The Penn Center 33rd Annual Heritage Days Celebration

Tomorrow starts the the Penn Center 33rd Annual Heritage Days Celebration held on St. Helena Island, SC. Authentic Gullah music, food, and customs await families and friends who return to the island to celebrate their Gullah/Geechee culture. PAGE_1_HERITAGE_DAYS_POST_CARD_FRONT

This year Saundra “Renee” Smith is Heritage Days Artist of the Year. She will be honored at a reception tomorrow with music by Mahoganee. On Friday the public is invited to the discussion Researching Gullah/Geechee Roots: A Genealogy Symposium with the keynote address by Michael W. Twitty.

Other festivities back this year are the Road to Remembrance play directed by Sara’ Reynolds Green, Friday Night Fish Fry, Oyster Roast & Crab Crack, Juke Joint Jam, and last but not least the Heritage Day Parade, which will close off Highway 21 from 8 am – 10:30 am on Saturday, November 14th.

If you’re in the area or have been interested in checking this event out we here at The Gullah Project highly recommend it.

To see complete program, guest speakers, and scheduling please click here.

Flood devastates South Carolina agriculture

The rain and floods that began on October 1 continue to have a devastating impact on South Carolina’s famers and landowners. Much of the water has receded, but it will take time to clean up the damage.

On October 28, U.S. Department of Agriculture listed 29 counties in South Carolina, as well as parts of Georgia and North Carolina, as natural disaster areas. Farm operators in those counties may be eligible for USDA’s low interest emergency loans or other programs. Farmers have until June 2016 to apply for assistance for their losses.

Nine of the effected counties are in the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor: Beaufort, Berkley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Marion and Williamsburg.

For more information, see

South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers estimates crop losses in the state at $300 million. Heavy losses are in peanuts and cotton because these crops were just beginning harvest in October. Thousands of acres were under water for a time.

Other resources include the Flood Mitigation Program of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

An exclusive look at the Heritage Day Festivities 2014

Caught in action The Gullah Project team made sure to stop by the Johnson's booth at the Heritage Days Festival.

Caught in action The Gullah Project team made sure to stop by the Johnsons’ booth at the Heritage Days Festival.

Last week The Gullah Project team traveled to St. Helena Island to attend the 32nd Annual Heritage Days Celebration. From covering the Road of Remembrance play directed by Sara’ Reynolds Green, to climbing trees with a GoPro camera to photograph Ben Johnson’s produce booth, the team had an outrageously good time. Take a moment to visit this exclusive behind the scenes gallery from the Heritage Day Festivities by clicking on the photograph above.


Frank Major Sr., commercial crab fisherman, checks his traps for blue crab and stone crab. Photos © 2011 Denise McGill

Frank Major Sr., a commercial crab fisherman, checks his traps for blue crab and stone crab.
Photos © 2011 Denise McGill

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. 

This week catch up with the residents of St. Helena Island by way of photographs and video interviews by clicking on the photograph above. 

Lowcountry Cookin’ at Gullah Grub

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“The thing about this Gullah style cooking is when you get a chance, you got to be able to use all your senses.” Says Bill Green the owner of The Gullah Grub a restaurant located on St. Helena Island that specializes in authentic LoCountry cooking. To learn more about the The Gullah Grub Restaurant and to see an exclusive interview with Bill Green click on the photograph above.

Craig & Darlene Dopson

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“I love shrimping, I rather do it then anything, it’s an honest living, it’s hard work, it’s enjoyable.” -Craig Dopson

Dopson’s Seafood run and operated since 1975 by Craig and Darlene Dopson is one of the last public docks located on St. Helena Island. Here they provide a service to shrimpers acting as a middle man by buying the shrimp then selling the produce to wholesalers. To learn more about this slowly fading business click on the photograph above.

First day of oyster season begins

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After months of waiting today begins the first day of oyster season along the South Carolina coast.

Oyster season usually runs from September to April and can be easily remembered because oysters are only in season during months with the letter “r” in them.

It’s also important to remember that recreational harvesters must have a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License from the state and should also obtain an updated map found at


“A Better Place” sister film takes BEA honors

Last week Buz Kloot and Denise McGill were honored at Broadcast Education Association (BEA) District 2 Regional Conference, where their film “A Better Place: St. Helena, South Carolina” won second place in the Faculty Video Production Competition.

Kloot and McGill were co-directors and co-producers for the project, which was released in 2012. It’s an honor to have their previous work recognized by their peers.