March 12, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - GoPack.com checks in with senior wide receiver Bryan Underwood, as he travels to South Carolina with his Africana Studies class to learn about the history of the Gullah/Geechee culture.
Bryan Underwood's Spring Break Blog #2:
On Monday, we went to St. Helena Island and met with Queen Quet – the head of the Gullah/Geechee nation. She went to Columbia and Fordham University and is very well educated and she goes around and tries to unite people and bring forth an awakening. She takes her job very seriously and advocates to get things built and improved. She is trying to keep the culture alive.
We were at the Penn Center, which used to be a school for formerly enslaved Africans (We learned that it is dehumanizing to call them slaves. They were African people who were enslaved). The people at the Penn Center want to preserve the history and culture of the Gullah Geechee people.
This area was one place where there was no slavery and where the formerly enslaved could be safe. Back in the 60s when the KKK wanted to march here the sheriff wouldn’t let them. Martin Luther King came and stayed there and he was safe there.
Queen Quet has a cousin who is 101 now who was there when Martin Luther King was there.
We learned a lot more about the language of the people and I’ve decided I really want to study it. Gullah is more of an African language and Geechee has more English words. I could understand pieces of words from the sentence but it’s hard to catch. Most people at the Penn Center speak it. Back in the day the people weren’t allowed to speak it because they thought they were planning a revolt.
It was pretty amazing to walk around and know that I was walking where Martin Luther King once walked. And then to be on that island where formerly enslaved people were able to find refuge was a great experience. I learned that the south wasn’t the only place where people were enslaved. Queen Quet told us that Manhattan had the second-largest auction place for Africans.
Yesterday was a day of community service. We were with a group of students from Emory University and we all went to work on some land on Lady’s Island. They are trying to fix up a place where the Gullah Geechee people can have a retreat center and it needs a lot of work. We worked outside trying to fix damages and clean up. We found a lot of old trash.
That was also pretty eye-opening. We talked and took breaks and changed the songs on our iphones. We only worked about four hours but it was hard work. Then I thought about the enslaved people who had to work sunup to sundown. I thought about how they couldn’t talk to anybody and how they probably planned all day how they could run away.
We went back to the beach house yesterday afternoon and I went down to the beach to run sprints to make sure I keep my body in football shape.