Gullah Geechee people are direct descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the United States to work in the rice, indigo and cotton plantations along the North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coast of the 18th and 19thCentury. Gullah Geechee is a term that refers both to the language and the ethnic identity that evolved in these enslaved African communities. Their internment melded diverse African customs with enforced European constraints to create a unique, isolated culture that has endured through history. According to a National Park Service report, Gullah Geechee people are the only population of African Americans in the United States with a longstanding name identifying them as a separate people and the only speakers of a true African American creole language of the continental United States. Those customs, traditions, and beliefs, grounded in West African roots, are a cultural treasure, a major contributor to America’s framework.
Unfortunately, from development pressure and climate impacts that threaten communities intact since the end of the Civil War, to the loss of cultural arts, traditions, and oral histories no longer passed down through the generations, Gullah Geechee may be lost to the next generation.
The Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is committed to the preservation and perpetuation of Gullah Geechee heritage, culture, and communities that are central to the American story. We provide general operating and project support to organizations working in Gullah Geechee communities in our three program areas – land conservation, artistic vitality, and cultural preservation through broadening narratives. In addition, we convene and collaborate with other philanthropic partners to address funding needs and provide communications and advocacy support to elevate the rich culture and history of the region.
For more information about our program work in Gullah Geechee communities, contact Kerri Forrest, Lowcountry Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.