Historian and anthropologist Joseph Opala will kick-off the 2017 “The Reign of Rice Lecture Series” at Brookgreen Gardens. The theme for the three-monthly programs, which provide information about the complexity of Gullah Geechee heritage through the production of rice, is “Shared Cultural Elements of Rice Heritage.” In recognition of Native American shared cultural vestiges, Opala will present “The Black Seminoles: Gullah Freedom Fighters and the African Frontier in North America” at 1:00 p.m. in the Welcome Center Conference Room on January 21. The program is free with garden admission. Seating must be reserved at 843-235-6049.
Opala, of Harrisonburg, VA, is known for his research on the “Gullah Connection.” He has spent 40 years using historical discoveries to bring Sierra Leoneans, Gullahs, and Black Seminoles together in a series of homecomings along the entire migration route, from West Africa to Mexico. His talk will relay how some Gullahs used their rice farming skills to win their freedom.
Other events about Gullah heritage include an educational exhibit and two Wednesday programs.
“Shine On, Gullah. Shine On.”, an exhibit of Story Quilts, Fabric Collages, and Prints by Fabric Chronicler Dorothy Montgomery of Charleston, will be displayed at Learning Lab I of the Wall Lowcountry Center from 12-4:30 p.m. daily from January 9 through March 12. Her art reflects Gullah history and culture and her Gullah experiences, including language and traditions. Each quilt uses a variety of mediums including fabric and acrylic paints, ink, crayons, embroidery floss, dye sticks, and appliqués.
The Wednesday “Gullah Geechee Program Series” will feature two guest presenters. On January 18, Montgomery will present a lecture about her exhibit. On January 25, Gillian Richards-Greaves, Ph.D., will present “Connections with Gullah Geechee and Caribbean/West African Cultures,” identifying Africanisms/African retentions in both. Richards-Greaves is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Geography and the Assistant Director for the Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies at Coastal Carolina University. Each program will be at 1:00 p.m., in the Wall Lowcountry Center Auditorium and is free with garden admission. Seating must be reserved at 843-235-6049.
Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark and non-profit organization, is located on U.S. 17 between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and is open to the public daily. For more information, consult our web site at www.brookgreen.org or call 843-235-6000.