Topics: Gullah, Slavery, Black people Pages: 6 (1780 words) Published: December 8, 2010
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The recent rise in Black consciousness has created an extraordinary interest in the study of Black heritage and the preservation of Black culture in America. Many scholars and students are turning their attention to A frican-American cultural patterns, which have been long ignored and often scorned. Black people are realizing more and more that these patterns exemplify key features of their heritage and may offer not only clues into the past, but also provide guides to survival in the future. As this interest gains momentum, African-Americans are looking toward the South, particularly to its rural and isolated islands where so many of the unique elements of contemporary Black culture have their roots. The culture of the Sea Islands is such a special case. The lack of contact with the mainland helped to preserve some of the important features of their African culture. Because the Africans that were brought to these islands were not sold and resold as often as those on the mainland, some of their ancestral family patterns remain even to this date.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A. Sea Islands
Begin just north of Georgetown, South Carolina, and continue to the Florida border. It is estimated that there are approximately 1,000 islands along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia separated from the mainland by marshes, alluvial streams and rivers. 1. Some of the islands are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and are as far as twenty miles or more from the mainland. 2. They range in size from the uninhabitable ones to John’s Island South Carolina, the second largest island in the United States. B. European settlement

1. The Sea Islands have formed the basis of a very profitable agriculture. 2. During slavery, the long staple cotton grown here was considered the best available anywhere and brought very favorable prices on the world market 3. The economy of the region was based almost entirely on slavery, and because of the labor intensity of the crops, very large plantations developed in this area. a. Some Whites owned entire islands containing thousands of acres of land and maintained hundreds of slaves to till the soil. C. Isolation

1. The isolation of the islands and the large numbers of slaves meant that the influence of American White culture upon African and slave culture was minimal. 2. To further enhance the development of a unique Black culture, there was the continual importation of slaves directly from Africa. a. The overwhelming number of slaves entering South Carolina during the 18th century came directly from Africa. b. The isolation of the islands made them a prime location for slave traders to land illegal cargoes of Africans after the Slave Trade Act of 1808. c. Africans were imported into the islands as late as 1858. D. Cultural formations

1. There was a geographical, social and cultural basis for the retention of many elements of African culture in the Sea Islands and the development of a distinctive African-American culture. 2. The word “Gullah” was once defined as the way of speaking of Blacks on the Sea Islands. In recent years, Gullah has come to mean not only the speech of Black islanders but also their culture and way of life. a. Food- traditional seafood and rice dishes “Hoppin John” and “Frogmore Stew” b. Arts-basket weaving, donning fishnets, pottery, and quilting. c. The first American cowboys were the Blacks in the Carolina low country (Sea Islands). d. Contributions to American music are also evident.

e. Tradition of fishing passed from one generation to another. f. During the slave period many of the customs the people developed clearly reflected African culture and post-bellum conditions enhanced their retention.

Basket weaving is one of the...

Bibliography: 1. Adjaye, Joseph K., Time in the Black Experience. Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1994.
3. Holloway, Joseph, Africanisms in American Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
5. Jackson, Juanita, Slaughter, Sabra, and Blake, J. Herman, "The Sea Islands As A Cultural Resource," The Black Scholar, March, 1974 p.32.
7. Jones-Jackson, Patricia, When Roots Die: Endangered Traditions on the Sea Islands. University of Georgia Press, 1987.
9. Spieler, Gerhard, The Beaufort Gazette, Feb. 3, 1987 p. 16a.
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