Gullah Geechee heritage is dear to thousands of people in Georgetown County and along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina into Florida.
One of the tireless promoters of honoring the heritage of the descendants of enslaved Africans is Queen Quet (Marquetta Goodwine), Chieftess of the Gullah Geechee Nation.
“I have actually been in Barbados, Fort Lauderdale, (Florida), St. Helena Island, back to Yulee, Florida, and here in three days,” she told members of Georgetown County Council and the audience gathered in Council Chambers on Tuesday, June 25.
“So, there’s no insult when y’all see me leave out from here right after this, ‘cause I’m finally going to a thing called a bed.”
Queen Quet got her expected laughs, then said “Definitely, it is a blessing to be here. The reason that I made sure that I came here.” She had been asked to be in Gainesville, Florida at 2 p.m. that day and in Navassa, N.C. (Brunswick County) at 6 p.m.
She said everybody else had to get off the calendar, “I’m going to Georgetown.”
Queen Quet also said she was glad to hear a presentation earlier in the council meeting about climate change.
She said she plans to link that presentation to the Gullah Geechee sustainability plan “to show how much we are working to keep the environment here” and “to keep the culture alive in this environment as well.”
She invited people to follow @GullahGeechee on Twitter and Instagram and at www.gullahgeecheenation.com or on Facebook. Events for the observance will be posted on those social media beginning July 2.
“You know I’ve got a lot of love for Georgetown County, because I made sure to be here. And my mother sends her greetings to all of y’all,” she added.
In the County Council packet of information for its June 25 meeting, the document accompanying a proclamation stated:
“Gullah/Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans from various ethnic groups of west and central Africa brought to the United States and forced to work on the plantations of coastal South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. Gullah/Geechee people have retained many aspects of their African heritage due to the geographic barriers of the coastal landscapes and strong sense of place and family of Gullah/Geechee community members.”
The proclamation recognizes and celebrates the importance of the Gullah/Geechee culture, as well as its history and legacy in Georgetown County.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Healin de Land and Holdin pun de Culcha” calling on all to support and protect the environment and keep the Gullah/Geechee culture alive on the coast.
In reading the proclamation, Council Chairman John Thomas noted that:
“… in the 18th Century, Georgetown County, the third oldest county in South Carolina became the locale of some of the richest plantations in the South, which were linked to specific West African ethnic groups known as “Gullah/Geechee”; and “the Gullah/Geechee culture has had a powerful impact on the Lowcountry of South Carolina, including Georgetown County, and these influences have helped to define our culture and lifestyle.”
Legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) created the “Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor” in 2006. The proclamation noted that Queen Quet of the Gullah Geechee Nation is among those who have helped increase awareness of the Gullah culture and heritage.
Thomas concluded, “Georgetown County Council recognizes the importance of preserving, celebrating, and sharing the rich heritage of cultural traditions the Gullah/Geechee have brought to our area including traditions of art, food, music, and system of spiritual beliefs” and proclaimed the week of July 27 to August 4 to celebrate that heritage.
You may watch a video of Queen Quet as she thanks Georgetown County and members of County Council for the recognition on the newspaper’s Web site, www.southstrandnews.com .