I Wasn't There in Slavery Time but I Was There in Hard Time:
Stories from the Coosawhatchie Senior Center


  The oral histories of twelve 80- and 90-year-old elders from Jasper County, South Carolina, represent the memories of those who survived  
  enslavement and hard times in the South. These stories, collected between 2005 and 2007, describe growing up in a rice culture
  originating in West Africa, and of retaining cultural habits and language. They are now even more pertinent since most of these individuals
  have passed. They agreed to share their stories for a book that the general public could access rather than a video documentary that
  would require playback technology.
  The Coosawhatchie Senior Center served the elders from Coosawhatchie, Gillisonville, Pineland, Grays, Ridgeland, Point South, Early
  Branch and Pocotaligo for many decades. Through regular activities, meals, and creating crafts passed down from one generation to the
  next, the elders gathered to share their lives shaped by the experience of rural South Carolina and the Gullah Geechee culture.
  As a descendent of this culture from St. Helena Island, South Carolina, Althea has been able to document her culture from an insider's
  perspective. These 80- and 90-year-olds were filled with memories of growing up in families with a history of enslavement and growing rice
  on the plantations that have since become communities on land their families now own.

Photos: Althea Sumpter