By Judy P. Crawford
The Beaufort High School (BHS) and Battery Creek High School (BCHS) Class of 1974 celebrated their combined 40th year class reunion this past Thanksgiving weekend. The Class of 1974 discovered that class was not out after having their minds infused with the rich ancestral culture and history of Beaufort Country during a tour of the Lowcountry, one of the class reunion events conducted by Anita Singleton-Prather of the Gullah Traveling Theater.
The tour of the Lowcountry kicked off on Saturday, November 29 at noon with approximately 50 Class of 1974 Eagles and Dolphins all aboard and headed North on Highway 21 toward the Harriet Tubman Bridge, located off U.S. Highway 17 across the Combahee River.
During the tour, Singleton-Prather with her unique communicative style, enlightened and intrigued the attendees by informing them about Beaufort County history. Many attendees said they never knew that so many civil rights leaders, historic sites and monuments existed in the Lowcountry.
“Get to know your Gullah history, not because the words ‘Gullah’ and ‘Geechee’ are fashionable nowadays, but because it’s who we are; it’s our unique history, our ancestral roots … it helps us even today as to where we should be going,” said Singleton-Prather, a gifted storyteller and knowledgeable ancestral teacher.
Some notable sites visited include the Harriet Tubman Bridge and the Frampton House Plantation. While on location at these historic sites, Singleton-Prather gave an account of Tubman’s heroic deeds and her life in Union-occupied Beaufort County. Attendees learned about the role of the Frampton House Plantation during the civil war. There were two Frampton houses. Union Troops burned the first and the second was rebuilt in 1868. Today, the house is open to the public daily as the Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum.
The tour stopped at the Beaufort County National Cemetery to view the monument erected to honor the 174 Unknown Union Soldiers and the 25th Infantry Buffalo Soldier buried there. The tour concluded at Ly Benson’s Gallery and Studio located at 211 Charles Street in downtown Beaufort, which features African-American cultural exhibits from the Sea Islands.
The Gullah Traveling Theater experience instilled a sense of pride in the Class of 1974 about their Gullah/Geechee ancestral roots in the Sea Islands of Beaufort County.
The combined BHS and BCHS 40th Year Class Reunion held four signature events for the nearly 150 Eagles and Dolphins in attendance. The BHS/BCHS Class of 1974 Gala was held on Friday, November 28 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Beaufort. Ms. Ervena Faulkner, former matriarch educator and columnist, was a guest speaker. She reflected on the students’ accomplishments over the past 40 years and the importance of giving back to our communities as a whole.
On Saturday, November 29, after the Tour of the Lowcountry, a Jamboree Cookout was hosted at 3 p.m. at the Howard House of Penn Center, St. Helena Island, SC. Over 150 Eagles and Dolphins attended and reminisced about the “good ole’ days” while eating great soul food, talking and laughing for hours. The class reunion concluded with church service held at the New Covenant Fellowship Ministries located at 19 Covenant Drive in Laurel Bay, on Sunday, November 30.
Event Chairperson Cynthia Williams-Golson and Co-chairperson Cynthia Goethe, along with the other 40th Class Reunion planning committee members, did a wonderful job captivating the spirit of the Class of 1974 and making it a huge success for all in attendance.
Judy Powell Crawford is a native of Beaufort who specializes in the exploration of art, culture and history especially in the Lowcountry and surrounding areas. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 843-271-8120.