Saturday, July 6, 2013

NC Ritz Cracker Verne Strickland wants to join proud black Gullah Geechees.


By Verne Strickland /  Wilmington NC  July 6, 2013
Conservative Christian blogger, Right Side Media Productions & USA DOT COM

I'm a product of the South. Native to Eastern North Carolina, which in the history books, and in my memory, was once a largely agrarian area. I might add that there were also a lot of farms there. Now rural industrialization is changing the economies of the region.

In the summers my parents liked to vacation on the South Atlantic Coast, and sometimes we would go to to South Carolina, where the renowned Myrtle Beach Grand Strand is located, as well as the storied City of Charleston.

My two brothers and I at the time were wee lads, but even then I was a budding history buff. I was entranced by stories of the "Gullah Geechee", a culture of African Americans, which for generations has lived in "the corridor" --  a string of small  isolated coastal barrier island communities, all-black and proud but often impoverished until federal programs intervened only recently.

Note: Gullah Geechee is properly pronounced "Gullah Geechee".

As we neared Charleston, traveling south on U.S. Highway 17, we began to see the first signs of Gullah Geechee people, who erected rickety roadside stands where they sold trademark "sweetgrass baskets" -- simple or elaborate hand-woven creations popular with travelers. They are still there. The products and the people are still popular with the tourists.

I picked up some fascinating background of the Gullah Geechee (or Geechee Gullah) culture from Wikipedia, and the Folk Section of a source called the New Georgia Encyclopedia:


The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida, in the south. The National Heritage Area includes roughly 80 barrier islands and continues inland to adjacent coastal counties, defining a region 30 miles inland throughout the United States Low Country.  The cultures represent the many ways that Africans in the Americas maintained their homeland roots while simultaneously assimilating aspects of new cultures they encountered during and after enslavement.
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is managed by a federal commission made up of local representatives who collaborate with the National Park Service, Community Partners, grass root organizations and the State historic preservation offices of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Through research, education and interpretation, the corridor aims to preserve and raise awareness regarding the Gullah/Geechee, among America’s least-known and most unique cultures. Visitors to the southeastern coast of the country have the chance to experience Gullah/Geechee heritage through historic sites, local tours, traditional foods, cultural events, and art galleries.

The Gullah/Geechee are the speakers of the only African American Creole language that developed in the United States – one that combines elements of English and over 30 African dialects.

The Gullahs have struggled to preserve their traditional culture. In 1979, a translation of the New Testament in the Gullah language began.[citation needed] The American Bible Society published De Nyew Testament in 2005. In November 2011, Healin fa de Soul, a five-CD collection of readings from the Gullah Bible was released.[citation needed] This collection includes Scipcha Wa De Bring Healing ("Scripture That Heals") and the Gospel of John (De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa John Write). This was also the most extensive collection of Gullah recordings, surpassing those of Lorenzo Dow Turner. The recordings help people develop an interest in the culture because people might not have known how to pronounce some words.[9]

Photograph by Althea SumpterThe Gullahs achieved another victory in 2006 when the U.S. Congress passed the "Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Act" that provides $10 million over 10 years for the preservation and interpretation of historic sites relating to Gullah culture.[10] The Heritage Corridor will extend from southern North Carolina to northern Florida. The project will be administered by the US National Park Service with extensive consultation with the Gullah community.

* The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Management Plan has been approved by the U.S. Interior Department, clearing the way for implementation of projects and programs.
Star-News Wilmington NC) May 13, 2013.


The Gullah Geechee culture, while admittedly in need, remains proud and independent at times to the point of isolation. But the new federal "Corridor" program, if administered sensitively, should provide welcome and vital assistance.

I am still seeking input on whether or not the culture will be subject to demands of the Obamacare federal boondoggle, and have placed a personal call to Mayor Eulis Willis of Navassa, NC, and an administrator of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Management organization. I will postscript my article as soon as that information is in hand.

Meantime, my guess is that these independent people will fight this "gift" tooth and nail. I hope they do. Information on the impossibly complicated plan indicates that it will be expensive beyond belief and will cause taxes to go up drastically for most who decide to take part. 

Based on this belief, I will return to the main premise of my rebellious article. If the Gullah Geechee people are able to stave off Washington, then I, Verne Strickland, a Certified Ritz Cracker, would be proud and thrilled to receive an Honorary Membership to the Order of Gullah Geechee. 

And if I get that, I'll come down and visit these wonderful Americans and do some exclusive stories on them, which will reach national audiences through Right Side Media Productions. Deal? That's a solemn pledge. God bless the Gullah Geechee.