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.
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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.
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.
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