Sixth African American Festival

On February 18, Fort Frederica National Monument hosted its sixth African American Festival.  Tom and I have participated in all of them.  They all kind of blur together at this point because they are all the same.  Only the players change from year to year.

Intern Bailey, Ranger Jamieson, Intern Sierra, Intern Niki. First festival for all of them

I have worked at the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor tent for all six of the African American Festivals.  The Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor was established by the U.S. Congress to recognize the unique culture.  These African American people have traditionally resided in the coastal areas and the sea islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  As enslaved people on the sea islands, they developed their own blend of African and American traditions, language, and customs.  At the tent I have some brochures and some foods that are traditionally African but are common today in southern cooking such as black-eyed peas and rice.

Intern Niki helped me with the Gullah booth and she was a great asset.  She is a quick learner and jumped right in to talk to folks who had questions.  She also is a fast mover, which was very important at the sixth African American Festival.  It was an extremely windy day, but the wind came in gusts that changed direction.  One minute everything would be fine, and the next minute things would be blowing all over.  We had sandbags that helped our brochures stay in place.  Our tent, however, has a mural at the back that acted like a sail.  After the entire tent almost blew away, we took the mural down.  I accidentally took this picture during the big gust and you can see the way Niki and I would run to grab the tent to keep it in place.

Grab the tent!

In addition to the Gullah Geechee tent, we had other National Park sites represented.  Fort Frederica and Cumberland Island had tents highlighting their African American contributions.  Reconstruction Era National Historical Park sent Ranger Chris Barr down to tell its story.  Tom and I worked with Ranger Chris when we were at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and it was good to see him again.  Fort Pulaski National Monument also had a tent with a ranger.  The Cassina Garden Club, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, and the Georgia Historical Society had booths.  Georgia Department of Transportation had a booth that highlighted their archaeological work.

Ranger Chris Barr from Reconstruction Era

The highlight of the day, as always, was the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters.  Everyone enjoys watching them and comes specifically for their program.  Another popular booth was the Library of Congress that did a genealogical presentation.  A trolley ran back and forth between the historic Harrington School and the park.

We had 700 visitors at the sixth African American Festival, which was comparable to our pre-Covid numbers.  Aside from the cool, gusty wind, it was a wonderful day to interact with people and celebrate the cultural contributions of African Americans.