I have been blessed to have been interviewed by hundreds of journalists, bloggers, and documentary filmmakers from different parts of the world. I have had fashions from my company grace the pages of Essence and Black Enterprise and I have had the opportunity to be featured on centerfolds, back covers, and covers of magazines and major newspapers. When I look back over each story from blogs, to newsletters, student newspapers, to international publications and broadcasts, I reflect on how special each was. The ones that I treasure the most are those that were done right at home in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. So, as I wind down from the Women’s Herstory and Black Women’s Herstory Month celebrations on Gullah/Geechee TV and Gullah/Geechee Riddim Radio, my mind has gone to thinking about the beautiful and powerful media mavens in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
One of the first TV news anchors from my broadcast area that I had the honor of meeting was WSAV’s Tina Tyus-Shaw. I will never forget her grace and her smile as we walked and talked about who I was for a promo for the Jefferson Award which she presented me with at an outstanding banquet on Hutchinson Island in Georgia. In 2020, Sister Tina was presented with the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award which recognizes those who have given stellar service to her home state. After her 33 years of outstanding reporting, especially in regard to health and human interest, the honor was well deserved.
Sister Tina is the face we get to see in the evening after we see the face of Savannah’s own, Kim Gusby in the morning on WSAV. I remember the morning that I entered the chilly studio with Dr. Amir Jamal Toure to finally meet Sister Kim in person. Her smile radiated the same way that it does on TV and as Dr. Toure gave up information on their school days, her laughter was even more warm and was no doubt the reason that I stopped feeling the chill of the studio.
Anchorwoman Gusby is a National Association of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Southeast Silver Circle Society Inductee. She has won Edward R. Murrow awards for Best Documentary/Special Programming and the Best Feature Reporting award from the Associated Press. Savannah State University’s Southern Press Institute presented her with the Louis R. Lautier Award for Career Achievement and she’s received the Beverly Whitehead Award for her volunteer work with the youth. The latter has to be what keeps her so vibrant!
Another person that continues to be vibrant is TV and radio personality, Tessa Spencer of Charleston, SC. I first met her when she was on the “Breakfuss Club” with Baby J. I have watched her smoothly move from behind the radio microphone to in front of the TV camera. Over a decade ago, she was the first reporter to do a special feature about me as Queen of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. It was one of the best features about me that I have seen to-date.
The last time that I saw Sister Tessa, we stood proudly together in Charleston to welcome the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to the Holy City.
Sister Tessa was homegrown in Charleston, SC. She graduated from Bishop England High School and received her B.A. degree in Mass Communications from Baptist College at Charleston (now Charleston Southern University). Her broadcasting career spans 30 years and took her to several states. She returned home in 1999 and has earned numerous awards and recognitions for the outstanding reporting she has done here in the Lowcountry.
Another one of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s own also has garnered her fair share of awards. Carolyn Murray, who now has her own podcast, is a graduate of Burke High School in Charleston. Sister Carolyn started her journalism career in Charleston in 1988 as the news and public affairs director at Gullah/Geechee owned, WPAL-AM. One year later, she moved from the radio to in front of the camera and has been there ever since. She spent some time on local news in Charleston and then traveled to other media markets only to have the “saltwater that runs through her veins” bring her right on back to her roots in Charleston.
Carolyn has earned many journalism awards for anchoring and reporting. She was awarded the Southeast Region Emmys in 2000, 2016, and 2020 for anchoring and reporting, as well as numerous awards from the South Carolina Broadcasters Association and South Carolina Associated Press for anchoring and reporting during her during her 30-year broadcasting career. The Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s citizens are thankful that she is staying fit and not joining another SiStar of TV, Rita Scott, former general manager of WCSC-TV, in retiring any time soon.
As the internet continues to be even more of a wider web than the world wide web was when I first met these SiStars, I am thankful for De Gullah/Geechee Alkebulan Archive where we have been able to keep digital copies and videos of many of their reports. Our vertical files and numerous archival boxes contain print articles from Representative Glenda Simmons-Jenkins of Plumcake Enterprises who is now a freelance news reporter. Before branching out on her own, this Florida native and Gullah/Geechee Nation leader, garnered five first place awards for reporting including the Gwen Stevenson Memorial Award. She also received awards in community history, serious editorial, religious writing, obituary, in-depth news reporting, news-story and news photo categories. I have truly enjoyed the times that I have managed to get her to put down a journal, pen, and camera and got her in front of my camera to talk about continuing the Gullah/Geechee legacy in northeastern Florida through the work of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Committee of Northeast Florida which she is one of the founding members of.
Representative Simmons-Jenkins is not the only Gullah/Geechee Nation leader and journalist that keeps a camera at the ready. Elder Lesa Wineglass-Smalls, board member of the Gullah/Geechee Angel Network, generally has a videocamera in one hand and a tripod in the other. Occasionally, she will trade them out for a still camera like what Representative Simmons-Jenkins shoots with better than folks did with pistols in the old westerns. Over the years, she has evolved into a one woman or should I say, “ooman” reporting team. She sets up the camera, the microphone, and then gets you all set for the questions that she wants highlighted on the evening news.
There have been some very special times when I have had the opportunity of not only spending time seeing Elder Wineglass-Smalls reporting, but getting to dance to the music being spun by one of our Gullah/Geechee radio personalities, Shiela “Savannah” Johnson at the same time. SiStar Savannah is Assistant Program Director for Star 99.7. She was recognized for her outstanding broadcast career and community outreach by the South Carolina House of Representatives with a proclamation in 2012. Before and since then, she has kept us all dancing at numerous concerts and community events.
I thought we would be remissed if Black Herstory Month came to a close without sounding the drums and truly honoring these outstanding media mavens of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. We celebrate every honor that each one of them receives and we thank them for the care with which they present our stories. GAWD bless up all dees ya SiStars fa tru! We appreciate each and every one of you and all that you do to make sure that the world knows of ourstory. Hunnuh da bless up allawe! Keep shining brightly!