The Gullah Culture Symposium, sponsored by AAHGS, enthralled, educated, and entertained all who attended. The event was held at the National Archives at Atlanta on 18 February 2012.
According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, rice, cotton, and indigo were cultivated by enslaved workers from specific areas of West Africa such as Sierra Leone. Experienced in growing rice, the slaves were dropped at the Sea Islands off the eastern seaboard. Due to the harsh terrain and climate, they worked and lived in isolation. The Gullah and Geechee retained much of their own culture, language, and spirituality.
“Say it loud! I’m Geeche and I’m Proud!” presented by Dr. Mary B. Zeigler educated and updated the audience on the restoration project of the Geechee and Gullah Linguistic Heritage and Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society, Inc. (SICARS). In 2006, congress designated the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor which extends from Wilmington, N.C. in the north to Jacksonville, Fl. in the south.The Geechee Kunda in Riceboro, GA offers interactive learning for the whole family. Dr. Zeigler reminds all families that healthy roots (heritage) develop healthy trees (families) that produce healthy branches (next generation). Remember the Gullah Proverb “Mustek cyear a de root fa heal de tree” (You need to take care of the root in order to heal the tree).
“Death and Dying in Gullah Culture” presented by Dr. D. L. Henderson demystified the beliefs and practices regarding death and dying by relating that death is a rite of passage not to be feared. Studying cultural practices and beliefs increases how we perceive and interpret our cultural heritage.
18 February until 14 April 2012 – “The Artifacts of Enslavement: The Shackles and Other Objects of Slavery” – an excellent display of authenticated African American artifacts provided by Denise White Fields, Founder/Curator, of “From Africa to Eternity” will be on exhibit at the National Archives at Atlanta, 5780 Jonesboro Rd, Morrow, GA 30260.
The Geechee Gullah Shouters and Jackie Mikel-Odem concluded the symposium with over an hour of music (shouting) and storytelling. Words cannot describe the informative and entertaining features of their presentations. How did Adam get his apple? Please take time to view the web.
For information on the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society write P.O. Box 54131, Atlanta, GA 30308, call 404-48-AAHGS, or e-mail. The group generally meets the fourth Sunday of the month.
18-19 May 2012 – Witness the Wonders of Gullah Culture, A Cultural Adventure to Charleston, S.C. & the Sea Islands, for tour information and registration contact Royal Retreats & Tours, P.O. Box 463, Atlanta, GA 30291, 404-763-9886, e-mail the Island Heritage Foundation.