A Message from Congress

We Must Preserve and Protect Gullah Geechee Culture

By Congressman
James E. Clyburn

HomeColumn1Image One of my proudest achievements in the Congress was authoring the legislation that established the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and created a commission to help federal, state, and local authorities manage the Corridor and its assets. It took more than seven years of work to get the bill passed into law, but today the commission is working hard on efforts to preserve and promote the nearly 400-year history of Gullah Geechee culture that is the core purpose of my initiative. The sites, sounds and tastes of Gullah Geechee culture have been slowly vanishing along the coasts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Stories and traditions of this fusion of African and European cultures brought long ago to these shores have been slipping away along with the marsh and sand that are disappearing because of the encroachment of developments and the pressures to assimilate into the "modern" world.

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 toward 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.

Read More From: Congress James E. Clyburn



Learn About Us

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (herein referred to as "the Corridor" or "Corridor") was designated by an act of Congress on October 12, 2006 (Public Law 109-338). It was authorized as part of the National Heritage Areas Act of 2006. As a national heritage area, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is not part of the national park system; however, the act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide technical and financial assistance for the development and implementation of the management plan.
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The Corridor was created to:

  1. Recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history by African Americans known as Gullah Geechee who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.

  2. Assist state and local governments and public and private entities in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida in interpreting the story of the Gullah Geechee and preserving Gullah Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music.

  3. Assist in identifying and preserving sites, historical data, artifacts, and objects associated with the Gullah Geechee for the benefit and education of the public.

The local coordinating entity legally responsible for management of the Corridor is the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission (the Commission or Commission), a federal commission. The Commission is composed of 15 members appointed by the secretary of the interior.

Read More: About Us


In The Words of:

Executive Director J. Herman Blake

Herman Blake Words

In the words of Executive Director J. Herman Blake
(June 18,2015):

CharlestonNine June2015 NewYorker

In the completely black darkness of the night and early morning, in the deep recesses of moss-laden oak trees, ponds and lagoons where our ancestors toiled for generations, we drop down—our knees to the cold floor—and we seek understanding, we seek solace, we seek a way out of this “no-way”. Our sobbing voices utter unspoken prayers as we gather in supplication to the spirits  that have brought us this far by faith.

Our hearts are broken, but we know comfort is there.

Our spirits are strong because we know guidance is there.

Our faith is triumphant because we know our beloved community is here.

“Knee-bone, knee-bone, knee-bone, Oh my Lord.”

Read More: Corridor Bulletin Board


Commission Highlights

Commission Meetings

 Saturday, May 20, 2017, 9 am,-noon, Town & Country Inn and Suites, 2008 Savannah Highway, Charleston. The public is invited to attend. 


© 2016 Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor