Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book on Gullah Geechee culture launches March 18 in Savannah

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE IN THE GEORGIA LOWCOUNTRY, a new edited collection of essays on Gullah Geechee culture, will launch Thursday, March 18 at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum at 460 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Savannah.

Noted historian Emory Campbell, whose essay “A Sense of Self and Place: Unmasking My Gullah Cultural Heritage” is the final chapter in the book, will give a short talk, followed by a brief Q & A Panel featuring Campbell and other experts on the history of coastal Georgia’s African American communities. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:00 pm and is co-sponsored by the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance and the Georgia Historical Society.

Campbell, a native of Hilton Head Island, was for many years the director of Penn Center, an important institution in the preservation of Sea Islands culture. He currently serves as chair of the commission tasked by the National Park Service with planning for the newly designated Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which will help unite historic Gullah/Geechee sites along the coast (from Wilmington, NC to Jacksonville, FL) into a "cohesive, nationally important landscape."

Like the cultural heritage corridor, the book and its eleven collected essays are part of a broad effort to more fully relate the history of African Americans along the Atlantic coast. Part of the press's Race in the Atlantic World series, the book puts the Gullah Geechee story in the context of African identity formation and struggles over emancipation and its aftermath across the Atlantic world.