From Gullah to genteel Savannah

Leaving Beaufort, we drove the short distance to St. Helena Island, one of the chain of sea islands that also includes Hilton Head, and the home of the Penn Center, an important site in the story of the transition from slavery to freedom.  Founded in 1862 as a school for the black community, Penn Center became important in the Civil Rights movement.  One of the few places in the south where bi-racial groups could gather, it became a kind of Camp David for Martin Luther King, Jr. as he planned the March on Washington and other key initiatives.

Descendants of slaves, the Gullah who inhabited this once-remote location speak an English-based creole language, and have a distinctive culture that can still be seen, heard and eaten.  Here are shots of the Penn Center campus and a local eatery.

Then for a total change of pace,  we drove to Savannah, which is a most genteel Southern city.  We ended the afternoon with a carriage ride through the historic district, combined with a tour of the Telfair Museums – both modern and old.  Catch the shot of Paula Deen’s restaurant – packed to the gills. The atmosphere here is quite special – gracious, relaxed, but with just a touch of the ominous lent by the Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks.  More to see today.

4 thoughts on “From Gullah to genteel Savannah

  1. We will have to watch that. But having seen other reflections of the Gullah culture, I must say it is strange to be there. There is a fine line between memorializing the culture and not being able to participate in the modern world. Not that it matters what we think, but it was actually a bit disturbing to see people who seemed frozen in the past – and not just for the benefit of the tourists.

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  2. My friend John Head used to be on the board of Penn School, so it’s great to see your photos of Gullah Island. And didn’t Savannah just make you want to pop your parasol?? One thing I’ve meant to tell you is that I absolutely, positively love all the photos of the art you’re seeing–this is spectacular. Keep it coming!!!

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