In the wake of the recent tragedy during which the Gullah/Geechee Nation lost nine of its citizens during what has been deemed the “Charleston Massacre,”we continue to walk on with the pride and dignity of their ancestors as they come out of a period of mourning into a time of celebration. What would be an annual time to celebrate Gullah/Geechee traditions and culture is now also a time to celebrate the lives of the Emanuel 9. The Gullah/Geechee Nation will have a series of events that will take place during the month of July in order to honor the legacies of these nine souls and to bring the Gullah/Geechee family together on the coast from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL.
Penn Center, Inc. launched its “2nd Saturdays” at the beginning of the year. This allows people to visit the York W. Bailey Museum without paying admission. So, those that come out to the celebration will also have a chance to learn more of the history of this historic institution while celebrating the continuing Gullah/Geechee fishing traditions in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. The event which will be “Gullah/Geechee Famlee Day” will go on from Noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2015 with music, crafts, a fish fry, and family fun at the Penn Center National Landmark Historic District.
On Saturday, July 18th, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition will host De Gullah Root Experience Tour for groups. This is an interactive Gullah/Geechee tour of St. Helena Island which is done in Gullah/Geechee and in English. The organization customizes tours for groups throughout the year. For more details go to www.gullahgeechee.net and www.gullahgeechee.us.
The journey to learn more about the Gullah/Geechee traditions, language, heritage, and culture does not begin or end with tours, but it does require true engagement with native Gullah/Geechees that live the traditions. Each year, the Gullah/Geechee Nation’s leaders work with Gullah/Geechee businesses, historic sites, traditionalists, educators, and artists to put together a series of activities that allow those that want to connect to authentic living traditions of the people to be able to do so while also seeing various parts of the Gullah/Geechee Nation’s coast. “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” which will be held July 25-August 2, 2015 will do this. Also, this year, each day of the week will be in honor of one of the Emanuel 9.
“Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” will be launched at Mosquito Beach in Charleston County, SC on Saturday, July 25 at Noon with a number of crafts demonstrations, music, Gullah/Geechee cuisine and language, and tours of this historic Gullah/Geechee community. The celebration will continue with a celebration in Walterboro, SC on the evening of July 28th in celebration of the town’s first proclamation of the week at which Queen Quet will conduct a special ceremony. On July 30th participants will journey to historic St. Helena Island at 6 p.m. for “Gullah/Geechee Night at MJs Soul Food” which will feature dancing and Gullah/Geechee crafts and cuisine. The entire week will culminate in the “Gullah/Geechee Reunion” at Geechee Kunda in Riceboro, GA as the “Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™” (www.gullahgeechee.info) takes place there.
As the motto of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition states: “Hunnuh mus tek cyare de root fa heal de tree.” This month will truly be about healing the roots and the hearts of Gullah/Geechees and will cause them to emerge with drums playing, songs begin sung, and shoutin’ gwine on! Cum fa jayn we!
For more information about the celebrations, email GullGeeCo@aol.com or call 843-838-1171 or at www.gullahgeecheenation.com