Black beach

This sweet grass basket was purchased from a Gullah basket weaver in Beaufort, S.C. while traveling in the area. South Carolina’s Highway 17 is lined with Gullah craft maker sales booths on either side of the road for miles when coming up on Mt. Pleasant. Best to roll that way in June when all the booths are staffed with eager craft makers.

sweet grass basket weaver
sweetgrass basket made in Beaufort, S.C.

Hurricane Florence gave the Gullah people a gift this year and I am so relieved! They cared less about potential storm impact than I did way up here in Boston away from the madness.  Yeah, one of the community leaders told the New York Times reporter, FLORENCE is not a worry.

The eye of the storm hit land higher up on the coast.  Read on to learn more about the Gullah and beaches held by African Americans in the low country.

The Gullah  people didn’t leave the South Carolina’s coast as warnings of the hurricane Florence threat was blasted into their communities. They had no plans to go anywhere because they believed leaving their land could put it at the risk of losing it to government supported development interests. Freed, once enslaved Africans owned most of this land facing the ocean in South Carolina through Georgia and further south, an  area that was not at all desirable by whites. They became known as Gullah people.

Plantation owners had land and slaves in the area but they fled the  properties after the South lost the Civil War. Some of the land was legally left to slaves who became free.  If you were around in the late 1800s when the “40 acres and a mule” open call when out, this is where you would have had to go to get it. After the war, the African descendants were  the dominant population living in Hilton Head, S.C.  before the 1950’s.

 Gullah beliefs and lifestyle practices have always been harmony with mother nature. They understand the give and take Florence-like hurricans have on their land and all had been well before corrupt developers, assisted by corrupt government officials, began taking land and using bulldozers to develop it.

The process changed the  environment over the years. Development weakened the resilience of the Gullah’s area to sustain hurricanes and support the lifestyles they enjoy.  Gullah people believed that the white man was always trying to get their land back, and evacuating for a  hurricane was just another trick they tried.

Gullah people have land holdings stretching down the coastal region known as low country Charleston, S.C. to Georgia and beyond. There are hundreds of Gullah inhabited islands in the area. One is Pinpoint, Ga., the birthplace of conservative African American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He’s proud of being from Pinpoint, He says the “urban renewal” pioneers screwed the town all up. This is exactly what Gullah fear will happen if they give up another inch of territory.



Black Beaches
Black Beach history in the South