Tag Archives: Riceboro GA

Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters at the Gathering, Riceboro

I drove down to Riceboro yesterday to see the wonderful work Jim Bacote (above, right) has done with Geechee Kunda and to check out his Gathering, an annual celebration of Geechee and Gullah culture. Jim is passionate about preserving the ways of his culture and it’s tangible. Geechee Kunda is the culmination of his lifelong fascination with this endangered culture. I first met him a couple of years ago when he was still working on his museum and history center so I didn’t get to make any photographs. He invited me to come back and  I’m so glad I finally got to see it yesterday.

The highlight for me was a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters (not to be confused with the McIntosh County Shouters, who organized about a decade before the Geechee Gullah). This group of dedicated men and women share the ring shout with the world and aim for authenticity. They’re historic interpreters of the highest order and preserve a tradition that was thought to be extinct as recently as 1980. Historians believe the ring shout is the oldest surviving African performance tradition in North America. While “shouting” in the vocal sense is a part of the performance, linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner, who spent a lifetime researching the Gullah language and culture, suggested that the term came from the Afro-Arabic word saut. This is a reference to the forward-moving shuffle, during which the feet are not to cross, associated with pilgrimages to the Kabaa at Mecca.

It’s hard not to come away from a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters with a better understanding of a culture that, especially as white Southerners, we have kept at a distance at best or dismissed altogether at worst.

One thing you’ll quickly notice when you’re around the Shouters is their charisma. They’re very passionate about what they’re doing and you can feel it. You not only learn but you’re uplifted, as well.

In 2011, the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters set the Guinness World Record for leading the largest recorded ring shout, during the “Word, Shout, Song” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D. C.

Besides the world record ring shout, the group is also proud to have among their performers Mrs. Butler (above, right), who at 90 is the world’s oldest living ring shouter. She’s amazing.

At the end of the performance, a narrative of Emancipation is re-enacted and is quite powerful. If you couldn’t already tell, I was very moved by these living historians and would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend one of their events.

 

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Poole’s, Riceboro

Riceboro GA Liberty County Block Store Car Wash US Highway 17 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

Thanks to Peter Martin for the identification. He recalls a diner and auto parts store being located here and says there was a large peach or orange “sign” where the car wash is now located.

 

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Vernacular House, Riceboro

Chatman Community Riceboro GA Liberty County African American Vernacular House Ruins Abandoned Clear Cut Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

A recent clear-cutting operation has exposed several historic structures in the nearly forgotten African-American community of Chatman.

Chatman Community Riceboro GA Liberty County African American Vernacular House Ruins Gutted Abandoned Clear Cut Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

Today, Chatman is part of Riceboro and can’t even be found on most maps.

Chatman Community Riceboro GA Liberty County African American Vernacular House Ruins Abandoned Clear Cut Reclamation Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

As of 2015, this house appears to be gone.

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Abandoned Store, Riceboro

Chatman Community Riceboro GA Liberty County African American Vernacular Store 1930s 1940s Falling Front Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

This store, in the Chatman community of Riceboro, likely dates to the 1930s or 1940s. Chatman is an historic African-American community with few other tangible links to its history.

Chatman Community Riceboro GA Liberty County African American Vernacular Store 1930s 1940s Falling Storefront Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

As of late 2015, this building appears to be gone.

 

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Chattel-Style House, Riceboro

Riceboro, Georgia

I first photographed this West Indian-influenced house in August 2008 when it was trimmed in green:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fitzgeraldgeorgia/3823499684/

For an architectural description of chattel houses and photographs by Stephen Mendes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chattel_house

http://mendesco.com/chatelh.htm

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