Shadows of the Gullah – by Pete Marovich

Eddie Grant

Hilton Head Native Islander Eddie Grant reflects on the encroaching development as he works the garden behind his mother’s home. New town homes are being built right up to her property line.

DC-based photographer Pete Marovich has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to fund the completion of his ongoing project about the Gullah/Geechee people of the Sea Islands.

The Gullah people are direct decedents of slaves who were brought to the islands from West Africa. After arriving in America, the Gullah created their own community steeped in religion and African traditions. They are known as Gullah in North and South Carolina and Geechee in Georgia and Florida.

When slavery was abolished in 1863, the Gullah people of the Sea Islands remained on the land after slave owners abandoned the area. They continued their traditions – making sea grass baskets, burying their dead by the shore, farming vegetables and fruits and living life simply. Having lived this way for decades, the Gullah are believed to be one of the most authentic African American communities in the United States.

But development is now taking over these once isolated lands and consuming the Gullah way of life.

The Gullah/Geechee Coast extends for hundreds of miles between Cape Fear, N.C., and the St. Johns River in Florida. In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Gullah/Geechee Coast one of the 11 most endangered placed in the United States. “Unless something is done to halt the destruction, [the] Gullah/Geechee culture will be relegated to museums and history books, and our nation’s unique cultural mosaic will lose on of its richest and most colorful pieces,” states the National Trust Website.

Read more and help Pete fund his project on his Kickstarter page.

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