Southern Agenda

Lowcountry Legacies

In 1981, when the Penn Center’s Heritage Days began on St. Helena Island, the event consisted of a one-day celebration of Gullah Geechee history and culture. People loved it so much, recalls St. Helena native and cochair of the planning committee Marie Gibbs, organizers had to make it three times longer. This November 10–12, festivities will sprawl across the center’s fifty-acre campus—site of the South’s first school for people freed from slavery. “Our history is a legacy we’re preserving and protecting,” Gibbs says of the Gullah Geechee community. “Here we bring it back out and let you actually see what happened during that time, with music, storytelling, singing, dancing…” That list goes on: fish fry, Lowcountry supper, basketmaking, art, theater, a Saturday morning parade, and a worship service with old-time spirituals and call-and-response prayer Thursday night at the Brick Baptist Church. Don’t miss the chance to imagine that space in 1862, when the Penn School’s inaugural class of eighty pupils congregated for the first time.