2022 Schedule - Coastal Carolina University
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IGGAD 2022: Who Owns This? Communities, Heritage, and Preservation

The third annual IGGAD conference will return to Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, and online February 24-26.

Updated 2/4. This schedule is subject to change. Please check back frequently. 


IGGAD22 Program



During the Day: Pre-Conference Excursion Tour of Plantersville (pre-registration required)

6:30 p.m. | Opening Reception (Singleton Ballroom, Coastal Carolina University)

Keynote: Hidden In Plain Sight: The Building of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor

Michael Allen, Founding National Park Service Coordinator, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission 

Michael Allen will share his journey working with Gullah Geechee Communities, Grassroot organizations along with National, State, and Local partners to create the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. In addition he will share his views for the pathway forward for the Gullah Geechee communities, culture, and people. 


FRIDAY, Feb. 25 | Edwards Building at Coastal Carolina University

Events will be live-streamed for virtual registrants.

8 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Registration and Check-In Table Open (Edwards Lobby)

8 a.m. - 9 a.m.: Continental Breakfast (Edwards Lobby)

9 a.m.: Welcome and Opening Address (Edwards Recital Hall)

Opening Keynote Address: Victoria Smalls, Executive Director, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

10 a.m.: Plenary Panel 1 - Johns Island Field School (Edwards Recital Hall)

Jon Marcoux, Director of Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, Clemson/College of Charleston
Tamara Butler, Executive Director, Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
In Memoriam: Abe Jenkins, President, Progressive Club of Johns Island

As an academic and professional field, historic preservation has much to offer Gullah Geechee communities seeking to protect and promote their tangible and intangible heritage. All too often, however, academic programs and preservation organizations have failed to approach community members as collaborators and to invest in the recruitment and preparation of first-generation students, scholars, and practitioners. The Johns Island Community Field School project is being developed to address these shortcomings. In this summer program, historic preservation faculty from Clemson University, archivists from the Avery Research Center, history faculty from Clafflin University, scholars from the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, members of the Progressive Club, and local community educators will teach participants about life in this community during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights periods. Through hands-on learning in the field and in the archive, participants will also learn how to document the physical fabric and cultural narratives associated with the historic buildings and landscapes on this Lowcountry sea island.  The field school will focus recruiting efforts on attracting participants with cultural/historical connections to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (GGCHC), as well as adult residents of Johns Island and adjacent communities within the GGCHC. Thanks to a generous grant from the Vernacular Architectural Foundation, the field school will offer stipends and zero-cost tuition to make the experience more financially accessible, and residents not participating in the full program will be invited and compensated to participate in one-day workshops with topics including building documentation, preservation advocacy, and preservation/heritage careers. 

11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Break

11:15 a.m.: Plenary Panel 2 - The Future of Sweetgrass Basketmaking (Edwards Recital Hall)

Moderator: Dale Rosengarten, Curator and historian, Special Collections, College of Charleston
Nakia Wigfall, Sweetgrass basket maker and resident of Six-Mile Community, world traveler with Gullah Connection
Richard Habersham, Phillips Community Association President 
Donovan Snype, Futurist/photographer and community advocate, resident of Four-Mile
Lillie Johnson, Community Advocate, Resident of Settlement Communities in Mount Pleasant/Charleston County

Sweetgrass basket stands along Highway 17 N have been among the most recognizable landmarks of
Gullah Geechee culture for almost a century. Some of the basket makers originate in the Phillips Community,
a historic settlement of freed people dating from the 1870s. The advocacy of residents and their allies to preserve their businesses and homes in the face of a project to widen Highway 41, which intersects the neighborhood, has received national attention. In 2021, it appears that a compromise in planning was reached to spare the Phillips Community from dislocation.

This episode is just the most recent demonstration of the perseverance of sweetgrass basket sewers and preservationists. Through any number of geographic and economic disruptions, Lowcountry African American basket makers have made a way out of no way—successfully restoring sweetgrass habitats, navigating highway widening projects, and threading the needle of cultural preservation and adaptation. The panel will bring together activists from Mt. Pleasant settlement communities and sweetgrass artisans to discuss the challenges confronting the current generation of basket makers and suggest survival strategies they hope will assure the future of the art despite rampant real estate development, ecological change, and global pandemic.

12:30 - 1:45 p.m.: Lunch and Lightning Talk Screening

Gullah Geechee Cultural Conservation Project Demo
Caitlin Childers and Sue Bergeron, Coastal Carolina University

Museums as Mirrors? A Study of Black Cultural Identity in Jamaica and the United States
Jacqueline Rowe, Independent Researcher

I am currently working on a research project that is a comparative study between Black cultural identity in the United States and Jamaica. My objective is to explore the differing ways in which Black Jamaicans and Black Americans create and interact with physical representations of their pasts by conducting ethnographic fieldwork and archival research. My research project seeks to explore the similarities and differences between the two and bring light to historical silence. There is a significant gap in the historiography with a lack of research on how descendants of African slaves view themselves. While Jamaica has a robust and thriving mainstream black cultural identity, it also contains Maroon communities. I would like to examine and discover the similarities and differences in the perceived black cultural identities of individuals in both mainstream and isolated black cultures. I plan to examine the Gullah Geechee community in the US to serve as a sample of an isolated Black community in the US. I hope to discover the similarities and differences in Black cultural identity from those residing in a majority Black polity versus a minority Black polity.

Environmental Impact on Gullah Geechee Accents on Sapelo and Dafuskie Islands
Artemis Preeshl, Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework

As sea levels rise, urgent action is needed to safeguard Gullah Geechee accents. In 2019, Gullah Geechee
residents on Sapelo and Daufuskie Islands were interviewed with informed consent. Modern accent samples are compared with accents portrayed on the “Gullah Gullah Island” television program that aired from
1994-1998. While the consolidation of black residents in Hog Hollow negatively impacted the 13 communities of color in the 1930s, the Gullah-Geechee accent led to greater retention of the accent on Sapelo Island. In contrast, tourism contributed to excessively accent loss on Daufuskie Island. Sapelo and Daufuskie Islands are accessible only by ferry; therefore, these barrier island deserve protection and preservation.

2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Concurrent Workshops and Discussions

Pottery Conversations: Colonoware Past and Present (Edwards 256)

Corey Sattes, Wexler Curatorial Fellow, Drayton Hall
Jon Marcoux, Director, Clemson/College of Charleston Graduate Program in Historic Preservation

Colonoware is a form of hand-built earthenware pottery made by enslaved African and Indigenous people between the 17th and 19th centuries. This type of pottery served as daily cooking, storage, and serving vessels for many people living in colonial-period settlements and plantations in the Lowcountry. In this public-facing workshop, we invite participants to join in an open conversation addressing how these vessels may have been used in foodways, religious ceremonies, and as a marker of social identity during the colonial period. We would also like to hear participant ideas regarding the roles this form of tangible heritage might play in communities today. To aid in the conversation, we will have a sample of colonoware recovered from Drayton Hall, an archaeological site in Charleston, SC.

1526 Project: Africana Studies and the Gullah Geechee Origins of African American History and Culture (Edwards Recital Hall)

Corrie Claiborne, Associate Professor of English and American Literature, Morehouse College
Samuel Livingston, Editor and Creator of 1526 Project
Stephane Dunn, Co-Founder of Cinema, Television & Emerging Media Studies, Morehouse College
Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, Chief Historian, Preserve Black America
Ifetayo Ojelade, Psychologist and Executive Director, A Healing Paradigm

The purpose of this panel is to discuss a proposed forthcoming book: The 1526 Project: Africana Studies and the Origins of Gullah-Geechee Cultures of Resistance. The title, of course, evokes the New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project,” a special edition published in 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of the ostensible inception of African American history.

The goal of the panel and its contributors, however, is to examine the African American story through the lens of Gullah-Geechee culture and history from the moment that the first 100 enslaved Africans were brought to the shores of what would become South Carolina and Georgia, and ultimately the United States of America, in 1526. In part, the book questions accepted historiographies, particularly the construction and uses of origin narratives, be they American or African American. Framed within Africana Studies, the title troubles historiographies of African American Culture that prioritize Anglo-centric perspectives (1619) and narratives that erase the fact that the first act of African enslavement in North America ended in a successful rebellion. The writers of The 1526 Project examine the reciprocal relationship between African resistance against slavery, African linguistic and cultural resilience, and the efflorescence of Gullah Geechee society and cultural production as the framing generative context for African American society. The purpose of this panel discussion is to talk about the ideas that lead to the generation of this forthcoming edited collection and to explore, more fully, the founding and cultural development not of America, but of African America.

3:30 - 4 p.m.: Break

4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Concurrent Workshops and Discussions

Cultural Preservation and Revitalization through Withinifrication (Edwards Recital Hall)

Ennis Davis, AICP, Senior Planner, Alfred Benesch & Company and Consultant Project Manager, Florida Department of Transportation, District Five Planning & Environmental Management Office (PLEMO)
Adrienne Burke, AICP, Esq. Principal Planner, Miami-Dade County
Theodore Johnson, NPS community engagement specialist
Tia Keitt, AICP, planner
Wren Ruiz, RLA, landscape architect and planner
Leevon White, resident of Cosmo community

Many communities are looking for solutions to combat gentrification – the influx of new money into neighborhoods that often causes displacement of existing residents. One emerging strategy is “withintrification,” where the changes and investment are driven by the current residents instead of outside developers and politicians. Could this approach work in your community? Using Jacksonville’s neighborhood as the backdrop, this session will explore how the emerging community-driven strategy of withintrification can be applied to our historic communities through community-engaged practitioners, conversations, organizing, historic preservation, and land use strategies.

Listening to Silences: Digitally Enhancing the Visibility of Enslaved Persons in South Carolina’s Historic Record (Edwards 256)

Virginia Ellison, Vice President of Collections, South Carolina Historical Society

In 2018, the society began digitizing selected materials for the Listening to Silences: Digitally Enhancing the Visibility of Enslaved Persons in South Carolina’s Historic Record project funded by the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, an appropriation from the South Carolina State Legislature, Coastal Carolina University, the Post & Courier Foundation, and Ms. Becky Hollingsworth.

The collections identified for this project date from as early as 1708 and contain evidence of the lives and experiences enslaved persons in South Carolina. The items include bills of sale, plantation ledger lists, and account books, which have proven essential in genealogical research for African American families. Other sources provide insight into the material and living conditions, medical treatment, provisions, religious
practices, culture, “hiring out,” and manumission of enslaved persons in South Carolina, as well as the
interactions and lives of freedmen following the American Civil War. Over the course of this project, the SCHS will continue to digitize, describe, and provide online access to roughly 8,000 pages of eighteenth
and nineteenth-century manuscripts materials that bear witness to the experiences of enslaved persons
in South Carolina that will ultimately be available through the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital
Library (LCDL). This presentation will provide an overview of the project, how to access these materials online and in person, and the scope of the materials digitized in this project.


6:30 - 8 p.m.: Friday Evening Reception and Creative Workshop

Join us for a dinner provided by Jennie Mae’s catering and a crafting workshop for reflections throughout the day, facilitated by artists and Joyner Institute team members Zenobia Harper and Ashlyn Pope. The workshop will serve as a preview for some of tomorrow’s block print and identity crafting. We will discuss where we have been, what we have learned, and where we can grow.


SATURDAY, Historic Downtown Conway 

Some events and panels will be live-streamed for more information, check gullahgeecheeday.com. Virtual registrants will be able to view all streams. 

Horry County Museum Auditorium

10 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies, Horry County Museum

10:30 a.m.: State of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

Victoria Smalls, Executive Director, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

Join Victoria Smalls as she discusses the state of affairs with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor with commissioners, both virtually and in person.

11 a.m.: Dennis McNett, Visiting Artist on Community and Student Collaboration

Dennis McNett, Artist in Residence at Coastal Carolina University

Dennis McNett, an internationally-renowned artist whose work includes masks, installations, performance pieces, sculptures, and wood carvings, will discuss his 15-day residency and conversations with Gullah Geechee artists. McNett will discuss the inspiration and influences of the work, ceremony, and memorial processional that will take place at 1 p.m. at 5th and Main. Characters include Mama Watta, vultures, and owl puppets, with performance work by local artists. Audience members will be invited to take part in the processional and offering table which will end on the Town Green at 1:30 p.m.

Learn more about Dennis McNett here >

If you are interested in participating in Dennis McNett's workshop on the Conway campus or in Georgetown, please contact Alli Crandell (acrandell@coastal.edu)

12 p.m.: Aunt Pearlie Sue Storytelling Performance

Join award-winning storyteller and Gullah cultural expert Aunt Pearlie Sue (Anita Singleton-Prather) on a journey through Gullah Geechee history and culture. Combining activism, humor, and captivating storytelling, the character of Aunt Pearlie Sue draws inspiration from across the African Diaspora and Gullah Geechee Corridor.

Aunt Pearlie Sue is the creation of Anita Singleton-Prather, a native of the Sea Islands of Beaufort, South Carolina. Based on her grandmother, Aunt Pearlie Sue's character has entertained audiences with Gullah-flavored folktales for over 20 years from the schoolhouse to the White House.

In addition to being a renowned master storyteller, Prather is an educator, historian, businesswoman, writer, singer, actress, and director/producer.  She is the founder and artistic director of the musical performance group The Gullah Kinfolk. As a storyteller and singer, Prather has performed at many festivals, the Beaufort Gullah Festival, Penn Heritage Days Festival, Woodlands Festival, Spoleto USA International Arts Festival in Charleston, SC, and San Francisco Festival of the Sea.

Learn more about Aunt Pearlie Sue here > 

2 p.m.: AfroLatin Dance Performance and Film Screening

Moving Spirits Dance Company

Join dance company Moving Spirits, directed by Tamara Williams, in this screening of their critcally-acclaimed dance film, ÌBÀ OBÍNRIN. ÌBÀ OBÍNRIN acknowledges the importance and influences of women in traditions in the southern corridor of the United States and around the world. The film highlights how women have traditionally and historically connected to nature to support and fortify their communities.

ÌBÀ OBÍNRIN is an investigation of the influences of ritual, nature and place in Black women’s traditional practices to care for community. The 30-minute film consists of four dancers that take the audience through a journey of movement gestures and situations that narrate how water is used to heal, elements of the earth are used to cleanse, and wind is used to transform in sacred traditions of the Black women in the south. The filming occurred in three significant places in Charlotte, NC including the Catawba River, the Big Rock Nature Preserve, and McAlpine Creek. The film featuring traditional songs and spirituals, speak to the power of water in nature and Yorùbá songs that connect the relationship of women and fresh waters.

After the screening, Moving Spirits will perform a short dance concert that will connect Latin American and African dance styles from across the African Diaspora. A Q+A will follow with the artist.

Learn more about Moving Spirits here >

3:30 p.m.: Jazz Combo Big Band Performance

CCU Music Department

4:30 p.m.: Closing Ceremonies

Join us as we hold a feedback session and meditation on the day and its future directions. 

Horry County Museum

Bruce Ingram
Bruce Ingram, Gullah Geechee Storyteller and Artist

Horry County Museum Classroom

10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.: Grant Writing Workshop

Barbara Habhegger, BBH Consulting

How can my community, organization, school or other entity get funding for worthwhile projects?  But how do I write a winning proposal? If you are new to the grant world, this presentation can get you started.

Writing a grant is all about knowing grant terminology, reading grant guidelines, and following the directions. Through an actual grant example, you will understand the application format including title, statement of purpose, vision and mission, statement of need, project design, management plan, evaluation, dissemination plan, collaboration, project personnel qualifications, budget, and sustainability. The presentation takeaway is that with these basics, you will be ready to write a winning grant.


12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.: Uncovering Porgy & Bess

Recovering Catfish Row: Toward Centering Gullah Culture in the Gershwin's and Heyward's Porgy and Bess
Andrew Kohler, Instructor of Musicology and Managing Editor of the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, University of Michigan

The question of “Who owns this?” has long loomed over Porgy and Bess, the 1935 opera about a Gullah Geechee community in a Charleston tenement called Catfish Row. The representation of marginalized
communities is always fraught, and this piece is especially contentious because it was created by outsiders—the Russian-Jewish brothers George and Ira Gershwin, and the White Charleston couple DuBose and
Dorothy Heyward. Despite ongoing debates about the work, particularly its treatment of race, there has been troublingly little focus on the Gullah people.

My presentation also evaluates Porgy and Bess in the larger context of controversies surrounding representation, focusing particularly on the discourse among Black intellectuals around the time the opera and its source materials were written. Sterling A. Brown warned against looking down on places like Catfish Row, and noted the importance of proper framing. In 1959, James Baldwin observed that what Porgy and Bess and its audiences were missing is how the story is shaped by the realities of life in the Jim Crow south. A closer examination of the score and libretto, including several revealing lines that are either cut or sanitized in most productions, reveals that thoughtful productions could make for an effective vehicle for greater understanding. As Baldwin noted, the characters “keep reminding one, most forcefully, of a real Catfish Row.”

"I Heard the Angels Singing": Documenting the Gullah Geechee People of Wadmalaw Island who Inspired Porgy & Bess
Heather Hodges, Director of Internal and External Relations, Historic New Orleans Collection

Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina is home to a community of descendants of the Gullah Geechee men and women, centered around the historic New Jerusalem AME Church, who formed the cast of a 1930s musical stage production, “Plantation Echoes.” Their powerful performance style drew the attention of legendary American composer George Gershwin and pioneering folklorist John Lomax. It formed part of the musical hearth of “Porgy & Bess” in an era when several troupes of White performers also problematically performed traditional, Gullah Geechee music on Charleston’s stages. Join us to learn how Heather used historic maps, archival recordings, cast lists, stage production notes, oral histories, A.M.E. church/cemetery records, and community historians to identify descendants, recreate, and document an influential, Gullah Geechee cultural landscape that still exists. Learn how we can strip these communities of the burden of corrosively, racist stereotypes about Gullah Geechee people and of historic presentations that reflect White nostalgia for South Carolina’s slave society.


2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Preserving the Past and Purpose of Spirituals 

Past, Purpose, and Providence: The Praise House in Gullah Geechee Communities
Kevin J. Hales, Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Missouri-Columbia

When I was a child living in New York City, I would often see my paternal grandaunt, Lillian Hales, sitting under the grape arbor adjacent to her house. She would sit under the brilliant green vines in prayerful mediation for about an hour or so each week. I later learned from her that this space was a northern replacement of the community praise house she knew in Georgetown County, South Carolina. It was at this moment that I became fascinated with the story of these oft-forgotten, but incredibly significant African American structures located in the American South. Most were constructed after the end of the Civil War in April 1865.

Although the overall story of the Black praise house has been preserved, far too few people know of their
architectural, cultural, and spiritual importance in the overall story of the American past. This is a narrative that encompasses architecture concerning the sacred, as well as the meaning of family and community. It is not the complexity of the praise house that makes it unique, but instead their past, purpose, and connection to providence. Beyond further disseminating the story of the praise house, another primary goal is to highlight the existence of those in bad repair that still stand in Lowcountry. So many of these buildings are in desperate need of major preservation efforts.

Lost in (Mis)Interpretation: Challenges to Preserving Gullah Geechee and Afro-Latin Language, Religion, and Music
Anthony Sanchez, Independent Composer, Pianist, and Musicologist

This presentation concentrates on the ethics behind past and present approaches to ethnography, ethnomusicology and archiving Gullah Geechee and Afro-Latin language, religion, and music. I provide overviews and comparisons of the Gullah Geechee Ring Shout music and religious social customs, versus Afro-Latin syncretic religious practices in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Brazil (Spiritism, Candomblé, and other variants).

This presentation also explores the ethical challenges associated with avoiding cultural exploitation and commodification, referring to research from Lydia Parish, Lorenzo Dow Turner, Fernando Ortiz, and others. I examine practical ethical approaches to correspondence emails, questionnaires, and field research transcriptions that attempt to avoid invasiveness or assumptions. I also consider the ethics behind accessing Gullah/Geechee and Afro-Latin syncretic religious music through digital means (websites, music streaming services, etc.). In accomplishing these tasks, I seek to shift focus away from rhetoric and narratives associated with romanticizing or “saving” these cultures and encourage inclusivity.


Horry County Memorial Library Classroom

Art workshops. Limited capacity. For limited advanced registration, please visit gullahgeecheeday.com

10:30 - 11:10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. - 12 p.m. | Clay Basketmaking Workshop

Ashlyn Pope, Associate Director, Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies

Make clay baskets with your own two hands! Using air-dry clay and basic clay hand-building techniques
like pinch potting and coil building, you will learn how to make a small decorative basket. Come be creative and add your own flare. We will also talk about basketry, clay, and the ways in which the basics needed for survival unite us all. Limited to 15 people per session.

12:15 - 1 p.m. | Block Printmaking Workshop

Ashlyn Pope, Associate Director, Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies

This printmaking workshop will teach you a very old printmaking technique using new age materials. Block printing is an old technique that was used to spread information and images around the globe. In this workshop, you will have an opportunity to try this technique with easily accessible and cost-efficient materials. What would you say to the world? What image would you like to share? Limited to 20 people.

2:30 - 3:10 p.m. and 3:15 - 4 p.m. | Dollmaking Workshop

Zenobia Harper, Founder, Gullah Preservation Society and Community Outreach Coordinator, Joyner Institute

Join Georgetown-based artist Zenobia Harper as she guides you through making your own traditional doll. Harper weaves through ideas of identity, culture, and tradition. Limited to 20 people per session.

Bryan House, Horry County Historical Society 

History Harvest with The Athenaeum Press

The Art of the Haitian Voodoo Altar Installation
Susan Kwosek

10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: These Stories Matter: Making Gullah Geechee Visible

Wake Work in the Lowcountry: A Theory for Making Invisible Gullah Geechee Literary Culture Visible
Raven Gadsen, Doctoral Candidate, University of South Carolina

Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being examines the ways black being and black bodies have been continually oppressed in the aftermath of American chattel slavery, what she calls being left
behind or caught up in the wake. Her analysis can be used to illuminate groups that were specifically
produced as a result of the process of enslavement, those like the Gullah Geechee of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Particularly, her work offers a way to explain why the Gullah Geechee’s literary tradition, while present, is virtually invisible, relatively ignored, and excluded by the American literary tradition evidenced
by the lack of critical conversation of published texts representative of the language, citizens, and cultural identity of the Gullah-Geechee. While the Gullah-Geechee have thrived despite being a product of the
wake, certain aspects of the culture have not had the opportunity to become as completely visible as others. The literary tradition of the Gullah-Geechee is one such aspect.

Stories Matter: Towards the Development of a Gullah Geechee Preservation Model
Shellae Versey, Social Psychologist and Gerontologist

The Gullah Geechee know survival. Now is the time to know their stories. This presentation presents an overview of Black/African American-centered cultural and heritage preservation models, exploring how best practices might inform a collaborative model of Gullah Geechee cultural preservation – led by the culture, stewarded by the culture, and sustained by the culture.

Using examples from previous projects, I examine how oral histories, participatory community mapping, placemaking efforts, and digital archives can support the preservation and celebration of the Gullah Geechee culture. In addition, I will explore how the establishment of collaborative, community-led efforts can promote empowerment and cohesiveness in the wake of competing pressures that threaten the survival of the Gullah Geechee, such as gentrification, appropriation, and displacement.

12:15 - 1:15 p.m.: Reflections of a Geechee Woman's Southern Journey: Preservation Project of Family Heirs Property over 100 Years

Sandra Lesibu, Independent Author, Spoken Word Artist, and Oral Herstorian

Lesibu is a septuagenarian, who was born into segregation in St. George, South Carolina. She spent her early childhood sheltered from the “Jim Crow Laws” with her two brothers on the family Heirs property located
in Dorchester County. In this presentation, she will present her oral history work tracing back over 100 years of the Allen-Stevens Heirs property, the work she is doing to preserve her preservation work, and share excerpts from her family’s oral history work. She will conclude with a Q+A with workshop participants.

12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. (outside on lawn): Breath and Yoga Workshop
Mandisa Armstrong, Certified Heath Holistic Coach and Yoga Instructor

1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.: Let the Ancestors Speak: Using Our Stories as a Foundation for Poetry, Prose, Screenplays, and Fiction

Stephane Dunn, Professor of Creative Writing, Morehouse College
Ifetayo Ojelade, Clinical Psychologist

This is a creative writing and publishing workshop in which Dr. Stephane Dunn will lead participants through exercises on how to bring stories from our community to life. Dr. Ifetayo Ojelade will talk about the steps of learning about our ancestors’ narratives and how we can construct collaborative projects and publications around those narratives.

3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.: Catching the Learning and Having Our Say: Septima Poinsette Clark and the Sea Island Citizenship Schools

Annette Teasdell, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Clark Atlanta University

This workshop focuses on the role Gullah Geechee women have played in community mobilization and social justice movements particularly in the Sea Islands of South Carolina. Prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, many African Americans who could not read were denied the right to vote. To qualify to vote, they were subjected to poll taxes and literacy tests. Septima Poinsette Clark and Ella Baker’s advocacy surrounding voting helped to prepare millions of African Americans to exercise their right to vote. By designing an adult education program grounded in critical literacy, and arming teachers to implement a grassroots reading program (Sea Island Citizenship Schools), they brought about significant social change. Collectively, Clark and Baker’s efforts led to voters’ rights empowerment and greater community and Civil Rights engagement. Findings indicate that the model for literacy education utilized by Clark and Baker helped mobilize African American voters. By creating a curriculum that reflected the needs and backgrounds of adult learners, this critical literacy model addressed pressing social issues in an environment where students and teachers learned from each other and helped change their communities. What are the modern implications of their work in Gullah Geechee communities? This research has implications for all learners who seek ways to make education transformative for today’s world.


City Hall Chambers (2nd Floor), City of Conway

11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.: Objects of our Ancestry

Facilitated by Corey Sattes, Wexler Curatorial Fellow, Drayton Hall

Racialized Tabletalks: Foodways, Materiality and Inscribed Discourses
Scott Alves Barton, Faculty Fellow in Race and Resilience at Notre Dame

Cookware transforms raw foodstuffs into cooked dishes, signaling the transformation of nature, clay or iron, to culture as a vessel or tool. As such these vessels can be seen to have had power or agency, best epitomized in Western epistemes via Hamlet’s three witches’ chant, “Double double toil and trouble…Fire burn and cauldron bubble,” or in the tools and vessels used in African Diaspora religions, the conjure pots: including ìgbá/assentos/ fundamentos, nganga/prenda, and the opon Ifá and iroke Ifá, (the Babalawo’s divination tray and wand). Yet, in everyday usage, the intrinsic value of culinary or tabletop vessels is based on form and function located in their utility, craft, or aesthetics and not ritual power. Customarily we critique their beauty and functionality, not their role as visual/cultural texts. This talk interrogates the semiotics of material cultural artifacts imbued in several 19th century English and Low Country vessels created by makers such as Josiah Wedgwood, Enoch Wood, and enslaved David Drake, that have a tacit racialized agency, linguistic messaging, or symbolic signs above and beyond their utilitarian functionality. Consider that a “sign” is something that stands for something else, just as seeing smoke alerts us that fire is or was present. The creation of “transferware” fostered the production and circulation of affordable ceramics sometimes enhanced with texts. Unpacking this explicit messaging included in everyday culinary material objects may refer to both explicit/implicit paradigms in need of alteration or evisceration.

Genetic Ancestry and Analysis from Hagley Plantation
Kalina Kassadjikova, Graduate student, University of California, Santa Cruz

I present here preliminary genetic data obtained from a subset of the individuals unearthed from St. Mary’s Chapel cemetery on the former Hagley Plantation, near Georgetown, SC. The work builds on the osteological assessment, reassociation, and bone functional adaptation analysis carried out by Dr. William Stevens (2016). In bioarchaeology, genetic data supplements osteological analysis in a number of ways. It can help to determine an individual’s sex, ancestral origins, and degree of relatedness to other individuals in the population. In some instances, it can help to identify living descendants and aid in the proper repatriation of unidentified human remains. The goal of this genetic analysis is to fill in as many of these gaps as we can. In this talk, I present results from the ongoing research and continue the community conversations begun at the Reinterment ceremony in May 2021.

Split Down to Timbers: How the Discovery of Shipwrecks from Black History Impacts Local Life, Memory, and Archaeology
Khamal Patterson, Cultural property attorney and researcher

In 2014, the shipwreck of the Planter was uncovered near Cape Romain between Charleston and Georgetown, South Carolina. The Planter, a Confederate schooner that was daringly and deftly commandeered by Beaufort’s Robert Smalls and a handful of fellow enslaved dock workers, was converted into a Union gunboat that Union officers allowed the skillful Smalls to captain in the first year of the Civil War. Four years later, the Clotilda, the purported last ship to carry enslaved Africans was discovered off the coast of Mobile, Alabama. Cudjo Lewis and his fellow enslaved captives on the ship would go on, fifty years later, to found the freedman community of Africatown.

Both the Planter and the Clotilda are historically significant sites, either eligible or listed on the National Register. Both provide robust examples for a lively discussion of community archaeology, control, and benefit regarding historic preservation and conservation. The Planter and Clotilda are solid exemplars of Black maritime history. This panel would look at how the National Register designation has involved or not involved stakeholders in Africatown and Robert Smalls’ legacy, and present models on how citizen-science and community archaeology can play valuable roles for private and government projects.

12:30 - 2:15 p.m.: Regional Projects Making Changes

Who can get to the water: Investigating environmental justice issues around public and private coastal infrastructure in South Carolina
Jeffrey Beauvais, Doctoral Student, Integrative Conservation and Ecology, University of Georgia

Marshes are a ubiquitous feature of coastal landscapes that are crucial for the ecological, economic, and cultural well-being of people throughout the coastal southeast. Despite the importance of marshes, it is unclear what factors drive the placement of water access infrastructure (WAI) that facilitates entry to marshes such as docks, piers, and boat landings.

In this presentation, we present a study on whether public and private WAI in South Carolina, USA is equitably distributed with respect to race and income. Using publicly available data from state agencies and the US Census Bureau, we mapped the distribution of these structures across the 301 km of the South Carolina coast. We found that areas with lower income are more likely to contain a public pier or boat landing, but racial composition has no effect. On the other hand, private docks showed the opposite trends, as the abundance of docks is significantly, positively correlated with areas that have greater percentages of White residents, while income has no effect. We contend that the racially unequal distribution of docks is likely a consequence of the legacy of Black and Gullah/Geechee land loss, especially of waterfront property, throughout the coastal southeast over the past half-century. Knowledge of racially uneven private water access can guide public policy to rectify this imbalance.

Gullah Geechee Seafood Trail
Marilyn Hemingway, Founder, and CEO, Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce

The Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce, alongside the WeGoja Foundation, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, Gullah/Geechee Nation, and Coastal Carolina University are working on the development of a Gullah Geechee Seafood Trail that focuses on the maritime heritage and foodways. Hemingway will discuss how this effort ensures that Gullah Geechee communities profit from their heritage, and how the initiative plans to pair economic opportunities with historic preservation.

Plantersville Cultural Collaborative
Ray Funnye, Director, The Village Group and Plantersville Cultural Center
Craig M. Sasser, Manager, Waccamaw National Wildlife Foundation

Funded by the Broadening Narratives initiative from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Plantersville Cultural Collective is the second phase of work on digitizing and contextualizing records and artifacts from the Plantersville and surrounding region as part of the Gullah Geechee Digital Project (below). The Joyner Institute at CCU is serving as the hub organization alongside the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, which just purchased the site of Hasty Point Plantation, and the Village Group’s Plantersville Cultural Center, which just received recognition from the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission. The grant will fund a community coordinator that will spearhead community outreach and oral history documentation, as well as the Mandala Firm’s research on possible interpretive models for the Hasty Point property, setting the stage to transform the Scenic Byway of Plantersville into an interpretive space that focuses on Gullah Geechee culture via a virtual tour and micro-interpretive sites.

North Carolina Gullah Geechee Greenway/Blueway Heritage Trail Project
Brayton Willis, Project Director

Stretching nearly 500 miles along the coast of Florida to North Carolina, the Gullah Geechee Cultural
Heritage Corridor footprint was established in 2006 by Congress as a National Historic Area so that members of the public would be encouraged to explore its culturally historic sites and celebrate the story of the Gullah Geechee people. This corridor allows local communities to preserve, protect and celebrate the Gullah Geechee heritage in a wide variety of ways. The presentation will highlight the efforts of the Brunswick County NAACP to establish a North Carolina Gullah Geechee Greenway/Blueway Heritage Trail along the west side of the Cape Fear River. Beginning in February 2020, this effort has been gaining support from local governments, private foundations, and local citizens. The new greenway/blueway footprint is roughly 30 miles long and reaches from Navassa to Southport. This preservation, protection and celebration our historical, cultural, and natural resources are foundational to the Brunswick community’s “sense of place.”

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Resiliency and Freedom

Resilient and Strong: Gullah Strategies of Reconciliation, Repair, and Healing
Charen Glasgow, Doctoral Candidate, International Conflict Management, Kennesaw State University

How do descendants of enslaved Africans in the Americas “self-repair” from slavery and its legacies of
discrimination? This presentation focuses on research collected from the Gullah Geechee (US), Merikins (T&T) and Afro-Venezuelan communities. The study’s main assumption is that descendants of enslaved Africans have employed sophisticated “self-repair” strategies in response to enslavement and ongoing discrimination, including: history-memory of tangible and intangible heritage, genealogy through community interventions to connect the dots of ancestry through names and DNA, written records, music, song, dance, arts, crafts, traditional agricultural practices, traditional medicine, food, and collaborations all work in tangent with memorials, commemorations, strong political and economic actions as strategies used by African descendants to self-repair after violence and trauma.

This presentation will also discuss methodologies that open up creative spaces for catharsis, reconciliation, healing, and transnational solidarity towards informing transitional justice policies, and community development programs for African descendants in the Americas.

Black Freedom Struggles and the Gullah Geechee Corridor: A Place of Settlement
Latif A. Tarik, Assistant Professor of History, Elizabeth State University

My discussion will focus on the recent publication (Kendall Hunt, 2021) Black Freedom Struggles: Africana Reader which is a testament to Black excellence throughout the Africana world. The focus of Black Freedom Struggles is not to dwell on the oppression of Black people. The purpose is to show Black agency and teach common struggle. The Africana world witnessed some of the best leadership often developed at the community level. The development of Black Freedom Struggles incorporates the “Horne’s Thesis” named after Gerald Horne a prolific African diaspora scholar who methodology and scholarship challenge scholars to expand the capacity of their historiography to account for the complexity, magnitude, range, and tenacity of Black identity, cultural formation, and political engagement. Concepts such as African diaspora, transAfricanism, the Black Atlantic, and Pan-Africanism, will help students learn and explore strategies to learn about Africa and the African diaspora. This will allow students to understand how the concepts used in the reader are pertinent to historical study, examining Africa, and the diaspora current relationship to the global Black world. I will discuss Section I: Origins of Black Freedom Struggles which focuses on all Black settlements as communities of cultural enclaves, self-preservation, heritage, freedom, and culture. I will compare and contrast Black settlements in relationship to the Gullah Geechee Corridor and the African Diaspora.

The Hut, First United Methodist

We pay tribute to the immense work of Betsy Newman, SCETV documentary producer. Her work has brought significant attention to the culture and issues facing the Waccamaw Neck and Grand Strand.

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. | Saving Sandy Island Screening

Saving Sandy Island (2006) is a documentary about the struggle to save an exceptional South Carolina island and its Gullah community from development. Home to endangered species and rare long leaf pine forests, Sandy Island is the largest undeveloped freshwater island on the east coast. The program tells the story of the unique coalition of conservationists, state agencies, businessmen and community residents that came together to save this extraordinary place and preserve a historic culture. 

11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Singer-Songwriter Dani Gainey

12:30 - 1 p.m.  | Between the Waters Documentary Screening

Between the Waters (2017) is a 30-minute broadcast of an immersive transmedia documentary that introduces the historic Hobcaw Barony historic site to a worldwide audience. By telling the story of Hobcaw Barony in a compelling, concise half-hour, the Between the Waters documentary takes a deeper look at the Native American and African American history of Hobcaw as well as the history of environmental conservation at Hobcaw.

Visit the immersive documentary here > 

2 - 2:30 p.m. | Charlie's Place Documentary Screening

Charlie’s Place (2018) tells the story of an African American nightclub in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that was a significant stop on the Chitlin’ Circuit in the segregated South. The owner, Charlie Fitzgerald, welcomed blacks and whites to his club. From the 1930s to the 1960s, many of the greatest black musicians played there, including Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown and Little Richard. In 1950 Charlie’s Place was attacked by the Ku Klux Klan and Charlie Fitzgerald was beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. Charlie’s Place closed in 1965, but today it is the center of efforts to revitalize the neighborhood. Charlie’s Place remains an important example of racial diversity and black entrepreneurship, and a symbol of hope for the City of Myrtle Beach.

2:30 p.m. | Q+A with Betsy Newman, Documentary Producer

After the screening of Saving Sandy Island (2006), Between the Waters (2017), Charlie’s Place (2018), and Gullah Roots (2020), join Besty Newman, the films' producer, to talk about her connection with this region, as well as collaborating with communities to tell their stories.

3 - 4 p.m. | Gullah Roots Documentary Screening

Part of SCETV’s Carolina Stories series, Gullah Roots (2020) dives deep into South Carolina’s ties with West Africa, educating viewers about Gullah heritage, including spiritual, musical and artistic traditions. A sequel to SCETV’s 1990 documentary Family Across the Sea, this project was produced by Betsy Newman and Xavier Blake, and directed, written and edited by Newman. The film aims to raise awareness about the Gullah Geechee community and its ties to West Africa. It also examines the challenges many in that community face today and the progress they have made since the first homecoming to Sierra Leone 30 years ago.


Conway Visitor's Center, Fifth and Main

Vendor and Craft Market (see the complete listing of vendors

Town Green (Laurel St.)

11 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Food Trucks and Chef Cooking Demonstrations

Latanya Allen of Tastee Treats, Austin Jefferson of Jennie Mae's, Laura Herriott of Wilma's Cottage, and Kamal Fraser of Caribbean Jerk

Food Trucks and Vendors: see our updated list here

11 am: AfroLatin Dance Workshop with Moving Spirits Dance Company

Before their afternoon performance, join Moving Spirits of an all-levels workshop to teach the basics of dance through the African Diaspora.

1:30 p.m.: Processional Arrival and Ceremony

At the end of the processional with the puppets and collaborative elements created by Dennis McNett, CCU students, and community members, participate in this brief ceremony dedicated to the breath, water, and all things folklore.

Learn more about Dennis McNett here >

If you are interested in participating in Dennis McNett's workshop on the Conway campus or in Georgetown, please contact Alli Crandell (acrandell@coastal.edu)

2 p.m.: R&B Performance, CCU Music Department 

Learn more about the Conference