Author Topic: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage  (Read 739 times)

thelakelander

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Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« on: October 02, 2019, 06:57:28 AM »
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Historically associated with the Lowcountry region that stretches from Wilmington, North Carolina to St. Augustine, Florida, the Gullah Geechee are descendants of Central and West African ancestors who arrived in America through the transatlantic slave trade. They've had a major impact on the local culture of Jacksonville that continues to be largely overlooked and misunderstood. Prepared for the federal Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, this brief article is intended to serve as a general, high level overview and introduction of Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee story.


Read More: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/exposing-jacksonvilles-gullah-geechee-heritage/
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Charles Hunter

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2019, 08:27:49 AM »
Very interesting, thank you for sharing.  I hope this important part of our shared history can be saved and shared. Emphasizing Gullah-Geechee links to food seems a very accessible way of increasing awareness.

Adam White

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2019, 09:56:45 AM »
I grew up very close to Cosmo. The area has been decimated since I first moved to Jax in 1979. It breaks my heart to think that Cosmo is in real danger of being the next "Greenland" or whatever. I am happy to see this very important part of the region's history is finally getting a bit of notice.
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thelakelander

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2019, 10:11:53 AM »
I spent a day with representatives from Cosmo last week. They're working hard to preserve and acknowledge what remains of that community. This effort includes the development of a park on Fort Caroline Road.

https://www.coj.net/city-council/city-council-members/d02/photo-gallery/freedom-park

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thelakelander

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2019, 10:15:15 AM »
A similar effort is underway in Mandarin. Just this past weekend, this included rightfully renaming a public space after a forgotten community leader:

https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20191001/mark-woods-park-renaming-isnt-about-rewriting-history---its-about-getting-it-right
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Wacca Pilatka

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2019, 10:24:17 AM »
Great work, Lake.  I had never heard of the community of Edisto before this.  I assume this community has ties to lowcountry SC from the name as well?
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Adam White

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2019, 11:04:43 AM »
I spent a day with representatives from Cosmo last week. They're working hard to preserve and acknowledge what remains of that community. This effort includes the development of a park on Fort Caroline Road.

https://www.coj.net/city-council/city-council-members/d02/photo-gallery/freedom-park



Interesting - and good to know! That looks like it will sit on the parcel of land that was a 7-Eleven (and later a post office).
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thelakelander

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2019, 11:23:41 AM »
Great work, Lake.  I had never heard of the community of Edisto before this.  I assume this community has ties to lowcountry SC from the name as well?
Yes, it was a family of settlers from Edisto, SC. Julington Creek Baptist Church was established by them in the 19th century. Most of what was Edisto has been developed into a modern residential subdivision. However, if you drive through the subdivision, you'll see a few hidden entrances to homes that were there prior to the subdivision's development.

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In 1872 a family of migrating freed slaves arrived from Edisto South Carolina to Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. They settled in the area known as “Loretta,” Florida. Because of the jubilance experienced by those whom God had allowed to see their freedom this group didn’t stop until there was a church established in which they could continue their thanksgiving and praise. With Reverend Green as their first Pastor they founded a church and named it after the creek that flowed near by, “Julington.” Although this church is often by some referred to as “Julington creek,” the creek was never a part of the name.

https://www.jmbc.com/about-jbc/
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Adam White

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2019, 11:44:02 AM »
Great work, Lake.  I had never heard of the community of Edisto before this.  I assume this community has ties to lowcountry SC from the name as well?
Yes, it was a family of settlers from Edisto, SC. Julington Creek Baptist Church was established by them in the 19th century. Most of what was Edisto has been developed into a modern residential subdivision. However, if you drive through the subdivision, you'll see a few hidden entrances to homes that were there prior to the subdivision's development.

Quote
In 1872 a family of migrating freed slaves arrived from Edisto South Carolina to Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. They settled in the area known as “Loretta,” Florida. Because of the jubilance experienced by those whom God had allowed to see their freedom this group didn’t stop until there was a church established in which they could continue their thanksgiving and praise. With Reverend Green as their first Pastor they founded a church and named it after the creek that flowed near by, “Julington.” Although this church is often by some referred to as “Julington creek,” the creek was never a part of the name.

https://www.jmbc.com/about-jbc/

Thanks Lake.

Question - I looked up that church and it appears to be in the middle of Bayard. Is Edisto the community that was there prior to the development of Bayard?

You mentioned a modern subdivision. Is that Bartram Springs?

Sorry for all the questions. I find this fascinating.
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CityLife

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2019, 01:11:35 PM »
First time I’ve seen or heard NE Florida referred to as part of the Low Country. Could be my own ignorance, but is this a common reference? Or are you trying to make that connection more well known. There definitely are some cultural, environmental, and geographic ties there.

Tacachale

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2019, 01:18:48 PM »
First time I’ve seen or heard NE Florida referred to as part of the Low Country. Could be my own ignorance, but is this a common reference? Or are you trying to make that connection more well known. There definitely are some cultural, environmental, and geographic ties there.

NE Florida is often left out of discussions of the "Lowcountry" but it's part of the same Sea Islands chain where the Gullah Geechee culture developed. I believe Jacksonville has the largest population of Gullah-Geechee descendents in the country. You're certainly not alone - I didn't know either until Ennis told me some time ago, and I've since told a number of people, black and white, who had no idea either.
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itsfantastic1

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2019, 01:51:22 PM »
First time I’ve seen or heard NE Florida referred to as part of the Low Country. Could be my own ignorance, but is this a common reference? Or are you trying to make that connection more well known. There definitely are some cultural, environmental, and geographic ties there.



Most of my limited knowledge comes from watching the kid's show on Nickelodeon when I was in elementary school called "Gullah Gullah Island". Not really sure if that speaks well for me or not... :-[

thelakelander

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2019, 10:49:27 PM »
First time I’ve seen or heard NE Florida referred to as part of the Low Country. Could be my own ignorance, but is this a common reference? Or are you trying to make that connection more well known. There definitely are some cultural, environmental, and geographic ties there.
Jax is in the Lowcountry and it's just as significant to Gullah Geechee history as Savannah and Charleston. Locally, we've failed to tell our story while other places have capitalized on that same history. Being urban, you won't see some parts of rural Gullah Geechee traditions (sweetgrass baskets, the language, etc.) but you can find others (foodways) all over the place. In some churches, the ring shouting James Weldon Johnson wrote about still occurs.
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Adam White

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2019, 03:52:25 AM »
I think part of the issue is that the term 'low country' has traditionally been associated with South Carolina and hasn't been used (for the most part) to refer to the corresponding regions of GA and FL. But culturally - particularly in terms of Gullah culture - both GA and north FL are unequivocally part of the low country.
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thelakelander

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Re: Exposing Jacksonville's Gullah Geechee Heritage
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2019, 06:18:19 AM »
Being largely under Spanish control until 1821, Florida's history isn't as well known and we've done ourselves no favors by ignoring our own story. As such, many elements of our African American history are commonly associated with SC and GA instead. In reality, slavery had no boundries and the enslaved from Africa's rice coast ended up in coastal Florida as well, both via slavery and escaping from SC and GA plantations on the underground railroad. Of those who escaped that didn't want to be Catholic or trust the Spanish, they went further south into Florida, establishing their own isolated settlements, and taking their culture and traditions with them. Today, we simply loop everything up as black history but even within that storyline, there's a Gullah Geechee component, which is why many of the things assumed to be Carolina-based through branding and marketing (ex. mustard based bbq sauce, lowcountry boils, etc.) are also here.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali