Ribbon cutting held for Gullah Geechee Heritage Trail Demonstration Project

The work to remember and preserve the presence of the Gullah Geechee people and their impact in North Carolina continues.
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 7:28 PM EST
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NAVASSA, N.C. (WECT) - The work to remember and preserve the presence of the Gullah Geechee people and their impact in North Carolina continues.

The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans from around the Southern Coastal area.

On Saturday afternoon, a group came together for the Heritage Trail Demonstration Project ribbon cutting.

Veronica Carter is on the board of directors for the North Carolina Gullah Geechee Culture Heritage Trail. She says the demonstration project and ribbon cutting is a big first step in history perseveration.

“Gullah Geechee history is American history. And we want to ensure that everyone knows and understands it, and learns more about the people that once made this, frankly, this region, very prosperous.”

She says she hopes the trail will help educate people who are not familiar with the Gullah Geechee.

“The enslaved people who came here from Africa, who because of their expertise they were used here to do rice plantations and to grow the rice and brought other skills and kept that part of Africa with them and that’s what we want other people to know about.”

Carter says Gullah Geechee culture is a part of American history. She says the proposed trail will include signs and other markers that teach people about historical events and landmarks.

“What we decided as a board was that we wanted to take the history that is North Carolina, and be able to show people that there is other history here that hasn’t really been captured and recorded.”

Many people came together to celebrate the occasion and what they say is a first step in building the heritage trail.

“This is a way of taking some pathways that were already planned by some of the municipalities in the county, and making sure that as they pass through and pass by those historic sites that they are recognized.”

Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis, who is Gullah Geechee, says this is a big first step.

“Now I got a better feeling for where I’m at in this world, right. Where we are fit now, where I fit then and where I’m going. So yeah, you can’t, you can’t beat it. This is momentous, it really is,” said Willis.

Many say they hope to see the full plans come to fruition, as they work to keep history alive one step at a time.

“I’m a big fan and believer of history. I think if you don’t know your history, then you really don’t know yourself. And yet you’re doomed to repeat mistakes,” said Carter.