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Black History Resources: Shadows of the Gullah Geechee Exhibit - by Photographer Pete Marovich

Description

The South Carolina State Library hosted documentary photographer Pete Marovich's "Shadows of the Gullah Geechee" photo exhibit from February 2 to March 30, 2018.

The work explores the lives and culture of the Gullah Geechee people in communities from Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island, Ga., to Mosquito Beach on Sol Legare Island, S.C. The project captures everyday moments of work, play, worship and resilience of the Gullah Geechee people as they are under increasing pressures from encroaching development and rising taxes.

Seventeen images from Shadows of the Gullah Geechee, have been accepted in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. A selection of images from this collection are also part of the permanent collection at the McLeod Plantation Historic Site on James Island, S.C.

SCSL Deputy Director of Statewide Development Denise Lyons said she was honored that the library could host this compelling gallery.

"We at the State Library are interested in the many cultures that have enriched our state. These photographs capture the everyday moments of work and life of the Gullah Geechee people and demonstrate the poignancy of the struggle between historic and cultural preservation, and modern development," Lyons said. "We are pleased to host this compelling exhibit bringing recognition, education, and awareness about our contemporary Gullah and Geechee communities."

Artist Bio: Award-winning photojournalist Pete Marovich has been working as a professional photographer for 30 years since starting as a staff photographer at a medium-sized daily newspaper in Indiana and as a stringer for the Associated Press. His photography has appeared in Time Magazine, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Financial Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, Sports Illustrated, Woman's World, The Huffington Post, Politico, Essence, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Daily Beast. He is a founding member of the photography collective, American Reportage.

Shadows of the Gullah Geechee by Pete Marovich is curated by American Reportage.

Images

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Eddie Grant Jr. tends his mother's garden as new condominiums rise along her property line.

While Grant's family has managed to hold onto their land, many other Gullah Geechee residents have been forced to sell their property due to rampant development and escalating taxes. Grant says Hilton Head has "lost its charm" to development.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Tom Barnwell raises goats on his property. A leader in the Gullah Geechee community, Barnwell encourages residents to retain their land despite encroaching development, rising taxes and enticing offers from buyers. He helps families clear land titles, write wills and resolve other property-rights issues.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Sol Legare, S.C. – 2013

Ernest Parks, curator of the Seashore Farmers' Lodge, wears the uniform of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which was one of the first sanctioned African-American regiments in the Union Army. The 54th fought the Battle of Sol Legare on the island in 1863, two days before they engaged in the Battery Wagner battle famously depicted in the film Glory.
 

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Sol Legare, S.C. – 2013

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation stands outside of one of the three remaining praise houses on St. Helena Island, S.C.

Built during slavery, they were small places of worship for the Gullah and still serve an important spiritual role in the Gullah community.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

Daufuskie Island, S.C. – 2004

Members of the First Union African Baptist church sit and discuss island issues and politics following a Sunday service on Daufuskie Island.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Daufuskie Island, S.C. – 2004

Sullivan's Island, S.C. – 2014

Every year a ceremony is held in several places along the eastern coast of the U.S. like Sullivan's Island near Charleston, S.C., commemorating the nearly 2 million Africans who perished in the Middle Passage of the transatlantic human trade.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Sullivan's Island, S.C. – 2014

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

A young member of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church walks toward the shore after being baptized in Skull Creek.

Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church is one of the few churches on Hilton Head Island that still perform traditional river baptisms. Other churches have given up the practice as development has limited their access to the island's waterways.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2002

Harry Murray pilots his bateau boat in a creek near Hilton Head Island. The Gullah Geechee once relied heavily on the shallowdraft, flat-bottom boats for transportation and fishing. But few Gullah Geechee use the boats today, and almost no one in the communities builds them anymore.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2002

Bluffton, S.C. – 2013

Anthony "Drack" Mervin, an independent oysterman who works out of Bluffton Oyster Company in Bluffton, S.C., harvests oysters in the May River near Hilton Head Island.

A Gullah Geechee tradition, harvesting oysters is a dangerous job. In 1999, a young Gullah Geechee oysterman named Tyrone Smith fell from his boat while hauling in a load of oysters. As Smith's hip waders filled with water, he was pulled under and drowned.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Bluffton, S.C. – 2013

Bluffton, S.C. – 2013

Anthony "Drack" Mervin, an independent oysterman who works out of Bluffton Oyster Company in Bluffton, S.C., harvests oysters in the May River near Hilton Head Island. Harvesting oysters is a dangerous job.

The Gullah Geechee traditions of oystering and shrimping depend on healthy estuaries, where water quality is not polluted to the point that fish, shrimp and crabs no longer thrive.

In the 1980's, state health officials closed oyster beds around Hilton Head Island due to runoff pollution from golf courses and development.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Bluffton, S.C. – 2013

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Diogenese Miller takes a break as "The Rip Tide" heads back toward the dock. Reduced access to waterways, strict regulations and increasing seafood imports are spoiling domestic shrimping — a traditional Gullah Geechee vocation.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2003

Daufuskie Island, S.C. – 2013

Yvonne Wilson casts for shrimp and mullet off the Freeport Marina dock on Daufuskie Island.

In the 1980's when a large development company, excavating for their reception center on the site of a Gullah cemetery, began unearthing bones from older unmarked graves and throwing them into the Cooper River, Wilson took them on and won. The developers agreed to move their reception center.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Daufuskie Island, S.C. – 2013

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

An old dock faces out into the marsh on St. Helena Island. After slavery was abolished, the Gullah Geechee were forced to the coast where no one wanted to live. Here, the Gullah thrived on sustenance fishing. Now the waterways that sustained them for generations is under threat from offshore oil and gas wells.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

Hardeeville, S.C. – 2013

Mt. Pleasant resident Darryl Stoneworth harvests sweetgrass on property owned by the Okeetee Hunt Club near Hardeeville, South Carolina.

With all of the traditional areas to harvest the grass in Mt. Pleasant now shut off to the Gullah due to the development of shopping centers and private residential communities, Stoneworth travels the 90 miles south to Hardeeville a few times each week during the month of July to pull the grass.

The hunt club is closed for about a month during the summer and the management allows the Gullah to pull the grass at that time at no charge.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hardeeville, S.C. – 2013

Mt Pleasant, S.C. – 2013

Alma Washington, 76, began sewing the traditional sweetgrass baskets at age 5. Sweetgrass basketmaking has been part of the Mt. Pleasant community for over 300 years. Basketmaking is a traditional Gullah art form which has been passed on from generation to generation.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Mt Pleasant, S.C. – 2013

Sol Legare, S.C. – 2013

James Brown walks along the road at Mosquito Beach in the Sol Legare community on James Island, South Carolina.

The "beach" is a quarter-mile strip of marshland and mud, but back when segregation was still in effect, it was one of the few waterfront areas that welcomed African Americans. There was not much swimming to be had but they danced, drank and ate in the restaurants and juke joints.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Sol Legare, S.C. – 2013

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

Deacon James G. Smalls stakes one of his cows on his property on St. Helena Island.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

Sara Reynolds Green picks vegetables in the Marshview Community Organic Farm on St. Helena Island. Green's mother was able to put three daughters through college back when the packing houses on the island were paying the local Gullah farmers for their produce.

Today there are large corporate farming operations on the island that the packing houses would prefer to deal with.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

St. Helena Island, S.C. – 2014

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2013

Braddock's Point Cemetery in Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island remains active for members of the Williams and related Chisolm families. It dates to Braddock's Point Plantation in what is now Sea Pines. It's where
the enslaved and freedmen were buried.

It has long been a lightning rod for the clash of the Gullah and resort cultures that began flooding the island with the first bridge in 1956.

The cemetery lies in the shadow of a four-story condominium along the famed 18th fairway of the Harbour Town Golf Links.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 2013

Bulow Landing, S.C. – 2014

At Bulow Landing, located in a part of western Charleston County, a clash is unfolding between the developer of the Poplar Grove subdivision and Gullah neighbors.

The developer wants to install a gate on the road which would make it difficult for the Gullah to visit Lowdnes Cemetery, an old but active cemetery, as well as the boat landing that is also used for fishing and crabbing. Land has already been cleared next to the cemetery for a community clubhouse.

All rights reserved. © Pete Marovich/American Reportage. For more information, see: http://americanreportage.com/tw-portfolio/shadows-of-the-gullah-geechee/

Bulow Landing, S.C. – 2014