Gullah Gone: Preserving the Land, Water and Culture of the Sea Islands

Gullah Gone: Preserving the Land, Water and Culture of the Sea Islands

African Americans on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, have been farming and fishing their land since the Civil War. Now they must choose whether to sell their pristine coastline to retire in luxury, or find a way to preserve their way of life for their children.



This one-hour documentary follows African American landowners as they struggle to make a living off land their families have owned since Reconstruction. 

St. Helena Island is a magical place on the South Carolina coastline. African Americans have farmed and fished here for centuries: first as plantation slaves, then as freedmen owning small subsistence operations.  It’s now one of the last farming communities on the East Coast that hasn’t been swallowed up by development. But the Gullah / Geechee traditions here are in danger. 

Can the residents pass their heritage on to another generation? Or will the pristine nature of the land and water be lost forever? 

The filmmakers have spent years on the island documenting landowners and fishermen. Along the way we explore the challenges of sustainable agriculture, the effort to keep young people on the island, and the growing network that helps families stay on their land.      

In the end, the residents show tenuous optimism about the future of the island. The answers involve blending traditional knowledge with modern techniques. Witty characters and stunning scenery transport viewers to one of America’s last hidden treasures.