Veronica Davis Gerald, an English professor at Coastal Carolina University, is working this semester with area chambers of commerce to incorporate information about African American history and culture into marketing efforts.
The project is part of Coastals Public Engagement Directed Studies program. Davis is the seventh Coastal professor to be selected to lead a Public Engagement study,.
During the spring semester, Gerald will research and compile a 25-page booklet to be called Grand Strand Black Heritage that will tell the story of African Americans in the area. The brochure will be included in the chambers promotional materials..
The story of black people who live in this region has gone unnoticed and unwritten about in the literature about and promotion of the Grand Stand, an area visited by millions of people every year, said Gerald. Most of the black people who presently live in and around the Grand Strand are descendants of the Gullah people brought to the area as early as the late 1600s their presence and influence should be visible in the literature about the region..
The Public Engagement project, initiated in the spring 2003 semester, is a university-community partnership in which Coastal professors work full-time, 40-hour-per-week internships with area organizations. They share their knowledge and expertise with their respective partner organizations, focusing on projects that have meaningful, measurable applications in real world endeavors..
Gerald, long known for her commitment to Gullah heritage, recently co-authored a cookbook, The Ultimate Gullah Cookbook: A Taste of Food, History and Culture from the Gullah People, and she recently opened her own arts and crafts shop, Ultimate Gullah, in Conway. .
Gerald has been at Coastal since 1980. She was also director of history and culture at the Penn Center near Beaufort for three years and has held professorships at Illinois State University and Morehouse College. She has received various awards for her work in the preservation of Gullah culture, including the South Carolina Governors Award in Humanities and the 1999 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award.