“Gullah/Geechee: An Enduring Culture”


An exciting exhibit, “Gullah/Geechee: An Enduring Culture,” will be hosted by Savannah State University (SSU) as a part of its Black History Month celebration. The exhibit, which explores African roots of Gullah/Geechee people and culture in the Georgia and South Carolina low-country, will be presented in SSU’s Adams Hall beginning on February 16th and ending on March 1st. The exhibit was first presented in 2008 at the Macon Museum of Art & Sciences.

An opening program and reception will be held on Thursday, February 19th from 5:30-7:30 pm, also in Adams Hall. The program will be moderated by Jim Bacote, exhibit co-curator and cofounder of Geechee Kunda, a center for heritage preservation in Riceboro. The program will feature several presenters and performers who will highlight the history and continuing significance of the people and the culture which link the low-country to Africa. Presenters will include the Darien Geechee Shouters; spoken word artists Bilal Muhammad of St. Mary’s and Tariq Bey of Brunswick; Geechee storyteller Luciria Luckey of Hinesville; Greg Grant, Geechee herbalist and genealogist; and Herbert Jerome Dixon of Sapelo, described as “one of Georgia’s premier sweet-grass basket-makers.”

The exhibit is sponsored by a Savannah State project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to build a collaboration of Savannah-area museums dedicated to African American history and culture. Participating museums include the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum; Beach Institute African American Culture Center and the King-Tisdell Cottage; the First African Baptist Church Museum; the SSU Archives; the Dorchester Academy Museum in Midway; and the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center in Portal. The group conducts regular roundtables, professional development activities, and is developing exhibits and a regional conference.

Savannah State cosponsors include the Africana Studies Program; the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences; the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; and the Center for International Education. A special symposium in March will focus on building the research capacity of Savannah State and its collaborators that focus on low-country history and culture.

Generally speaking, “Gullah” and “Geechee” are words used to describe the descendants of Africans who were enslaved in Africa and imported during the Atlantic slave trade into Georgia and South Carolina. They were brought from West Africa, especially from the area stretching from what is now Senegal down to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Because of previous expertise growing rice, they worked mainly on rice plantations and later on cotton plantations in the lowcountry along the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the strength and resilience of the African cultures that was brought over and isolation on lowcountry plantations, a vibrant African American culture resulted and is known today as “Gullah” and “Geechee”. This culture includes significant African survivals in language, food preferences, religious practices, basket-weaving, and other areas of cultural/ artistic expression.

For additional details, call Gwen Falero in the SSU International Education Center at (912)353-4942 or contact Dr. Ronald Bailey, IMLS project director (baileyr@ savstate.edu).

Special reservations are available for groups of students from schools and community centers.

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