Gullah Geechee Culture Celebrated at Arboretum

Sweetgrass basket traditions keeper Anastatia Ketchen assists patrons following the presentation
Curley Key, left, a Gullah/Geechee descendant of Cosmo, announces the March 18 dedication of Freedom Park as Doris White, right, looks on

The Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor represents the significant history of the Gullah-Geechee people for maintaining their cultural traditions, and for being a reflection of the values of ingenuity, pride, and perseverance. Historically the Gullah Geechee people are descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and Sea Island cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic coast and originated from the region of West Africa.

Ted Johnson, community engagement specialist for the National Park Service Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve & Fort Caroline National Memorial, speaks with guests following the program.
Anastatia Ketchen is a legacy keeper of the Gullah Geechee culture. The Charleston South Carolina native and sweetgrass traditions keeper, recently shared her culture in music, dance and song for “A Voice of the Gullah/Geechee Nation” at the the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The artist, published author, teacher and African Drummer was joined by Gullah/Geechee Nation leaders Minister of Information Elder Carlie Towne of Goose Creek, South Carolina, and Assembly of Representatives member Glenda Simmons Jenkins, who opened the presentation with an ancestral tribute and remembrance ceremony.  Activities were a celebration of the contributions of Gullah/Geechee people in northeast Florida and the communities where they lived and thrived. The day also included visual presentation that provided participants opportunities to recreate and reflect on the beauty of  Gullah/Geechee culture. Photos by Rep. Glenda Simmons Jenkins.

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