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The Gullah Experience

Raised toward our $4,500 Goal
22 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 02, at 12:00 AM MDT
Project Owners

Travel with Us: Harris Neck, GA

October 24, 2018

As we travel from South Carolina to Georgia, one of our stops will be Harris Neck, GA – a place where Gullah residents are still fighting to regain their lands.


Wilson Moran and his family are also one of the driving forces behind the Harris Neck Land Trust. The Harris Neck Land Trust was established in 2006 to represent all of the surviving African American, Gullah and white families still attempting to reclaim their land from the federal government taken from them over 70 years ago.


Not long after the United States entered World War II, the U.S. Army began looking for land along the Georgia coast on which to build an Army Airfield. In McIntosh County, the Army was led to Harris Neck by a few local power brokers. The Federal government took over Harris Neck via Eminent Domain and gave the members of the community just a few weeks to move. On July 27, 1942 everyone was evicted, some forcefully; the Army then burned and bulldozed everything in the community and began construction of its Airfield. Most, but not all, families were paid a few dollars per acre, but no one was paid for their homes, businesses, or other buildings, and the government made no provisions for where the people would now live - they were simply left to fend for themselves. When the war was over, the lands were not returned to the owners and, now 70 years later, the residents are still fighting to regain what was rightfully theirs.

Gullah Guide: Gullah Language

October 17, 2018

The Gullah language, also called Sea Island Creole, is a language spoken by the Gullah people. While based on English, the Gullah language is also a mix of West and Central African languages, such as Ibo, Krio, Wolof, and Mende. The Gullah language allowed plantation owners, overseers, and slaves from West Africa to communicate with one another. When slavery ended, the Gullah language remained and in the 1930s and 1940s, linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner, studied the language extensively. His research found connections between Gullah, English, and African languages. His findings were published in 1949 and Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, remains the primary linguistic study on the Gullah language.  Approximately 250,000 Gullah speakers on the Sea Islands continue to maintain their language today. In 2005, after more than 20 years, the Gullah New Testament, De Nyew Testament, was published aiding in the recognition of Gullah as a language. In 2017, Harvard University offered their first Gullah language course: Read more about it here: Harvard University Recognizes the Gullah Language In Its New Curriculum. You can listen to the language here from one of the most important Gullah storytellers, Carolyn Jabuluile White, describes the language and tell a story here: Carolyn Jabulile White Speaking Gullah and English.



Travel with Us: The Penn Center

October 12, 2018

The first stop on our journey is the historic Penn Center for the Heritage Days Celebration and Symposium.


The Penn Center was once the Penn School, opened in 1862 to educate freed slaves at the beginning of the Civil War. The Penn School was part of the Port Royal Experiment, a program designed by the Union government to assess whether or not newly freed slaves could become part of American citizenship, which included education. It remained an educational institution on St. Helena Island until 1948. When the school closed, the Penn School became the Penn Community Center wherein the 1960’s, the Penn Community Center served as a meeting space for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Today, the Penn Center is an educational space where the annual Heritage Days Celebration is held every November.


~ Further reading ~ The Penn Center website:

The Gullah People, Enslavement, & Rice

October 09, 2018

The Gullah people are descendants of West Africans brought to the Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida as early as 1670. The story of the Gullah people is much like the story of all enslaved Africans; it is the story of forced labor. Over hundreds of years, however, this forced labor created a distinct culture that retains many of the West African traditions those Africans brought with them.


Gullah history and culture was shaped mainly by the cash crop of rice – the crop that would become the crown jewel of the colonial and antebellum economy in this region. Until slaves from West Africa, where rice is a vital crop, were brought to the Sea Islands, attempts to cultivate rice failed. Thus, it was because of the ingenuity of West Africans did rice thrive here. Rice cultivation was an intricate process, and Gullah descendants understood each step in the process that ensured the successful crop and each of the measures used on rice plantations – from planting to cultivation to harvest - was derived from Gullah African ancestors. Without rice, planters would not have attained their wealth. Yet, this crop as well as the task system (where slaves worked specific tasks rather than “sun up to sundown”) that allowed for more time to develop community among the enslaved and the conditions of the environment that made a consistent white presence near impossible, allowed the Gullah to develop their own culture including language, arts, religious practices, and foodways.


As Jonathan Green stated,

“If you are going to study Gullah, you have got to study rice.”


Choose a giving level


Meal Costs

A gift of $20 will provide one meal for our students while traveling. Each dollar helps and will be used to defray expenses throughout the trip. Those giving at this level will receive a photo and thank you letter from our class.


Symposium Admission

A donation of $30 will cover one student admission to the symposium at the Penn Center or one student tour and lunch while on Ossabaw Island or Sapelo Island. Those giving at this level will receive a photo and thank you letter from our class.


Baggage Fees

Your $50 gift could cover one student’s baggage fees or two ferry tickets to Sapelo Island or three student meals. Those giving at this level will receive a photo and thank you letter from our class.


Transportation Costs

We will be traveling between sites, and your contribution would help to pay for the bus and driver/guide. Those giving at this level will receive a thank you letter from our class and a video of our trip.


Housing Costs

A donation of $500 would pay one student’s housing for the entire week at both of our locations at the Penn Center and Darien, GA. Those giving at this level will receive a thank you letter from a student, a video of our trip and a special gift from the Sea Islands.


Sponsor a Student

A gift of $1000 would sponsor one student’s entire trip! This is a large donation, but the impact of such a generous gift would make a massive difference to our students. Those giving at this level will receive a thank you letter from a student, a video of our trip, and a special gift from the Sea Islands.