When I wrote about the Kingsley Plantation a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea I would be going back to it a week later for the Kingsley Heritage Celebration. Many of the National Parks celebrate some kind of African American Heritage event during February. Fort Frederica will have an African American Heritage Day on February 29. Kingsley Plantation has their Heritage Celebration on two Saturdays in February. One celebrates the African American heritage, and the other is a living history day.
Ranger Michael agreed to send some volunteers to the Kingsley Heritage Celebration. Tim, Linda, and I represented the Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor. We took down a nice display and talked to visitors at Kingsley Plantation. Michael also said we were supposed to see how they did their day so we might be able to improve on our day.
We arrived at the Kingsley Heritage Celebration about 9:30 and had just enough time to set up our display before the first visitors appeared. There were three other booths: The Friends of Kingsley Plantation, a Kingsley Plantation information booth, and a kid’s craft tent. The day was so windy that the kid’s crafts kept blowing all over the lawn and it closed early. Rangers gave tours of the plantation house and there was a big electric golf cart that shuttled people from the parking lot to the entrance and back.
In addition to the three informational tents, there was a big tent that shaded the audience for the keynote speaker and the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters. The keynote speaker was Dr. Johnnetta Cole, a descendant of Zephaniah and Anna Kingsley. We couldn’t hear her from where we were set up, but the large audience appreciated her talk and gave her a standing ovation. I was impressed by how many African American people attended the talk. Fort Frederica doesn’t get a lot of African American visitors, even on our heritage day.
I always feel a little funny manning the Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor booth. I’ve done it many times, but I always thing that someone who shares the Gullah Geechee Heritage should stand at the booth. All I can do is tell about it. Someone who is Gullah Geechee could share personal experiences and stories. But, until we get a better representative, I will continue to do my part in spreading the word.