SCETV to premiere ‘Gullah Roots’ documentary Thursday

3 mins read

From staff reports

South Carolina ETV (SCETV) will be premiering a new hour-long documentary film entitled Gullah Roots – it follows leaders of the South Carolina and Georgia Gullah Geechee community as they experience a homecoming in Sierra Leone – Thursday, Oct. 1.

The trip to Sierra Leone took place last winter and included Gullah Geechee scholars, performers and cultural ambassadors, such as Anita Singleton Prather, also known as Aunt Pearlie Sue of the Gullah Kinfolk, and Ron and Natalie Daise, as well as Victoria Smalls, a commissioner of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.

While touring the country, members of the group noted powerful connections between Sierra Leone and the Gullah Geechee people. For example, in one village, Nakia Wigfall, director of the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Preservation Society, sewed a sweetgrass basket with a local basket maker.

Part of SCETV’s Carolina Stories series and achieved with support from South Carolina Humanities, Gullah Roots dives deep into South Carolina’s ties with West Africa, educating viewers about Gullah heritage, including spiritual, musical and artistic traditions.

A sequel to SCETV’s 1990 documentary Family Across the Sea, this project was produced by Betsy Newman and Xavier Blake, and directed, written and edited by Newman. The film aims to raise awareness about the Gullah Geechee community and its ties to West Africa.

It also examines the challenges many in that community face today and the progress they have made since the first homecoming to Sierra Leone 30 years ago.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to document this significant journey. We hope the film will help to educate our viewers about the Gullah Geechee people and their ties to West Africa and the contributions of African Americans to our country’s history and culture.” Newman said.

In addition to its premiere on Oct. 1, Gullah Roots will also be airing at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4 on ETV World and at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5 on the South Carolina Channel.

To celebrate the debut of this project, SCETV and the ETV Endowment of South Carolina will be hosting a film screening event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 at the Highway 21 Drive-In in Beaufort.

The event is open to the public. Additional information and a registration link can be found on Eventbrite at

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