Althea Sumpter is available for
       speaking engagements to share
       her stories of growing up Gullah
       Geechee. She also shares her
       techniques for documenting 
       and preserving cultures.              
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gullah Geechee elders with knowledge
    of the cultural past are dying out. Elders        from  the Coosawhatchie Senior Center          asked Althea to preserve their stories of        growing  up surrounded by  rice  fields.
    One elder told her:  "I did not grow up
    during slavery time,   but I  know hard

Writing Journal

Schooled by the Elders: Things They Don't Tell Just Anybody

Growing Up Gullah . . . and Other Southern Tales

                                                        My uncle would tell me to make sure I brought my recorder when I drove
                                                                             down to the island from Atlanta so we could have family time. The relatives
                                                                             on St. Helena Island got used to seeing me drag my research field kit along
                                                                             every time I came home. Then I would pull out an audio recorder, video camera
                                                                             or my still camera and document every part of life on the island. They would
                                                                             tell me stories.       
                                                                "The ghosts are dying": my grandmother's words describing the link
                                                              to those who have come before. Linking with the past is what I felt I was doing
                                                                               when an elder cousin asked for me to sit with her to hear more stories,
                                                              and then she told me about her grandfather who "came over in the boat."
                                                                               I was holding the hands of a cousin who learned about life from an enslaved
                                                              African. She died a few weeks later — the link to that ghost, broken.     






     Finding Your Way Home  workshop
     is a way to learn about online
     resources to search for your family
     story. Unless you are Indigenous
     American, your  cultural heritage is
     the story of immigration. Learn how
     to find your origin story.