By Kat Walsh
On Dec. 21, 1996, St. Helena Island native Marquetta L. Goodwine launched the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition at the Spiritual Rhythms Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y.
One year later, the national organization opened the Hunnuh Home: Gullah/Geechee Research Center on St. Helena Island, and has operated from that base since that time.
The Gullah-Geechee people officially came together to declare themselves as a nation on July 2, 2000, and, with international observers and media present, they elected Goodwine as their first “head pun de boddee” (head of state) and official spokesperson, granting her the title of Queen Quet, chieftess and head-of-state for the Gullah-Geechee Nation.
Now, to celebrate 20 years as the premiere advocacy organization for Gullah-Geechee people worldwide – and in part to celebrate Black History Month – the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition will host 20 different events as a part of #GullahGeechee2020.
These events include:
• Gullah/Geechee Knows Emanuel: A Gullah/Geechee Story: 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, The Pointe Center, 4870 Piedmont Ave., North Charleston.
The February event, which coordinates with Black History Month, takes the audience on a journey through the GullahGeechee memories of the history of Emmanuel in Charleston, from the founding of Emanuel AME by Denmark Vesey and Gullah Jack to the tragic shooting of nine of its members in 2015. Proceeds go to the Gullah Geechee Angel Network.
• Gullah/Geechee: Africa’s Seed in the Winds of the Diaspora: Noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, USCB Center for the Arts.
As part of the monthly Books Sandwiched In, sponsored by the Friends of Beaufort County Library, Queen Quet will present from her series “Gullah/Geechee: Africa’s Seed in the Winds of the Diaspora.” The historical-musical presentation will be followed by a book signing.
• Gullah/Geechee Volunteer Month: March 1-31.
Groups interested in contributing their time and expertise to assisting with work on the grounds of the Gullah-Geechee Nation are invited to be part of a transformational community service learning opportunity.
• The Black Folks Land Legacy Conference: Beyond 40 Acres: March 10-12, St. Helena Branch Library.
Sponsored by the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, the inaugural Black Folks Land Legacy Conference tells the story of black land ownership, self-sufficiency and subsistence.
• Gittin Ready fa de Gullah/Geechee Family Reunion: An Interactive Family Collections Digitization and Protection Workshop: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 25, St. Helena Branch Library.
Sponsored by the SC Humanities Council, this free workshop features sessions covering living culture, archiving and cultural heritage resources.
• Coastal Cultures Conference: Sustaining Cultural Heritage as the Climate Changes, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, St. Helena Branch Library.
The Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank hosts a family friendly day of education about coastal and human health, seafood safety and sustainability.
Upcoming summer events include Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week and the Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival.
For more information and registration for all listed events, visit www.gullahgeecheenation.com or contact GullGeeCo@aol.com.