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Emory Campbell to deliver lecture to Burton-Dale-Beaufort NAACP

Popular former Penn Center Executive Director Emory S. Campbell, one of South Carolina’s most respected Gullah activists and community leaders, will deliver the Burton-Dale-Beaufort Branch NAACP’s 2014 Malcolm X Lecture in celebration of Black History Month.

Campbell, a native of Hilton Head Island and Chairman Emeritus of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, will address the importance of grooming the next generation of young black leaders.

His speech will form the centerpiece of the Burton-Dale-Beaufort Branch NAACP’s Second Annual Malcolm X Lecture/Black History Month Celebration. The free public event will be held on Monday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in Beaufort’s historic Grand Army Hall, 706 Newcastle St.

Named an Honorary Paramount Chief by the people of Sierra Leone in the 1980s, Campbell holds the royal title of Kpaa Kori I, which was conferred upon him during a Gullah/Sierra Leone family reunion visit to the West African nation many local Gullah families trace their roots to. His dynamic leadership in re-establishing centuries old Gullah/West African cultural connections has been well documented across the media, including the powerful S.C. Educational Television 1990 documentary “Family Across the Sea.”

Campbell is currently Director of the Hilton Head Island-based Gullah Heritage Consulting Services. He’s also a co-founder of the Gullah Heritage Trail Tours.

Campbell’s “advanced research and outreach in many communities throughout the world will give this lecture an unforgettable exchange between the young and old about the value systems needed for our co-existence in this society,” says Burton-Dale-Beaufort NAACP President Darryl T. Murphy.

And Beaufort resident George Singleton observes that the Grand Army Hall is a perfect setting for the NAACP’s Malcolm X Lecture. “This is one of the most important Gullah historic sites in Beaufort and America,” Singleton said during the group’s Feb. 8 meeting.

The Grand Army Hall of the Republic was founded in 1888 by veterans of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first Black soldiers to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Most of the First South Carolina Volunteers were former slaves of Beaufort County sea island plantations, who were freed during the massive combined Union Navy/Army invasion of the Beaufort County on Nov. 7, 1861 known as “the big gun shoot.” Legendary Civil War hero and Reconstruction-era Congressman Robert Smalls was an officer of the Grand Army Hall, according to its historical marker.

The current Grand Army Hall building was built in 1896. It’s operated by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the Fred Washington, Sr. Women’s Relief Corps #1 of S.C., and the Edward Wallace Camp #20. They continue the time-honored “Decoration Day” festivities that honor the Black soldiers and others who gave their lives for freedom during the Civil War.

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