Georgia’s Gullah Geechee culture reflects on the importance of Juneteenth

As we reflect on the significance of Juneteenth, some of the heritage and traditions that endured after slavery can be found right here in Georgia.

Griffin Lotson is a seventh generation Gullah Geechee and vice chair of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Commission.

Gullah Geechee are descendants of west and central Africans who were enslaved and brought to the coastal South to work on rice and cotton plantations.

Many stayed on the coast after being freed, retaining much of their African heritage.

“We’re the only culture in America, that has this birth on something called slavery. As horrific as slavery was, and is, this culture was birthed out of that because our isolation,” Lotson said. “We have a rich base in trying to keep our culture alive.”

Lotson says the climate of the United States and demands for equality mean more people are learning about African-American history.

“I would say a lot of people did not know a lot about Juneteenth. They certainly didn’t know about the Gullah Geechee, but I want people to know that the fabric of America is embedded in those enslaved individuals that made America rich.”

“I want the people to know that we play a major part in an America’s history and it’s time that we own it,” Lotson said. “And it’s time that we appreciate that history.”