Holiday events celebrate Gullah heritage

7 mins read

A series of holiday events planned around Beaufort from Dec. 7-9 will celebrate the season with a nod to the area’s Gullah heritage. 

7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, Original Musical, University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts

It’s December of 1860, the last Christmas before the Civil War and Reconstruction is soon to come. Masters in the “Big House” are talking about war coming while servants in their quarters are talking about freedom coming.  Join Aunt Pearlie Sue & The Gullah Kinfolk as they bring all that history alive during a special yuletide season celebration on the Sea Islands of historic Beaufort — the real Wakanda.

The group will lift you up with this special holiday weekend by delivering a rousing and inspirational, original musical, “Gullah Kinfolk Christmas Wish… Freedom Comin’” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the USCB Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret St., Beaufort.

The set depicts a South Carolina plantation shortly after the state secedes from the Union. The anticipation of freedom is expressed by the servants through jubilant song and dance on stage. The performance is anchored by the artful story-telling of Aunt Pearlie Sue, portrayed by Anita Singleton Prather. The show is intended for all people – of any age and any race. Performers hope to touch each audience member with the deep faith and loving spirit of the Gullah people.

Prather is a veteran educator, ordained minister and nationally-acclaimed storyteller and writer. She performed before the United Nations in 2016 and recently at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She has been featured, along with Gullah Kinfolk, on CNN’s Emmy-winning “United Shades of America” hosted by comedian Kamau Bell. She has appeared on other television networks including the Food Network, PBS and SCETV. She produced and starred in the film, “My Man Done Me Wrong,” which was screened at film festivals around the nation. Prather and the Gullah Kinfolk were also featured in the made-for-television film “Circle Unbroken… From Africa to America.” 

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Admission is $12 for students ages 7-17. 

Friday, December 7, Student Day Shows, 9:30, 10:30 & 11:30 a.m. USCB Center for the Arts

An abbreviated version of the Friday evening performance of the original musical, “Gullah Kinfolk Christmas Wish… Freedom Comin’” is scheduled at USCB at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Admission is $9 for students and $15 for senior citizens.

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 & 8, Gullah Reconstruction Tours

Find out about the rich, unique Gullah heritage of the Beaufort Sea Islands — the real Wakanda! Fun and educational two-hour tours of Beaufort’s nationally-recognized Reconstruction monuments are offered at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, starting at the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce Multiplex Center, 801 Bladen Street. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children under 17.

Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., A Taste of A Gullah Christmas Buffet, Artist Showcase, Vendor’s Marketplace, Trees on Da’ Piazza & Live Entertainment 

Come enjoy lip-smacking, finger-licking, Gullah-licious holiday dishes prepared by some of the finest cooks ’round dese parts, as well as beautiful, unique Gullah arts and crafts, an open house tour, a live Christmas variety show and so much more. Cost for food is $20 for adults and $10 for children. Beautifully decorated Trees on Da’ Piazza will be available for viewing and purchase. Proceeds from sales will be donated to the United Community Task Force Youth Program. Location for this event will be the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce Multiplex Center, 801 Bladen Street. 

Sunday, Dec. 9, 12:30 and 2 p.m., Christmas High Tea & Gullah Storytelling

St. Helena Island, a vibrant community of old live oaks and Gullah culture, is the location for this lovely afternoon event held at the Sea Island Center, 876 Sea Island Pkwy, St. Helena Island. There will be plenty of teapots and Christmas goodies for guests along with storytelling and music with Gullah Kinfolk CDs and DVDs for sale. Admission is $35 for adults and $15 for children under 17.

Sunday, Dec. 9, Noon, St. Helena Island Gullah Tour

See the historic and beautiful Brick Baptist Church built in 1855, Penn Center (one of the first schools for emancipated people in the south), the Martin Luther King Cottage (where Dr. King found sanctuary and inspiration during the Civil Rights movement), the haunting ruins of the Chapel of Ease, the great folk art of famed native son Sam Doyle, the remarkable Lands End Woodlands, historic Fort Fremont, the praise houses of Coffin Point and Eddings Point, and the Red Piano Art and Co-op Building. Meet at the Sea Island Center, 876 Sea Island Pkwy, St. Helena Island. Tickets are $35.

Saturday, Dec. 8, Fri. & Sat. Dec. 14, 15, 21 & 22, 7 p.m., Gullah Jazz Cafe Christmas Dinner Theater & Gullah Soul food Buffet

Enjoy live music, entertainment & dancing with drinks and appetizers, buffet, dessert and coffee.  Perfect for your holiday parties or night on the town. Wine is sold separately. Tickets are $45 per person.

For more information and reservations for these events contact the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce at 843-986-1102 or visit bcbcc.org.  Information for out-of-town visitors regarding hotel and meal packages is also available.

Additional holiday festivities are being offered the weekend of Dec. 7 – 9 by the City of Beaufort and are listed at www.cityofbeaufort.org.  

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