at the press conference was more evidence of this.
I made my way up the ramp with my cameras in hand and started documenting the moment. I decided to change angles by going through the space and coming around closer to the the elected officials. Once the environmental group representatives saw me there, they immediately told me to get on up there with the rest of them. So, that ended my chance to capture the images that I wanted to, but it didn’t end me capturing the significance of this moment in my mind and what this would mean for the future generations of those living in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
Time and time again, Representative Joe Cunningham, SC Governor McMaster, US presidential hopeful Mark Sanford, and numerous other Lowcountry representatives and mayors thanked Congressman Cunningham for successfully getting HR 1941 passed in the United States House of Representatives. The SC General Assembly members were commended for insuring that the infrastructure for offshore drilling would remain illegal to be placed along the South Carolina coast and they pledged to go back and strengthen the work they were able to do via provisios this year. Governor McMaster stated that he will also renew what he did on this issue next year since his provision supporting the banning of offshore drilling on the SC coast is for 1 year at a time.
Each of these men spoke about those that came before them and worked on this issue. They spoke of the work that led up to this moment of celebration and the fact that we got here due to #TeamSC.
This team came about because of the grassroots efforts of numerous groups that continue to stand together to #ProtectOurCoast and #StoptheDrill. They also wanted to insure that there is no loss to the $22.6 B tourism industry that comes to SC either. Two thirds of those funds get to the state via the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coastal area often referred to as “The Lowcountry.”
The Gullah/Geechee Nation is proud that this kind of diverse group of people have found an issue that has drawn us together to discuss the future on this land and to maintain the quality of life of the people that live here. I will continue my travels along and away from our coast as I prepare for the coming student walk outs and United Nations Conferences in support of the global work to combat climate change. While I reflect on yesterday and prepare for the coming week, I cannot forget the words about how Hurricane Dorian knocked the tops off of oil rigs neighboring the islands and cast oil all over the Bahamas which has caused an environmental crisis that compounds the human crisis that we see reports of daily. We haven’t yet had time to fully recover from this recent hurricane, but in the midst of recovery, we still have to work on issues like permanently banning offshore drilling and seismic gun testing diligently. So, I am calling on you to support this effort and be a part of #TeamSC with me no matter where in the world your address may be. We need you to contact US Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham and get them to be a part of the team from their own home state and tell them to also #ProtectOurCoast and #StoptheDrill.
I am looking forward to getting yet another celebration invitation from one of the senators saying that he, too, has passed legislation that protects this coast of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. In the meantime, I thank Representative Joe Cunningham for picking up the ball that Mark Sanford ran with and taking it to the finish line! The work to keep alive our culture along this coast continues and I will be traveling where I need to and sharing these issues and victories with you. Tenki Tenki ta GAWD fa de blessin wha dun cum tuh!
Queen Quet continues to tirelessly fight for the environment and has stood up against offshore drilling through two different US presidential administrations. She has been invited to testify on behalf of the ocean and against offshore drilling in Washington, DC before US Congress and in the SC General Assembly. Tune in to those historic moments via Gullah/Geechee TV (GGTV):