Gullah Days

Gullah Days

Hilton Head Islanders Before the Bridge 1861-1956

by Jr. Barnwell Thomas C., Emory Shaw Campbell and Carolyn Grant

Published by: Blair

372 pages, 9.50 x 8.50 in, 50 photos, 20 news facsimiles, 5 maps

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781949467079
  • Published: February 2020


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The Gullah culture, though borne of isolation and slavery, thrived on the US East Coast sea islands from pre-Civil War times until today, and nowhere more prominently than on Hilton Head Island, SC. On this small barrier island descendants of the first generations of Gullah people continue to preserve Gullah language, customs, arts, and cuisine. The three authors of Gullah Days: Hilton Head Islanders Before the Bridge 1861-1956 are among those descendants, and in this book, they chronicle the amazing history of their secluded community from the Civil War through the 1950s, when real estate development connected Hilton Head Island to the mainland with a bridge.
The history of these Gullah islanders, little celebrated until now, is an amazing American story. Hilton Head Island was one of the first areas liberated by Union troops after Fort Sumter. With plantation owners absent, the society of formerly enslaved Gullah people embarked on the activities of freedom: enlisting in fighting for the Union army; creating the first black-governed community in the South, complete with a police force; and, when formal emancipation arrived, running for office, campaigning, and voting.
This book illustrates in vivid detail the story of that vibrant post-Civil War era and the tangled perils of Reconstruction that followed, along with all of the progress and setbacks of African Americans in the South over 150 years via the lives of Gullah Hilton Head Islanders. Authors rely on the historical records and amazing first-person accounts they have gathered from their relatives and other community members to tell this riveting story.