"Very Important for Building Human Community": United Nations Highlights Gullah People in New Video

 

I'm pleased to share this 10-minute video, produced by a media arm of the United Nations system as part of its International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024. It focuses on the history and curent situtation of the Gullah-Geechee people of South Carolina and Georgia, particularly with regard to environmental degradation and encroachment by real estate speculators and the coastal leisure industry.

 

While I take issue with some of the historical framing and wording (for example, I don't think it's accurate to say that the Gullah "settled" in South Carolina and the Geechee in Georgia, as if they were immigrants like any others and as if they were distinct peoples, and the film footage relating to the U.S. Civil War is clearly drawn from vintage popular cinema) I appreciate very much the publicty for the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a new and important unit of the National Park Service, and for Penn Center, one of the institutions at the cultural and intellectual heart of the Gullah people. And what a treat to see my dear Baha'i sister, Victoria Smalls, represent Penn Center so well!

 

Many thanks to the United Nations, the indispensable common house of humanity, for bringing attention to the 200 million people of African descent in the Americas with the theme "Recognition, Justice, Development," and for so prominently featuring those most African of USAmericans, the Gullah-Geechee of my own home state. Their claims for recognition, for justice, and for appropriate social and economic development need to be heard, and acted upon, by the people of South Carolina and its institutions at all levels.

 

If you're not familiar with the Gullah-Geechee culture, a good place to start is this weekend's Heritage Days festival at Penn Center, located on St. Helena Island near Beaufort.

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