The Daniel Island Historical Society will pay tribute to the Lowcountry’s Gullah culture at its 2nd Annual “Live Oak Lights: Illuminating Our Heritage” event on Sunday, April 24, 2016. More than a dozen artisans, speakers, vendors and other contributors will be on hand for the free, family-friendly festival to be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “under the oaks” at Daniel Island Children’s Park, located at 101 River Landing Drive on the banks of the Wando River.
“In planning this year’s event, we really wanted to focus on the amazing Gullah history in our area,” said DIHS President Brenda Thorn, “from the inspiring music of the Gullah people, to the stories they passed down from generation to generation, to the beautiful craftsmanship displayed in their works. We are thrilled to be able to shine an important light on their valuable contributions, way of life, and lasting legacy in the Lowcountry.”
The Gullah people were brought to the United States nearly 400 years ago as enslaved Africans to work in areas along the eastern coast, including South Carolina. According
to U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (SC), who authored legislation to establish the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, the stories and traditions of the Gullah culture have been slowing slipping away over time. On the Gullah Geechee Corridor website,Clyburn writes that “Small enclaves of ‘Gullah,’ in the Carolinas, and ‘Geechee,’ in Georgia and Florida, remain. There you find houses trimmed in indigo, which were — and may still be — believed to ward off evil spirits. There you hear talk of life before the ’cumyas,’ those who are recent arrivals to the area and the problems brought by the ‘benyas,’ those whose roots can be traced back to plantation life. There you listen to traditional spirituals like ‘Kumbaya’ (come by here) that most Christians today continue to sing, although often in more familiar dialect. There you watch nimble hands weave gorgeous sweet grass baskets with a skill that has been handed down for generations. There you can enjoy the aroma and tastes of ‘hoppin’ john,” sweet potato pie, or benne wafers, all Gullah/Geechee specialties that have found their way into our modern culture.”
The upcoming Daniel Island Historical Society event will present a wide array of activities celebrating Gullah customs and contributions, including ironworks demonstrations by the Philip Simmons Foundation (4 to 7 pm); music and storytelling by The Plantation Singers (6 to 7 pm); “Crossing the Rivers” history walks led by local author Herb Frazier (4:15 and 5:15 pm); Gullah cuisine by Cainhoy Chef B.J. Dennis (fee, 4 to 7 pm); rag quilting and doll-making by Sharon Cooper Murray (4 to 7 pm); “History and Haikus” poetry workshop for ages 8 and up, led by author Crystal Klimavicz (3:15, 3:35, and 3:55 pm); arts and crafts for kids by the Academy of Rightbrain Technology (4 to 7 pm); Gullah fashions presented by Cainhoy Seamstress Janet Wright of Clements Ferry Alterations (5:15 pm); burial customs and home-going practices of the Gullah people by Veronica Gerald (4 to 7 pm); a drumline performance by The Music Battery (4:30 pm); and an “Art in the Park” session for artists of all ages to create their own renditions of the surrounding Live Oaks (3 to 6 pm). In addition, a variety of artisans will offer items for purchase.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to adopt a Live Oak as part of the DIHS Live Oak Campaign. Daniel Island residents and business owners are invited to light up the Live Oaks on their properties on the evening of April 24 in celebration of the island’s Gullah heritage. For additional information on all of the day’s events, visit https://dihistoricalsociety.com/live-oak-lights-illuminating-daniel-island-history/.
“An Evening with Jonathan Green”
Also on April 24, as part of the “Live Oak Lights” festivities, DIHS will present “An Evening with Jonathan Green” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Daniel Island Real Estate Sales Center. Green, an internationally acclaimed Gullah-inspired artist, Chairman of the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, and Visual Designer of the 2016 Spoleto production of “Porgy and Bess,” will share his knowledge of the Gullah culture and how it is inexplicably woven into life in the Lowcountry. Joining Green for the program will be Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, founder of the annual Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival and supporter of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. The ticketed reception will feature hors d’oeuvres by A Southern Affair Events & Catering, beverages, prize drawings, and live musical entertainment by The Plantation Singers and Black Tie Music Academy. Reception guests will be the first to have an opportunity to purchase a signed or unsigned limited edition print of Green’s Rice Plantation, created especially for this occasion and one of only a select few in his acclaimed “Rice Harvest” series to be offered as a poster print. A limited number of tickets are available for this event at a cost of $25 per person. For additional information, visit https://dihistoricalsociety.com/an-evening-with-jonathan-green/.
“Live Oak Lights: Illuminating Our Heritage” sponsors and supporters include the Daniel Island Community Fund, Jonathan Green & Friends, Absolutely Charleston, Event Partners, Inc., Daniel Island Real Estate, Island Expressions, A Southern Affair Events & Catering, Qwik Pack & Ship, and South Carolina Humanities, a not-for-profit organization inspiring, engaging and enriching South Carolinians with programs on literature, history, culture and heritage.