Georgetown museum celebrates Gullah people, culture

Newly opened Georgetown museum celebrates Gullah history.

A museum in Georgetown will educate people about a little-known part of our region's history.

The newly-opened Gullah museum celebrates the former slave culture.

"This net represents the capturing of enslaved Africans," explained museum owner and curator Andrew Rodrigues, pointing out the meaning behind a quilt representing Gullah history.

The Gullah people cultivated the rice fields in the 1700 and 1800s, making plantation owners into very wealthy men.

Rodrigues is quick to point out, the slaves' contribution was more than just physical labor.

"All the knowledge used in the rice culture from the time it was introduced until the time it ended in 1910 was based on knowledge provided by the enslaved Africans."

Though the Gullah museum is tiny, it's filled with interesting tidbits.

Like tools used in the rice and indigo trades. Tabby, a Gullah cement made from seashells, and food and language the Gullah people contributed to Southern culture.

"When you read the history books, they don't talk about the real role that enslaved Africans played," Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues and his wife also give lectures about Gullah culture at the museum and in other towns.

Their intent is to educate and inspire.

"When young people know their history, they know what their ancestors contributed, they can walk a little taller, they walk with their chest out."

The slave people were called Gullah in the Carolinas, and Geechee in Georgia and Florida.

There's now federal recognition of the Gullah-Geechee corridor in the Southeast.

And Rodrigues says he hopes the museum helps people fill in the gaps of Gullah history.

"We want to let people know where they came from and where they have the ability to go."

Rodrigues says some people in the area still speak the Gullah among themselves, a sign that Gullah remains alive today.

The museum is on King street in Georgetown.