April 22 – 7 p.m.
Gothic Reading Room, Perkins Library
Ron Daise – Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Commission Chairman
The public is invited to attend the Gullah Geechee Gala, presented by the B.N. Duke Scholars. Duke University is hosting a game show to kick off a summer program in which scholars from the Carolinas will live and work with Gullah Geechee community groups in Conway, S.C.
Ron Daise, chairman of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission and former host of the “Gullah Gullah Island” Nickelodeon television program, will host the game show, “Gullah Geechee-mania!” He also will deliver the keynote speech at the kickoff gala for the new partnership between the Benjamin N. Duke Scholars and the Gullah Geechee community. Daise is a writer, performing artist and educator who has authored five books on Gullah Geechee heritage.
The celebration begins at 7 p.m. Monday, April 22, in the Gothic Reading Room on the 2nd floor of Perkins Library on the Duke campus. The public is invited to attend and take part in the interactive event.
Designated by Congress in 2006, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is home to one of America’s most distinctive cultures. The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans who retained many aspects of their African heritage.
The location of their sea islands, combined with their strong sense of place and family, helped keep intact the unique culture, arts and Creole language of their region, which extends from Wilmington, N.C. to St. Augustine, Fla. The corridor is administered by the National Park Service.
“Participants may discover they know more about the topic than they have given themselves credit for,” Daise said. “Nonetheless, they will realize how greatly Gullah Geechee culture has impacted the American cultural landscape.”
The 14 Duke students participating in the Carolina Summer of Service project are all B.N. Duke Scholars, selected competitively from the two states to attend Duke with full scholarships. During the summer they will assist community members in researching and documenting Gullah Geechee history and culture. Each student scholar will also work with community organizations on individual projects ranging from public policy to education or health. The students are currently enrolled in a Gullah Geechee heritage “house course” at Duke taught by Charlie Thompson, their program’s faculty director.
The gala event is co-sponsored by a number of Duke offices, including African & African-American Studies, Duke Engage, Franklin Humanities Institute, Cultural Anthropology, Center for African and African-American Research, Durham Regional Affairs, English, Hart Leadership Program, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke Development, and Office of the Provost.
Top Photo Editorial Note: Net maker, Charles “CC” Williams, Jr. – Awandaw, S.C. (Photo credit: Diedra Laird, Charlotte Observer)