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New Lowcountry project looks to Gullah Geechee people

Welcome sign to St. Helena Island in Beaufort County which has been called the epicenter of Gullah Geechee people.
Victoria Hansen
South Carolina Public Radio
Welcome sign to St. Helena Island in Beaufort County which has been called the epicenter of Gullah Geechee people.

Charleston, S.C.- The city of Charleston wants to hear from Gullah Geechee communities to document and preserve their history. A $75,000 grant from the National Park Service has launched a 2-year project called the Gullah Geechee Heritage Preservation Project.

“Valuing diversity means acknowledging and investing in the history and legacy of those who contributed to American culture under inhumane conditions,” said City of Charleston Human Affairs and Racial Conciliation Manager Adrian Capers Swinton.

The project aims to connect Gullah Geechee and African American communities with resources, collect archives and stories, and create partnerships to preserve history. The city of Charleston has teamed up with the town of Mount Pleasant and the Preservation Society of Charleston to host a series of public information meetings this month and next.

“This initiative not only recognizes the importance of Gullah Geechee heritage, it aims to address long-standing disparities in access to the benefits of historic designations,” said Preservation Society of Charleston President and CEO Brian Turner.

Gullah Geechee people are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans who’ve been able to maintain much of their culture and traditions by living remotely, often on South Carolina’s sea islands. It’s estimated one million Gullah Geechee people still live along the southeast coast, but their populations are disappearing as their rural land is developed or eroded by flooding and intense storms.

The public information sessions will be held between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the following dates and times.

  • Thursday, July 20, 2023, Keith School Museum, 1509 Clements Ferry Road, Wando
  • Monday, July 24, 2023, Baxter Patrick Library, 1858 S. Grimball Road, James Island
  • Thursday, August 3, 2023, Mount Pleasant Waterworks, Rifle Range Road, Mt. Pleasant
  • Monday, August 7, 2023, J.E. Clyburn Wiltown Community Center, 5779 Parkers Ferry Road, Adams Run
  • Thursday, August 10, 2023, Cynthia G. Hurd Library, 1735 N. Woodmere Drive, West Ashley
  • Monday, August 14, 2023, Chicora Cherokee Elementary (Media Center) 3100 Carner Avenue, North Charleston
  • Thursday, August 17, 2023, Johns Island County Library, 3531 Maybank Highway, Johns Island
  • Monday, August 21, 2023, Virtual Zoom Session, Click Here to Register
Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.