After Tuskegee, we roamed through Atlanta and made a pit stop in Charleston, SC on the way northward. We heard again and again that Charleston was way lit and necessitated a few days to navigate its steep history and absolute beauty. This turned out to be wholly accurate, yet unbeknownst to us, we would fall into something a tad unanticipated.
Raise your hand if you remember Gullah Gullah Island on Nickleodeon in the 90s?! #Yaaaas. I loved this show because one of the children was named Simeon, and that’s my dad’s name so obviously I thought this was the best show out there. What we didn’t know as innocents of the nineties was that the Gullah are an actual population off the shorelines of South Carolina and Georgia that formed a close community over the years and has survived everything from slavery to modern consumerist culture.
Me and Mom took in the hefty Vitamin D and meandered throughout the old avenues, watched boats rise and fall on the waves, and leered with mouths agape at the stunning coastline estates. Charleston is a college town, but as this was winter break, we were graced with the presence of less humans and overt humidity.
After our midday cafe negro and cappuccino, we walked slowly through an artisan market that was both in and outdoors. I caught the eye of an extremely dark, middle aged man sweating profusely outside, only a breath away from the air conditioning, as he was weaving a wicker basket. I asked him why he chose to sit outside and in a deep, yet energetic Southern accent he replied that his people had sat outside on the Earth and in the sun for hundreds of years … why stop now?
His people? What people?
And he went on to explain that he was Gullah —
LIKE GULLAH GULLAH ISLAND, SIR?!
Just like it 🙂 I couldn’t believe that some old kiddie show had actually, slightly portrayed this population of people in the US accurately, yet not many people even knew that that was what they’d been watching. He mentioned the history of the Gullah people in that region and how he’d commute into Charleston daily from about thirty miles away in an area where most of his kin has remained after so many years. Weaving and wicker making are two trades that he mentioned the Gullah are particularly good at and have also done for a time, some people in his town even export overseas, which I thought was pretty interesting.
I hope this post didn’t bore you, but I’m telling you, history and culture fascinate me! I love learning about the migrations of peoples and how their cultures remain or transition due to where they end up and all that. I was also humbled when I realized how little I know about the populations in the country I’ve lived in my entire life and it fostered the thought, I wonder what I don’t know.
PS. If you’re into the founding societies, then this city is your haven. If you don’t even know what these societies are … don’t you worry your little heads about it 🙂