A Vanishing History: Gullah Geechee Nation


I always feel my ancestors out in this field with me I still can hear songs I stay they feel oh I’ll stay there fee stay there fee until the war’s ended on a quiet chain of islands off the South Carolina and Georgia coast is an almost forgotten community called the Gullah or Geechee people more than anywhere else in America they’ve held on to traditions their ancestors brought from Africa they’ve stayed on the isolated former plantation land where those ancestors were once enslaved and developed a cultural language known as Gullah it seems pretty isolated back here Oh see now that’s what we call insulated so we feel like we’re insulated and kind of kept warmed and keep our culture alive away from the mainland culture so sure if you went just across the crumple bridges and you ended up on the mainland you’ll hear people speaking like this and then you come across onto these 100 a Yeti people the cracker teeth like they show all day long I think like a dead end they say huh mark had a good one also known as Queen wet still lives on the land where her great-great-grandfather was enslaved five generations ago we have okra we plant peanuts cantaloupe watermelon the same things that my great-great grandfather planted here and he was the person that actually obtained this land in 1862 so my family has continuously owned it legally since then but he was actually enslaved here hundreds of plantations ran down the South Carolina and Georgia coast in an area known as the Sea Islands after the civil war broke out the islands were abandoned by the plantation owners and thousands of people were eventually able to buy the land they were once enslaved on but today the landscape is changing folks come in with bulldozers and the first thing we defeat is they want to dig up what we’ve already had for all these generations and then they want to build something that’s antithetical to our culture Golf Courses Resort in condos I’ve replaced Gullah communities Hilton Head Island was the first to be developed once home to about 300 Gullah families the 42 square mile island is now home to 26 golf courses it brings in 2 million tourists a year and is considered one of the top vacation destinations in the United States Gullah burial grounds dating back to the days of slavery are now the back yards million-dollar condos in opulent gated communities that new logos fondly call plantations that development boom is slowly spreading to other areas nearby you can hear right now construction in the distance something else being built yep one of the things that you’ll notice that you’ll never see outside of Gullah Geechee homes usually on signs like that no trespassing well that’s part of the interesting thing is that the land that the Gullah Geechee zone it’s all community owns absolutely yeah most people live on what is in the law called heirs property and that’s because our ancestors during the u.s Civil War now bought property and so Gullah Geechee became the first group of people of African descent in North America to own land in mass Gullah landowners sought to own the land community among their extended family over generations this community owned land was passed down to hundreds of heirs often without legal documents like wills or clear titles an informal shared ownership system developed which came to be known as Ayers property until recently Ayers property arrangements kept family properties from being sold because family is depended on the land and each other but today developers are using legal loopholes to acquire Ayers property sometimes for pennies on the dollar whether the people living there want to sell or not we visited willie hayward a local attorney who helps color families protect their property when the ancestors are quieted this was not a very desirable place to live because of the lack of air conditioning mosquitoes alligators and lack of access lack of bridges and so on and so forth and roads but now that has changed so that progress the lack of a better word has brought in folks who now want to divest Gullah Geechee people of that land for development purposes what’s the extent to the threat run out to the actual land and how much land are we talking about having been lost in the past few years areas that I see that in my opinion that were 90 percent above Gullah Geechee folks that are now less than tenth if that one of the interesting things that we picked up on is that you know just one owner who owns one small part of it can kind of force the entire thing to be sold how does that even work the law allows that allowed just simply all you have to do is allege that you have an interest that interest maybe one hundredth of a percent errors properties are divided into shares with each family member holding a certain portion of ownership the law allows anyone owning part of an heirs property to force the other owners to sell the entire property by going to a judge and asking for their dollar value of their share technically other heirs who want to keep the land could buy out their share but in reality if you have the means to purchase that share on the open market it’s just too expensive and because there are so many owners the land often can’t be subdivided the only practical solution is to sell the land at a court auction or just go along with development what’s unique about delegating people we have more ears outside of South Carolina many cases these ears have lost contact with South Carolina never been to South Carolina don’t know anything about South Carolina but legally they have an interest in that property in the end Gullah people are forced off the land they own to make way for resort communities they can’t afford to live in Adolphe Brown is a real estate broker on Hilton Head Island here’s a piece right now as you see this in for sale sign this is all the answer you can almost tell it by the mobile homes like you’ll see you know a bunch of mobile homes you know together that’s a good indication that you’re on a tract of land that’s is from he showed us a piece of Ayers property he’s planning to develop some distant relatives who live out of state recently decided they wanted to work with that off to develop the land forcing the sale of the entire property and displacing relatives who live there some of the people don’t want to sell obvious because they they’ve lived here their whole lives you can see there’s a lot of mobile homes so they’re 19 in total that you know there’s gonna be an issue with and so you know what do we do what do they what do they do their only option would be to buy those relatives out but they don’t have the means to do so waterfront property here it can go for $800,000 in acre Adolph moved to Hilton Head from New York ten years ago when he discovered he owned shares of an Aires property some of the work you’ve done it it’s kind of got you a bad rap on the island right now yeah yeah yeah it has it has an island a lot of the Islanders think I’m the I’m the bad guy on the city slicker Bambuser dude you know anything people here feel like they’re their entire culture is being sold along with this property that the Gullah culture is basically fading away as more developers buy up these these lands through the era’s property right I mean do you understand that anger I understand the anger and I understand the Gullah culture my grandmother was a midwife on Hilton Head so almost every african-american of that was born from in the 60s 50s 40s she brought them into the world that the problem comes in when the world changed my family doesn’t barter with food they go to regular jobs and have nine two fives and they’ve gone to college and they work fortune 500 companies now so it’s kind of I mean you can see the division like I’m sure there are people who think of this as like like a boon just like they won the lottery almost and those others who think of it as I am losing my way of life I’m losing my home right I’m trying to rectify those two situations I mean what solution can you come up with the only solution I’ve ever seen is to develop it and I give people this analogy of the American Indians that were you know downtown Wall Street they had the teepees there they had little communities could you imagine today there being 20 acres that’s Indian and reserved in Wall Street if that one can’t happen that was hundreds of years ago what I’m saying is I that you have to be progressive or it will you you will get run over taxed out moved out eventually it will happen up the coast the once quiet community of Mount Pleasant recently became the ninth fastest-growing city in the country the Phillips community settled by former slaves of the Phillips plantation is one of two Gullah communities left there so we’re in Phillips community right now which is a Gullah community right outside Charleston and this kind of used to be a really isolated area but now basically what you have is all these developments that have sprung up around it so it’s kind of like a doughnut hole so it’s only really a question of time how much longer that people here can hold out before they’re either priced out or their homes are bought out from underneath them Lawrence Palmer I spent his whole life here when I was growing up there’s a close-knit community or someone who got a house to be built everybody join it and help that person build that house going up to pay a dime in time to come around to you or the community get together and do the same thing to you now it seems like a lot of people are trying to get this property right here oh yeah there are moving in varies swiftly and are people trying to actively get your land right now are they trying to buy your lands oh yeah you try to buy my property or several time I told the noise nut and seal when I should die I hope that some of the family member would step up and not try to keep it Richard generation this community was one big family but now the community is far divided everybody is all the more like an individual number one looking out for number one the hecklers the rest as the push to sell keeps on building the Gullah are running out of options if we can situation on the fussy Allen right now a lot of Native people are gone the few pockets of of Gullah Geechee on st. simon is drying up like the water of california today it’s all but non-existent how can we stop this we don’t really have a community ardent I guess we have maybe a few neighborhoods but not a real community and I think we need to develop and that’s one way to stop people from encroaching on your land we need to meet with each other we don’t we want me right after the funeral when emotions are out of control ever seriously roll you across to within the black community without truck we can’t we definitely can’t be unified I mean in my family we lost a lot of land but but the thing of it is is like I started something new I started buying land and I want it because I know the importance of land and I want to keep it in the family I want to keep it going this is something that we all need to take with us and to explore ways in which we can do that and one of the ways that we may have to do this is the African spirit and let’s see whether or not the African Spirit can calm and some knowledge or wisdom into this problem that we are having as a culture and si as a people in addition to these community meetings the Gullah turned to traditions rooted in those their ancestors brought here more than 200 years ago the name of God most gracious most merciful the kept accent praises to God our mighty Lord of all the worlds master of the Day of Judgment thee do we worship and die aid with the seat show we the squint way the way of those into Goa scream I mean in some respects it’s a genuine vacation story one group pushed out by a wealthier one but given the land and people involves a piece of American history is being lost and when it’s gone it’s gone

Comments 100

  • When all my people are gone off the land, then The Most High will raise the waters and waves and move those others away.

  • These are my ancestors and two of my family talk Geecee

  • The guy who represent uncle Tom he doesn't have solution and said What it will be if Indians still in Manhattan NY.
    That how he sees hundreds of years ago today's reality. Fool
    Like we don't care what had happened the Native Aboriginals .

  • First time seeing this. Please share with everyone possible, hopefully someone with means will be able to help.

  • If they work for fortune 500 companies why not invest in upgrading the ppl's housing and land. blcks are the worst sellouts..facts. i will never sell heirs land, families can unify and upgrade their own land.

  • I REMINDS ME OF THE CONTINUED TAKING OF BLACK LAND ALL OVER.

  • Can the people have nothing without capitalism exerting it's dominance and robbing us blind? The United Snakes are relentless in the pursuit of wealth and power and it destroys everything worth having in this world. Solidarity with the Gullah peoples and all marginalized, oppressed and exploited folks in the world and down with capitalism and it's fully captured states the world over. Any system that incentivises the grandson of the midwife who helped birth the people he's gladly selling out for personal gain is sick beyond repair. That man has internalized the ideology of the oppressor and been duped into class collaboration and identifying with the enemy and has himself become the pig. This is some shameful shit but unfortunately I'm not the least surprised. Colonial settler mentality is something the US still ain't trying to deal with at all. Just look at the state of the First Nations peoples and average folks throughout the country. This system doesn't work for us and it's not a bug, its very much a feature.

  • This is sad ๐Ÿ˜ข

  • Its sad how we sell our own for greed! And its even more sad, when the reporter can have a sense of pride, admiration, and understanding that a descendant cant even have for what his grandmother went through to even acquire the land, that he inherited and nows sells and develops for a community that looks at him just as they looked at his ancestor. Like a slave to do THIER bidding!!! Smh!!! ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ

  • He is a fool and is doing just what those khazars want him to do. It is always one that has to be in opposition. Thats why our culture cant win. We just sit back and let them take everything we have.

  • Shout out to my James Island family in S.C. Whaley Fam!!!

  • So this is why white racist call us "geechee's"….I was confused as hell when a balding devil called me one.

  • Blacks us to own alot of land near these beaches and such.like in North Carolina and South Carolina. There's a few youtube videos that talk about this as well as a book. This was back in the 1920s though..

  • We puerto ricans have the same roots

  • My mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncle's r Gullah, Geechee and many r still there and own their land.

  • "Forced off the land" that sounds so familiar once again history repeating itself in America.

  • They have the right to not become Americanized in your way. Give them what is owed to them!! UNITE AND STAND AS ONE!! PUT YOUR MONEYS TOGETHER and SAVE YOUR LAND

  • My folks are Geechies Gullahs straight out of the sea islands of Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas

  • Browns always become greedy and still lose in the end!!

  • This is so disrespectful. Gullah pronounced Goo-lah and Geeche were two separate indigenous tribes. Gullah is not a language it is a people. We had our own kingdom from Georgetown South Carolina to Wilmington North Carolina.What you call the Seminole war is actually Gullah wars. The Seminoles are of African descendant. Unless you research with an open mind you will continue to believe this bullshit African story. I can't with some people! I know for a fact that the land their golf courses was built on belong to my people. We gullahs still live in the area. Because of the geechee dialect it's easy to pawn them off as Africans.

  • Damn what a sad story. I just hate stuff like this. Its economic racism. and that dude who is originally from NYC and moved down there when he discovered he owned land there is a shameful person.

  • So sad! Why do Americans need more resorts and golf courses? Why can't Americans help the people, rather than swindle them out of their inheritances? This God that Americans claim to love so much, can't be pleased with the greed, and uncaring spirit that has captured the minds and heart of those calling themselves Christians.

  • What you donโ€™t see on Oprah. Love this! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  • There's got to be a way to adapt to this greedy American culture and still hold on to traditional values. There's got to be a way to reinvest in the hood.

  • again high white pepole taking over

  • Donโ€™t ever trust a vow enemyโ˜ ๏ธโ˜ ๏ธโ˜ ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ‘บ

  • Instead of helping his ancestors with the changing world, he supports the agenda of the same 'fortune 500' companies that will be at the root of his demise. the idiocy is ironic, but it's the same story happening all over the world.

  • You think your people can eat dollars, useless paper, live work farm on useless paper, now that a devil ? Witchcraft not going to save you, don't mix witchcraft with God, that's why we came here Yah is a holy Elohim.

  • Wow… I've learned a lot. Thank you. My grandmother was from Gullah-Geechee Island and my grandfather from Batesburg, South Carolina. They both passed away when my father was a small child, so of course I never met them.

  • Rise Up My African Ancestors… Rise…Asheo

  • he has no shame ,money is his god.

  • I wonder what Dane Calloway thinks of all this.

  • Why yall talking to this white man thats how we got infiltrated

  • Our people is our downfall. Keep the land within the black family. Build the wealth not destroy.

  • America I'll take that

  • Some of them sound West Indian

  • The black guy just has an utter asshole vibe about him even when seeing him imo.

  • Wait! "Plantation" Golf Club??? wtf?๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜‘

  • Why do they talk to the enemy???

  • He understands he dont giva DAMN

  • Progessive? Hell they are being moved out!!!!

  • He is right, India was sweep out now they try to sweep Africa Out which they called slave. Nobody IS slave. This is a funny world.

  • DisrespectFUL ASS PPL

  • More reason why respiration should be giveN

  • & naturally a token black guy2sell others property off whattA shameFul Shame

  • Dont have2be progressive have 2 have BALLS&GOD GIVEN FEAR2HAVE ENOUGH FAITH2LOOK4YOURS THIS IS SAD & DUDE TIGER WOODS WANNA BE ASS SHOULD BE A SHAME FIGHTING A LOSING GAME

  • This is an alarming story that now, 3 years later, still isn't reported on the regular news outlets. Anything that's a wake-up call isn't reported. Too bad that another Northern Black person who's really trying to save their ancestors' land wasn't interviewed. That guy left a bad taste in my mouth, because he didn't say 'development for the people,' to have modern homes instead of trailers. He said 'development' and 'progress,' which is – build something for the interlopers and get out the way. That's not how it's gonna go, and if they do build, a hurricane is gonna knock it all down!

  • The problem comes in when your heritage has a price and your a trader for the $$%. That is not progress

  • How is that dudes name Adolph????

  • leave them alone!!!!!!

  • 13:28 I noticed sheโ€™s wearing Nyame symbol on her earrings.

  • Imagine being black and selling your own people…at least he could help them

  • Nigga please!!! Dem fi gweh wid dem Gichi idolatry. Why u think they dem loose dem land? Dat white bwoy getting too much hate, dem Africans worshiping way too much wrong. What u think be happening when folks be doing evil works? They loose. Gulla what? Gichi what? Please people get your minds out the gutter. U cant be backin every spearchuckin tribe. Would you like your own children to be cannibalized by shit like this. Snap out of it. King Guala Maine seh dat! Wassup? The only solution there izzz development!!! Belie dat wo. Shot out my brother in the white cap. I love my niggaz. #chicomob Say supm!

  • Before dem seek YAH, dem seek the devils, thats why dem life so misareble!!!

  • This happens way to often. And it can't always be blamed on the "white man" WE see an opportunity to capitalize on those who cannot fight for themselves because of the lack of money. You are hard pressed to find native residents in places like this and Key West and other parts of the country; Gentrification at its finest!

  • Stay strong and keep your land. Don't loose what's yours.

  • At 13:47 The man with a face paint recited the verse of the Qur'an Al Fatiha (The Opening).

    Amazing may Allah guide these people.

  • 13:27 Did anyone else notice that it was Al-fatihah, the first chapter of the Quran, being recited.

    There must have been a few Muslims amongst those who lived on those islands.

  • We are American aboriginal people!!! They try to say that we all came from Africa but that is a hoax to steal the the American land and estates from the true American people.

  • Bet Adolfo midwife grandma would be so proud of him……Not

  • That's a dam shame black American own land and still being stolen

  • This sellout adolf dude

  • I'm so tired of white people coming in and taking what they didn't help to get.. or what's not theirs….. Smh…. It's ok TMH said what was first will be last, and what's last will come first…… the end is near, and y'all still won't fix your faults….just remember, you should've picked your own cotton…. And I think I'm speaking for blacks when I say this…. this (black guy) is no longer apart of the black community, he's a trader and y'all (whites) can have him, when push comes to shove! And it will… He tried it… He supposed to be helping blacks not helping tare down blacks, cause the devil and his seeds they don't need no help.. believe that

  • Lease the land 100% with no clause of commercial ownership. Also pool monies for taxes .

  • Yes she is from a part of Africa- Israel. Hebrews to Negros movie/doc available on Prime

  • Developerโ€™s name is Adolf…
    โ€œOh, well then fu** him especially.โ€

  • Interesting. The last part is a Muslim prayer translation. Are they still Muslim?

  • Made me sick to my stomach

  • Ole Wayne Brady lookin mf tryna get the village to sell smh ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ. We need to own dummy not sell. He setting us bk more years.

  • All money is not good money when you are a sale out! Woowee!

  • Well I don't take blame the developers of on this one. The Gullah people should realize what was going on and organized to stop it.

  • Hey VICE I currently live in Phillip's Community and I would like to get in touch j with you guys on a story I think would be worth telling…I grew up here for the last 26yrs and I see you had Mr.Palmer on the documentary as an older view point. But I think I have some "millennial" point of view that would be worth some content maybe.

  • Side note…ADOLPH is a ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

  • Nothing came from Africa, cave man you already talking like a KKK ,we were not no slave

  • They are not Afircan

  • They are the real Israelites!! God, says We will remember ourselves in the land of our Captivites!!

  • Watching this makes me so sad. Americans will put money ahead of people every time. That's the American way. How can someone feel comfortable displacing 19 families that have been on land for generations. I guarantee Adolph is not working alone. He is just being used to infiltrate the community by larger developers. Shame. Please keep fighting for what is rightfully yours.

  • fucking greedy white america always taking peoples land!!!!

  • I'm sorry but I dont think she hearing no songs. Let's put a tone down on some of the sensationalism y'all

  • The guy is kind of right. Why dont they build their own businesses and developments?? Hello!!! We as a people have to think and ADAPT!! Either we do for ourselves OR we will always be looking for someone or something else to provide!! Why cant we play the game like the Indians so we can have our own casino's and communities!!!

  • This is what Europeans have been doing for centuries. And, you have some Black/brown people who are on their side whom want a piece of the pie and sell out their own people and destroy their own culture. This is extremely sad and gentrification is going on all over the United States, the Europeans come to conquer and destroy to continue to gain and keep their wealth.

  • CAN WE HAVE SOMETHING?

  • Sell out greedy piece of dog shit. You were named correctly Adolf. Instead of creating internal wealth for his own culture, he helps to force them out for pennies on the dollar. Shameful. Those developments should be black owned business endeavors. These people didnt anticipate whites and sell out's stealing their land back which is unfortunate. Beyond sad.

  • Why not create "Gullah Geechee Nation Trust", put all of the land left and the land illegally taken in that trust and force those who developed on it to pay the trust for the use of the land or they have to leave also preserving the Gullah Geechee Nation? What the hell is that lawyer doing?

  • Geechie/Gullah for fa life

  • Black people need to keep what little land and wealth that they have. It's a shame that some blacks are willing to sell out to their oppressors. Damn shame.

  • I wish I had land. Wow.

  • Gullah Gullah island sent me here

  • You ignorant fool u are destroying real history theses black people own there land land is Everything for our people history history priceless

  • That distant relative, developer from NY ainโ€™t about Shit!!!! Adolph. He might end up as alligator food, kicking those people off their homes.

  • African Americans ain't african

  • This a bounch of bullshitt !! ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ‘Ž

  • PRAYER IS MOST POWERFUL than any man made tools great and small.
    Not one human being nor humanoids can ever own anything that was CREATED BY THE MOST HIGH ONE unless they are Robbers of the MOST HIGH ONE and No one has ever seen nor heard about the consequences of Robbing the MOST HIGH ONE but the Robbers will experience what Robbing the MOST HIGH ONE IS LIKE BUT WILL NOT EVER LIVE TO TELL THEIR LOVE ONES to NEVER LIVE TO ROB FOR TEMPORARY treasures.

  • The race color of colorful folks is black the false Christ is black like the night and that light as blue as your eyes.Judges Chapter 15,verse 1-10)Verse 14,)Judges 13,verse 25)1Chronicle Chapter 6,verse 31).1Chroinles Chapter 5,verse 1-14).Genesis Chapter 25,verse 15.)

  • I don't know how i got here, i have always wanted to know if there exist any African Americans who still trys to preserve their African culture, even after many years gone. I was brought to tears when i saw those lady dancing and singing, the rhythm and melody sounded just like some songs in the Munga'ka language, from the Bali-Nyonga people in the North West Region of Cameroon.

  • Never knew how import Gullah Gullah Island was to the culture when I was a kid. I remember watching those beautiful brown faces play with a giant yellow toad on Nickelodeon. The old school Nick was ahead of its time. โค๏ธ

  • That Adolph guy is disgusting. A parasite to his own community. Hows way?!

  • OMG greed and exploitation never stops-this is what happened to the American Indians.

  • ADOLPH, THE "CITY SLICKER," UNDERSTANDS, BUT! THE WORLD HAS CHANGED… IS HE RIGHT?!? TIME WAITS FOR NO-ONE… NO-ONE… POOR!

  • "That real estate agent Adolph Brown is a sellout"…

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