Pawleys should preserve Gullah heritage

February 18, 2013 

I’ve been coming to this area since the early ‘80s with my family, first to Litchfield and now wintering four months a year on Pawleys Island. I am saddened and stressed about the closing of the Gullah O’oman museum. The area has always attracted us because of its rich culture and lack of development. First the big box issue and now this, what’s next?

I’ve read about the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, from St. Augustine, Fla., to Wilmington, N.C. I’ve been to Charleston and seen what they have done about their heritage. I’m a member of Brookgreen Gardens and attended many programs on the Gullah culture, but where is Pawleys Island pride of their culture if not in the museum? The museum has been a center for local folks to gather and for visitors to the area to learn more of the Gullah culture in this area specifically. Many folks stop on their way to Charleston to listen to Mr. and Mrs. Rodrigues’ stories and lectures and see the amazing artifacts.

These are hard times, but we should be looking toward the future and insuring that the history of African-American slaves in this area, who have so enriched us, is properly represented and preserved. Mr. and Mrs. Rodrigues have worked tirelessly for many years; who will carry their tradition of local history, pride of self and belief in hard work?

As the Gullah/Geechee corridor continues to build, Pawleys Island has a unique place in this corridor. The area is full of plantations and the ancestors who built them. Let’s not lose these valuable resources. The politics and economics of this make sense. What can we do to preserve this area for future generations?

The writer lives in Elk Park, N.C.

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