Palmer Appointed to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Sean Palmer, director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center, has been appointed to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. Palmer is among seven new commissioners from each of the four states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida – that comprise the corridor.

Commissioners were nominated by the State Historic Preservation Officers and appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Palmer, who studied the Gullah Geechee culture during his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, will serve a three-year term.

“I have always understood the importance of the rich tradition of the Gullah coast, but never could I have imagined being honored by such an appointment,” he said.

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission was created by Congress in 2006 to recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history by African Americans known as the Gullah or Geechee, descendants of enslaved West Africans who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.

Palmer will serve on the commission’s programming committee, working with organizations on partnerships that seek to explore the complexities and rich history and culture of the Gullah Geechee Corridor. UNCW will be among those partnership organizations, Palmer said.

"Next year, our programming slate will be centered around a beautiful exploration of Gullah Geechee culture through the commission’s vast resources and UNCW-established connections,” Palmer said. “People can expect to see movies and documentaries about the region. We hope to invite a plethora of speakers who will help our university explore food pathways, arts, environmental concerns, race, religion, and connections between the Caribbean and the West African coastline. Our theme for next year’s programming slate is ‘A People by the Sea.’”

The Upperman Center is also exploring offering an African American studies elective next spring that focuses on Gullah Geechee culture and a study abroad trip to Senegal next summer.

“Given that UNCW is situated on the coast, we as a community of scholars have a responsibility to explore the Gullah Geechee Corridor as an integral part of our own history,” he said.

-- Venita Jenkins