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Celebrate Rich History at the Gullah Geechee Festival

  By  Shelbi Ankiewicz

A new festival full of color, storytelling, and abundant information is hitting the Grand Strand. It’s called The Atlantic Beach Gullah Geechee Cultural and Nature Festival. The festival is to commemorate the Gullah Geechee culture and recognize this group that’s survived through past centuries.

According to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, the Gullah people are descendants of Africans who were brought to the United States during the slave trade. They were put on the coasts of southern states ranging from North Carolina to Florida to work on plantations. The Gullah Geechee people first came to be from their language. Since the enslaved people came from different parts of Africa, they spoke different languages, so to communicate with each other they created their own language for everyone to understand. The Gullah language is derived of both African and English languages and is the only recognized African creole language in the United States.

The festival, taking place from June 23rd-25th, will highlight everything about the culture from clothes, to dance, food, language, and trade. Here is what you can expect to see:

Featured Speakers

At the event will be three notable speakers, the first one being Ron Daise. He is a performer and storyteller, who will be at the event all weekend to share information from his recent Geechee Literature Series. Secondly is Cecil Williams, a photographer and founder of South Carolina’s Civil Rights Museum. He will be presenting his photos, including some that he took during the Civil Rights movement while working for a magazine. The last speaker is Sunn M’Cheaux, who was born in Charleston, S.C. He is a teacher of the creole language and is the first and only Gullah instructor at Harvard University.

Readings and Performances

Throughout the weekend-long event there will be multiple chances to listen to readings about the Gullah Geechee culture. On Saturday there will be both poetry and book readings to listen to. Also on Saturday, during the evening, Asher Theatre’s group will hold a performance depicting songs from “the home of the shag.”

Opportunities to Connect

As if the weekend doesn’t sound like a good time, to top it off there being an opportunity to meet some of the presenters and organizers themselves. To kick off the weekend, there is going to be a meet and greet Friday evening where you can meet the host of the festival and some of the featured speakers. The event is free but ticketed. To reserve a spot, go to the website (listed below) and get your seat. In addition, there will be time to mingle with attendees as well during the various social events held throughout the festival.

To see the full lineup of the festival and receive more details of what will happen, visit the festivals website: Atlantic Beach South Carolina Gullah Geechee Organization. The event will take place Friday from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, and Sunday from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Come out to learn more about the Gullah Geechee culture and celebrate this part of history.

Shelbi Ankiewicz
Shelbi Ankiewicz is a senior at Coastal Carolina University studying communication, journalism, and intercultural studies. She is originally from Montgomery, Alabama, but has resided in Myrtle Beach for 14 years. She is the Editor-in-Chief of CCU's student newspaper, The Chanticleer, and is a member of a two-year leadership program called the Wall Fellows. Shelbi enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling to major cities in the SouthEast, and attending concerts. In her free time you can find her hanging out with her frenchton bulldog, Oma, or visiting the local trails Myrtle Beach has to offer.