BLACK VOICES

A Unique African-American Culture, Hundreds of Years Old, That Could Go Extinct

FILE - In this May, 17, 2013 photo, the sun rises behind St. Luke Baptist Church in Hog Hammock, a Geechee community on Sapel
FILE - In this May, 17, 2013 photo, the sun rises behind St. Luke Baptist Church in Hog Hammock, a Geechee community on Sapelo Island, Ga. The commission that oversees the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor running through four states on the Southeast coast is beginning a new phase with a new executive director, new office and new voice in projects such as electric transmission lines that could affect the culture. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Growing up in Beaufort, South Carolina, in the 1970s, Pete Marovich often overheard locals speaking “a rapid-fire language that sounded similar to English.” At the time, he had no idea then that it was a dialect that had been passed down from their enslaved African ancestors, or that it was just a small piece of the distinct and rich culture of the Gullah people, who’d maintained a strong connection to their roots as, generation after generation, they remained along the coasts of the Carolinas and Georgia (where they’re known as Geechee).

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