Depths of The Gullah Geechee Culture in Myrtle Beach

Depths of The Gullah Geechee Culture in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is famous for its beautiful coastline, sandy beaches, and lively culture. A vibrant city and a favorite for beach lovers, it attracts millions of visitors each year. Amusement parks and seafood restaurants line its avenues, while watersports and peaceful walks take place along the famous boardwalk.

However, there is more to Myrtle Beach than beaches and tourist locations. It is also a region with a fascinating history and culture, and the Gullah Geechee people are at the heart of it. The community’s African heritage has withstood the test of time along the coastal South. Let’s explore the depths of the Gullah Geechee culture in Myrtle Beach. Discover their history, honor their cultural influence, and learn about their impact on this beach town.

The Gullah Geechee People: Roots and Identity

The Gullah Geechee people came to the Southeastern United States during the transatlantic slave trade. They settled in coastal and island communities from North Carolina all the way to Florida. These communities maintain a unique culture, keeping strong ties to their African heritage despite challenges and isolation.

Gullah Language

Central to their identity is the Gullah language, a Creole dialect that emerged during enslavement. They show their strength by using this beautiful mix of English and African languages. It serves both as communication and as a living link to their rich ancestral past.

Gullah Geechee Arts & Crafts

At the core of Gullah Geechee culture is a collection of traditional arts and crafts, including sweetgrass basket weaving. For many years, people have used sweetgrass to make beautiful baskets in memory of their African ancestors. Beyond this tactile art, music, dance, and storytelling form the soulful backdrop of Gullah Geechee’s life. These colorful expressions entertain, unite the community, and teach history and life lessons. Each melody, each dance step, and every tale told under the moonlit sky is a vibrant string plucked in the Gullah Geechee heritage. 

Gullah Cuisine and Culinary Influence

Gullah cuisine played a pivotal role in the culinary landscape of the South. It’s a cuisine that sings of its African roots, harmonizing them with the bounty available in the coastal Lowcountry. Gullah cooking uses local ingredients to make signature dishes, such as shrimp and grits. Their diet transformed into an array of rich and flavorful dishes now called Soul Food, which carries the essence of Gullah history and tradition. Their culinary heritage has influenced Southern cooking as a whole, bringing African vegetables and grains to the region. Gullah dishes are stories on a plate, narrating a legacy of resilience and creativity.

Gullah Geechee in Myrtle Beach Today

Today, Myrtle Beach is a keeper of the Gullah Geechee culture, preserving and celebrating its heritage. This enduring legacy is evident in various locations and events throughout the city that offer a window into the Gullah Geechee way of life. The combined efforts of organizations, cultural centers, museums, and the daily practices of the Gullah Geechee people serve to preserve, educate, and celebrate this unique and rich cultural heritage in Myrtle Beach and beyond.

Original Gullah Festival

The Original Gullah Festival is an annual event. It lets you experience the Gullah Geechee culture through music, dance, and food. You can also take educational tours of historic sites and communities. 

Gullah Geechee Cultural Community Trust

Several groups and initiatives work tirelessly to preserve and celebrate their rich heritage in the Gullah Geechee community. The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Community Trust Inc. (GGCCT) is a key nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining Gullah/Geechee culture through economic, educational, and environmental initiatives within the federally designated national heritage area of the U.S. Southeastern Sea Islands​​.

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens, a lush outdoor museum, is a vital center for the Gullah Geechee culture in Myrtle Beach. It hosts the Gullah Geechee Program Series, offering educational workshops and storytelling sessions that delve into the history and traditions of the Gullah Geechee people. These programs, led by experts like Ron Daise, Vice President for Creative Education at Brookgreen, provide insights into the Gullah Geechee people’s language, culture, and history​​​​.

Georgetown Gullah Museum

The Gullah Museum in Georgetown is another significant institution that aids in educating and preserving the Gullah Geechee culture. It features traditional clothing, tools, and exhibits that narrate the historical journey of the Gullah Geechee people, helping visitors understand their lasting impact on the culture of the American Southeast​​.

The Role of Tourism

Tourism plays an important role in preserving Gullah Geechee culture in Myrtle Beach. It brings a much-needed spotlight, encouraging investment in cultural sites and events. Visitors are encouraged to engage with local guides and take part in cultural tours for the most authentic experience. This respectful and enriching interaction fosters insightful perspectives. Buying crafts from Gullah artisans and attending cultural events also supports the community and ensures a more profound experience.

Conclusion

Let’s recap our journey through the Gullah Geechee culture in Myrtle Beach. The Gullah Geechee people still have a strong connection to Africa, though they have faced many challenges with determination. They express their culture through their creole language, crafts like sweetgrass basket-weaving, soulful music, and even more soulful food. Today, the Gullah Geechee culture has become an important part of the Southern United States. 

Myrtle Beach preserves and celebrates the Gullah Geechee culture through museums, festivals, and community initiatives dedicated to this heritage. Tourism can help support these efforts. Your trip to Myrtle Beach not only provides a way to experience and appreciate this vibrant culture but also serves to support it. You’re encouraged not only to bask in the sun-soaked beauty of Myrtle Beach but also to delve deeper into its cultural landscape. Come and experience the Gullah Geechee culture for yourself. It reveals the layers of history and humanity that make Myrtle Beach unique.

Will Smith

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