Some R&R on Hilton Head Island, SC, led me to a historic site and, at times, a hidden culture.
The Gullah Museum
The Gullah/Geechee people are descendants of African slaves who lived in the low country, coastal regions of the United States; North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Their enslavement on isolated islands and coastal plantations created a unique African culture that’s expressed through the Gullah/Geechee people’s language, arts, food, crafts, and music.
The Gullah Museum, founded and directed by Hilton Head Island native and Gullah storyteller Dr. Louise Miller Cohen, was established to preserve the Gullah/Geechee heritage and culture. The land, now the museum site, was purchased by William Simmons, a former slave and the great-grandfather of Dr. Cohen, after the Civil War ended in 1865. The museum house, known as the Little House, was built in 1930 by Georgianna Jones Bryan, the aunt of Dr. Cohen. This house now serves as an exhibit of day-to-day life in the farming and bartering community in the area.
During the museum presentation, Dr. Cohen told us about her family’s history, taught us about Gullah/Geechee culture (including food, medicine, and artifacts), and proudly spoke the Gullah language. She advised the future plans for the museum include preserving the trailer and additional homes on the land, building a community center, planting a garden, and more. However, the fight to preserve the museum and homes has been a financial challenge. So help from the community would be greatly appreciated.
We have to protect and preserve the history/culture that’s often ignored here in the United States.
Until Next Time…
THE GULLAH GEECHEE. Gullah Geechee. (n.d.). https://gullahgeecheecorridor.org/thegullahgeechee/.