The Gullah are a distinctive group of Black Americans from South Carolina and Georgia in the southeastern United States. They live in small farming and fishing communities along the Atlantic coastal plain and on the chain of Sea Islands which runs parallel to the coast.
Because of their geographical isolation and strong community life, the Gullah have been able to preserve more of their African cultural heritage than any other group of Black Americans. They speak a creole language similar to Sierra Leone Krio, use African names, tell African folktales, make African-style handicrafts such as baskets and carved walking sticks, and enjoy a rich cuisine based primarily on rice.
Discover the Cultural Connection, Nomadic Noni can customize a Gullah Getaway for your group. See below choice experiences for Black Heritage Month 2019.
Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum a photographic and interactive exhibits memorializing Savannah’s own civil rights struggle.
First African Baptist Church
- Oldest Black Church in North America since 1773.
- The pews were made by enslaved people which are nailed into the floors.
- The pews have markings written in the African dialect known as “Cursive Hebrew”.
- The ceiling of the church is in the design of a “Nine Patch Quilt” which represented that the church was a safe house for enslaved people.
- Nine Patch Quilts was also a map and guide informing people where to go next or what to look out for during their travel.
- The holes in the floor are in the shape of an African prayer symbol known as a Congolese Cosmogram. In Africa, it also means “Flash of the Spirits” and represents birth, life, death, and rebirth.
- Beneath the auditorium floor is a subfloor which is know as the “Underground Railroad” with 4 feet of height between both floors. People would feed those hiding through the holes to keep them nourished while in hiding.
- The entrance to the Underground Railroad remains unknown.
- After leaving the tunnel, the former enslaved people would try to make their way far north as possible.
- The church served as the largest gathering place for blacks and whites to meet during the time of segregation.
A little-known monument stands in the center of Franklin Square. Savannah’s Haitian Monument memorializes the contributions of the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue, the Haitian volunteer regiment that fought for America in the Siege of Savannah during the Revolutionary War. The only colonized nation that claimed a successful slave revolt, Haiti was a kindred spirit to revolution. The Haitian regiment, one of the only black regiments, defended Savannah valiantly with many of their foot soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice for the American cause. Though their service was never formally recognized by the country they fought for, Savannah installed the monument to atone for this critical shortcoming of its parent nation.
Learn about the Gullah culture direct from residents who grew up in a small, close-knit community.
Discover the contribution of Africans in the creation of the colony of Georgia, the State of Georgia, and the City of Savannah; secret schools; spiritual and cultural highlights of Africans in Savannah.
The whole stretch of Savannah’s famous River Street brims with Black history. The cobbles composing the street were painstakingly laid by the hands of enslaved Africans. Telling holes and chain remnants that bound slaves captive mar the walls of the brick bays that line Factors’ Row. A historic tour down River Street will reveal untold truths about the strip’s dark past, but one important beam of light stands in tribute to The Emancipation. Erected just behind the Hyatt Hotel in 2002, the African American Monument was designed and installed by a SCAD professor-student duo. The monument depicts a family of four in close embrace with the chains of slavery lying at their feet. The stone base is inscribed with an inspiring passage from the late Maya Angelou. The monument is an important place to stop and pay respect to the slave families who built Savannah by hand.
Explore African and Haitian culture through Art.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Experience a Taste of Gullah, authentic Gullah dishes such as Okra Gumbo, Conch Stew, friend shrimp dusted in traditional Gullah seasonings and classic barbecue favorites like char-grilled chicken and ribs.
Enjoy The Arts Ob We People: Winter Exhibition and Sale, a display of original work by emerging and leading artists that represents the life of Gullah people on Hilton Head Island and the surrounding community. Artists will be onsite at various times throughout the exhibit.
Explore “Through the Eyes of Gullah Elders”. A feature-length documentary featuring Gullah elders, the descendants of freedmen, based on the historic Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. They share their personal stories about their communities, farming, fishing, upbringing, church, education, Northern Migration, food ways, language and the development that came with the construction of the bridge in 1956 and how it greatly impacted their lives.
Soul Food and Friends Cooking Classes. Great cooking is about more than recipes—it’s about techniques. In this evening class you’ll work together with other students in a fun, hands-on environment led by authentic Gullah Chefs. Get tons of hands-on practice on preparing lowcountry favorites using locally sourced foods!
Explore Gullah communities on Hilton Head Island when the island’s landscape was only farmlands, trees, dirt roads, wildlife and natural waterways throughout and around the island. The distinctive Gullah language, traditional foods and recipes, music, religion, social structure and folktales will all be woven into an interactive educational and entertaining experience. You will come away with an understanding of how the descendants of former enslaved people developed and maintained these communities on the then-isolated island.
The Gullah Market: An Arts, Crafts and Food Expo. The annual Gullah Market offers cultural demonstrations, authentic Gullah and African crafts and food for sale, as well as an offering of traditional storytelling, music entertainment and the Celebration of African American Authors. Featured performances by the Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, Wona Womalan West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Gullah Ooman Louise Cohen and more!
For almost twenty years Theresa Noni Charles has been creating and coordinating cultural and educational programs and services that focus on Africa and the Diaspora. From weekend getaways to youth and adult excursions abroad. To developing community programs and hands on learning opportunities. The journey continues as Nomadic Noni embarks on a world-wide adventure connecting cultures through educational experiences. Join the journey sign-up for our e-newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Theresa Noni Charles