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A wooden pestle and mortar found in the rice loft on Briars Plantation, John's Island (Charleston County), South Carolina. It is believed to have been used in husking and/or polishing rice which was grown on the plantation. The age is unknown.

The Gullah portal

A Gullah woman making a sweetgrass basket in Charleston's City market.

The Gullah (/ˈɡʌlə/) are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. They developed a creole language, the Gullah language, and a culture rich in African influences that makes them distinctive among African Americans.

Historically, the Gullah region extended from the Cape Fear area on North Carolina's coast south to the vicinity of Jacksonville on Florida's coast. Today, the Gullah area is confined to the Georgia and South Carolina Lowcountry. The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee, which may be derived from the name of the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia. Gullah is a term that was originally used to designate the creole dialect of English spoken by Gullah and Geechee people. Over time, its speakers have used this term to formally refer to their creole language and distinctive ethnic identity as a people. The Georgia communities are distinguished by identifying as either "Freshwater Geechee" or "Saltwater Geechee", depending on whether they live on the mainland or the Sea Islands.

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Hoodoo is a traditional black American folk spirituality that developed from a number of West African spiritual traditions and beliefs. Hoodoo is a mixture of various African religious practices created by enslaved Africans in the New World. These religious practices were held in secret away from white slave owners. Following the Great Migration, hoodoo practice spread throughout the United States.


Selected biography

Denmark Vesey memorial in Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina.

Credit: ProfReader
Denmark Vesey memorial in Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina

Denmark Vesey (also Telemaque) (c.1767 — July 2, 1822) was a literate, skilled carpenter and leader among African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. He was accused and convicted of being the ringleader of "the rising," a major potential slave revolt planned for the city in June 1822; he was executed.

Likely born into slavery in St. Thomas, he served a master in Bermuda for some time before being brought to Charleston, where he gained his freedom. Vesey won a lottery and purchased his freedom around the age of 32. He had a good business and a family, but was unable to buy his first wife Beck and their children out of slavery. Vesey became active in the Second Presbyterian Church; in 1818 he was among the founders of an independent African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in the city, which had the support of white clergy. It rapidly attracted 1,848 members, making this the second-largest AME congregation in the nation after Mother Bethel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1822 Vesey was alleged to be the ringleader of a planned slave revolt. Vesey and his followers were said to be planning to kill slaveholders in Charleston, liberate the slaves, and sail to the black republic of Haiti for refuge. By some accounts, it would have involved thousands of slaves in the city and others on plantations miles away. City officials had a militia arrest the plot's leaders and many suspected followers in June before the rising could begin. Not one white person was killed or injured.

Vesey and five slaves were among the first group of men rapidly judged guilty by the secret proceedings of a city-appointed Court and condemned to death; they were executed by hanging on July 2, 1822. Vesey was about 55 years old. In later proceedings, some 30 additional followers were executed. His son was also judged guilty of conspiracy and was deported from the United States, along with many others. The church was destroyed and its minister expelled from the city.


History and Culture

A 1930 post card showing moonlight on Dunbar River, Glynn Haven, St. Simons Island, Georgia

Igbo Landing (alternatively written as Ibo Landing, Ebo Landing, or Ebos Landing) is a historic site at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia. It was the setting of a mass suicide in 1803 by captive Igbo people who had taken control of their slave ship and refused to submit to slavery in the United States. The event's moral value as a story of resistance towards slavery has symbolic importance in African American folklore and literary history.

See also

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Films and TV

Conrack (1974)  • A Soldier's Story (1984)  • Gullah Tales (1988)  • Glory (1989)  • Family Across the Sea (1990)  • When Rice Was King (1990)]  • Daughters of the Dust (1991)  • Home Across the Water (1992)  • Gullah Gullah Island (1994 - 1998)  • God's Gonna Trouble the Water (1997)  • The Language You Cry In (1998)  • The Patriot (2000)  • Bin Yah: There's No Place Like Home (2008)


Did you know...

  • ...that the Gullah people are a subgroup of the larger African American ethnic group of the United States?
  • ...that the Gullah people are one of few African American groups that have managed to preserve much of their African culture, thereby making them distinct from other African Americans?
  • ...that the Gullah have their own language?
  • ...that America's former First Lady Michelle Obama is part Gullah through her father?
  • ...that some major African American historical figures such as Denmark Vesey and Gullah Jack who revolted against slavery where of Gullah heritage?


Gullah is a unique Creole language, richer in linguistic survivals than any in-land [U.S] black speech.

Pollitzer, William S.,
The Gullah People and Their African Heritage, (contributor: Moltke-Hansen, David), University of Georgia Press (2005), p. 125, ISBN 9780820327839 [1]

We are about to develop a better understanding of the Gullah people, considered by many experts to be African Americans in the truest sense of the term.

Seikyo Times, Issues 390-413.
Contributor: Nichiren Shosu of America, NSA Publications Department (1994), p. 95

Anyone interested in the Gullah must ask how they have managed to keep their special identity and so much more of their African cultural heritage than any other group of Black Americans. The answer is to be found in the warm, semitropical climate of coastal South Carolina and Georgia; in the system of rice agriculture adopted there in the 1700s; and in a disease environment imported unintentionally from Africa. These factors combined almost three hundred years ago to produce an atmosphere of geographical and social isolation among the Gullah which has lasted, to some extent, up until the present day.

Opala, Joseph A.
The Gullah: Rice, slavery and the Sierra Leone-American connection"Origin of the Gullah," [in] Yale, (PDF) p. 1 [2]

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