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Gullah Past, Present & Future

Past
Gullah people of today are descendants of enslaved Africans from various ethnic groups of west and central Africa who were forced to work on the plantations of coastal South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. Because of their geographic protection from outsiders and strong sense of family and community, they maintained a separate creole language and developed distinct culture patterns, which included more of the African cultural tradition than African-American population in other parts of the United States. People chose to live the isolated lifestyle with their homes, their families, their language, and their way of life – a slow-paced life among majestic trees, tidal marshes, and dirt roads traversed by ox and mule carts. Thus, within these rural communities, people were able to maintain their language, arts, crafts, religious beliefs, folklore, rituals and food preferences that are distinctly connected to their West African roots. The C&W Connection, which runs Gullah Heritage Trail Tours, was founded by a prominent Gullah family and the initials C&W are from the sir names of Reginald Campbell and Sarah Williams respectively.

The C&W Connection started as an organized family club and was eventually made into an LLC. C&W Connection was first founded to raise funds to take care of family members, but has since grown to acquire real estate, run the tours, and be involved in the community while promoting the culture and values.

Present
The C&W Connection and Gullah Heritage Trail Tours are still run by prominent Gullah families who have been native to the area since the early 1900s. Family members who collaboratively run these companies are educators of the culture and are involved in various aspects of the community such as property usage, churches, town councils, taxation and more. They continue to be a first hand knowledge source of their culture and tradition and encourage the preservation of cultural values. They care deeply for the community, and show their support by staying extremely involved. Members of the families also continue to sit on the board of a local bank and are involved in cleaning crews to preserve the landscape of Hilton Head Island.

Future
Gullah Heritage Trail Tours focuses on involving youth in the Gullah culture as a way to promote the spread of their values in the future. Traditions have been passed down from family to family and we are always working to continue this tradition. The Gullah/Geechee Corridor also emphasizes youth and is a strong force in continuing such traditions. The Corridor was established and authorized by Congress in the National Heritage Areas Act of 2006. Due to the establishment of the Corridor, Gullah culture has been and will continue to be nationally recognized and protected. In the near future, there will be museums along this Corridor – which runs along the coast from North Carolina to Florida – to display the culture and traditions of the Gullah people. There are also Hilton head activities and other things to do in Hilton head to experience the culture.

Tour Highlights

  • Gullah Family Compounds
  • Old Debarkation Point
  • Old One-room School House
  • Plantation Tabby Ruins
  • First Freedom Village Historic Marker

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Hours and Location

Pick Up Location
70 Honey Horn Drive
Hilton Head Island, SC
Monday - Sunday
8:00am - 5:00pm