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Smalls Appointed to Federal Commission Preserving Gullah Heritage

Victoria Smalls

Please join me in congratulating Ms. Victoria Smalls, Director of Development and Public Relations at Penn Center on St. Helena Island, SC, on her recent appointment to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission!

Created by Congress in 2006, the Corridor is a unit of the National Park Service that aims to promote historic preservation, cultural rejuvenation, education, and economic development in the heartland of the Gullah/Geechee people along the south Atlantic coast. Ms. Smalls has been appointed by Dr. Eric Emerson, the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, to represent her state on the Commission. She is already a member of the SC African American Heritage Commission (where I also happen to serve as a representative of Francis Marion University).

For Baha'is familiar with South Carolina, this is most welcome news. Ms. Smalls's late parents, Elting and Laura Markovich Smalls, were the first interracial marriage (of many!) in the SC Baha'i community, and they served the faith with distinction in a variety of capacities for decades. In 1971, when National Spiritual Assembly created the SC Regional Teaching Committee to promote and manage large-scale growth of the Faith in the state--primarily among the Gullah people of the Lowcountry--Elting Smalls, a native of St. Helena Island, was among its first members. Penn Center, which just last month was part of the designation of the new Reconstruction Era National Monument by the National Park Service, was a key location for Baha'i education, planning, and identity formation during the 1960s and 1970s. (I wrote about this important development here.)

Thank you, Victoria, for all your work to protect and promote the rich cultural heritage of the Gullah people and of the SC Baha'i community!

Baha'is at Penn Center, July 1961

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