More than 20 representatives gathered at Midway’s Dorchester Academy last week to discuss preservation and cultural reclamation during the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission’s fall meeting.
Comprised of representatives from Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, the commission was designated by Congress in September 2006 to recognize the cultural contributions of the Gullah/Geechee people, descendants of Africans brought to the Southeast as slaves.
At the beginning of the meeting, South Carolina Commissioner J. Herman Blake gave background information on the Gullah/Geechee.
“Our goal is to try and share with the general public as much as possible some perspectives on the Gullah culture,” he said. “We can’t go into the future without continuing to revere and honor the past.”
Since 2008, the group has been creating a management plan for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to use in preserving the culture’s language, artifacts, folklore, crafts and land.
South Carolina Commissioner Ronald Daise, who starred in the 1990s Nickelodeon television show “Gullah Gullah Island,” updated the group on the plan’s progress.
Between now and January, the commission will make final revisions to the plan and submit it to the National Park Service’s Denver Service Center for review, Daise said. The DSC will release the plan for a 30-day public comment period between January and March.
When introducing the Gullah/Geechee culture, Blake spoke about the traits that West Africans brought with them to America, explaining that they came with a sense of small-scale political organization and a tendency toward gender equity.
They were experienced in farming, fishing and hunting and skilled at cotton and rice production, he said.
“Those Africans, who came here from many different parts of Africa with many of the roots we have described … went through a severe trial,” Blake said. “I don’t think the literature or any of our understandings can really articulate the seriousness of that severe trial or any of its consequences.”
Read more in the Nov. 16 edition of the News.