Going Home: My first Heritage Days experience

How did you first become aware of Heritage Days? Why did you attend this year?

During my time with The Gullah Project I’ve logged footage of past Heritage festivals, and researched the Penn Center’s history. I came to understand that the annual event allows Gullah artists, farmers, and fishermen to celebrate their heritage with one another and share it with those eager to understand it. I attended this year because we were invited to screen The Gullah Project and host a Q&A about the film. It was an absolute pleasure to see our cast and crew together again.

This was your first time attending Heritage Days, what was the one thing that stuck with you the most from your visit?

At Heritage, everyone is your family. People were so kind that I felt right at home, and, like I belonged. Also, the food was incredible! The oysters, crabs, and sweet potatoes were so good, I couldn’t get enough of them!

Why do you think Heritage Days is important?

The Heritage Day Celebration is critical to the survival of Gullah culture. It unites younger and older generations and encourages them to preserve the past while embracing the future. This beautiful concept is why Heritage is successful and why I’m sure it will continue.

Heritage Days 2012
Aunt Pearlie Sue entertains hundreds on the main stage at Heritage.


How did you come to get involved with the Gullah Project?

TGP Director, Denise McGill, is also an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UofSC. I registered for her photography class my senior year and one day she asked if anyone was interested in volunteering with her film. Since my great grandmother is Gullah and I was looking for an extracurricular to enhance my portfolio, I decided to join the TGP team last September.

Tell me about your day to day with The Gullah Project. How will your experience at Heritage influence your work with TGP?

When I start my day with TGP, I like to grab my work journal and review our goals. Keeping our vision in mind allows me to understand my place on the team and make sure I’m helping my director and producer move forward. As production manager, my job is pretty sporadic. Some days I’m a videographer, other days I’m our social media manager, and every once and awhile I get to just sit down with our cast and talk. Those are my favorite days and why I enjoyed Heritage. Touching base and getting to know our cast is what will make Gullah Gone a powerful and effective film because if we care about our cast then our audience will too.






Do you have a favorite experience from Heritage Days?

My favorite experience has to be watching Ed “Lee Man” Atkins teach children about his fishing boat and the net that Crip Legree handmade for him. Lee Man is such a talented and kind man and having the opportunity to see him share his livelihood with a younger generation was truly heartwarming.

Ed “Lee Man” Atkins teaches kids about his special fishing net handmade by Crip Legree.

If you had to invite someone who has never been to St. Helena Island and Heritage Days, what is the one thing you would say to convince them to go?

I would say, “Come home with me.” If you need a hug, a warm meal, and the unmistakable feeling of peace then St. Helena is the place for you.

Published by Alex Cone

Videographer, Critic

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