Georgia Southern’s Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Center invites public to grand opening, Juneteenth celebration on June 19
Georgia Southern University’s Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Center will officially open its doors with a grand opening and ribbon cutting on June 19. Coinciding with the Center’s Juneteenth celebration, the public is invited to attend the festivities at 13040 Abercorn Street in Savannah from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The ribbon cutting will kick off the event at 11 a.m. as local dignitaries, including Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson, Georgia Rep. Carl Gilliard, Georgia Sen. Derek Mallow and Chatham County Chairman Chester Ellis, as well as Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Executive Director Victoria Smalls, Gullah Geechee historian and preservationist Queen Quet and Georgia Southern Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carl Reiber, Ph.D., offer opening remarks.
“This is a monumental occasion,” said Maxine Bryant, Ph.D., director of the Gullah Geechee Center. “To celebrate our grand opening on the nationally recognized Juneteenth is extremely meaningful. We will simultaneously honor the freedom of enslaved Black Americans and the Gullah Geechee culture that has preserved more African traditions than any other group.”
The Gullah Geechee people of Coastal Georgia are descendants of enslaved Africans from plantations along the lower Atlantic coast. Many came from the rice-growing region of West Africa and were brought to the Americas for their agricultural and architectural knowledge and skills. The enslaved Africans were isolated on the Sea Islands. This isolation enabled them to create and maintain a unique culture steeped in remnants of Africa. This culture became known as Gullah Geechee and is visible in the people’s distinctive arts, crafts, foodways, use of waterways, music, dance and language.
Much of the Gullah Geechee community today, which is estimated to be a population of 1 million, can speak the African Creole language or tell the stories of their ancestors who are credited with influencing southern and American culture.
Local Gullah Geechee artists and the McIntosh County Shouters will showcase their talent at the event, and food truck vendors will be on-site.The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Center, established in 2019, honors myriad contributions made by Gullah Geechee people, provides educational resources for the public, promotes scholarship and research, and serves as a model for national reconciliation and reparations. It is part of the Gullah Geechee Corridor, which stretches across 27 counties in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.
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