Community meetings address Gullah Geechee Historic Preservation Project

The meeting connects residents with the Gullah Geechee Heritage Preservation Project, which is a grant focusing on keeping these communities alive.
Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 10:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2023 at 11:23 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Dozens of community members were in Mount Pleasant Thursday evening for a feedback session discussing the preservation of historic African American communities in Charleston.

The meeting connects residents with the Gullah Geechee Heritage Preservation Project, which is a grant focusing on keeping these communities alive.

The Gullah Geechee Heritage Preservation Project is a two-year $100,000 initiative by the city of Charleston in partnership with Charleston County, the town of Mount Pleasant and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

The goal of the project is to connect African American communities with assistance and support with the grant money, as well as through historic surveys, archival collections and the National Register of Historic Places.

“I think at the end of the day, it’s an opportunity for these historic communities that have often may not have been looked at, maybe maligned, pushed aside or ignore, to be able to tell their story,” preservation project advisor, Michael Allen, says.

“It’s to be able to share their journey, to talk about their vision; and an opportunity to say how their property, their land, their landscape, is a part of our American experience, our American fabric.”

Thursday was the third of eight public information sessions throughout the Lowcountry held for the collaborative project that supports the documentation and preservation of these historic African American communities.

Members of the Gullah Geechee community, including Kesha Jenkins, hope the grant can help them show others their history through tourism, not losing historic communities in the area and preserving specific landmarks.

“We have a new community center and it’s a struggle to keep that up with developers coming in,” Jenkins says. “We have historical things that are going on in there; we want to preserve it for the future.”

Some at the meeting Thursday, including Richard Habersham shared how important parts of their history have already been lost, highlighting the importance of using this grant to protect what is left.

“Right now, I hate to say it, four mile is gone; it’s not that it’s gone but there’s no documentation,” Habersham says. “People don’t have that documentation, but if other people can’t see that this community is worth saving, it will be gone.”

The deadline for community participation in the project is Oct. 2. For more information on the project or to give feedback, click here.

The remaining community meetings will be in-person from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

• Aug. 7 at J.E. Clyburn Wiltown Community Center, 5779 Parkers Ferry Rd., Adams Run

• Aug. 10 at Cynthia G. Hurd Library, 1735 N. Woodmere Dr., West Ashley

• Aug. 14 at Chicora Cherokee Elementary (Media Center) 3100 Carner Ave., North Charleston

• Aug. 17 at Johns Island County Library, 3531 Maybank Highway, Johns Island

The city will be holding a Zoom meeting on Aug. 21. Click here to register.