Climate change threatens the coastal Gullah Geechee

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Marquetta Goodwine is used to educating others about her people, the Gullah Geechee, and their traditions, art and history. 

The Gullah Geechee are descendants of enslaved people who live in coastal U.S. communities along the Southeast. Isolation has allowed them to maintain their distinct way of life, including their language, cuisine, spiritual practices and craft traditions like basket weaving.

“That allowed our Africanisms, as others call it, to continue to evolve here in this land but to also amalgamate into this unique Gullah Geechee culture,” said the chieftess of the Gullah Geechee nation, who goes by “Queen Quet.”  

But Queen Quet, who grew up in a Gullah community on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, is now educating others about the pressing threat of climate change. Residents in these communities are at risk of losing their homeland and parts of their heritage because of more frequent storm surges, rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.