Gullah Geechee Summer Programming Series – 2020

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We have moved many of our educational programs on-line for the summer due to pandemic concerns. We also have created free guides to help you experience Gullah Geechee heritage from home with books, podcasts, films, and traditional music.

Upcoming Events

Preserving and Sharing Culture: “Growing Up a Gullah Girl”
July 18, 2020 | 2 pm 
HOW TO WATCH | Program will be shared on-line for pre-registrants only.

Save-the date to join us for an afternoon with Reverend DeMett E. Jenkins as she brings us again her program, “Growing Up a Gullah Girl.” Almost 100 people joined us the last time she shared stories and her experiences growing up a Gullah girl, including traditions, foods and spirituals passed down for generations among families on Johns Island, South Carolina. Program is free but pre-registration will be required. Telephone and on-line registration will open up on July 6, 2020.

Preserving Traditional Arts |Gullah Geechee and African Basketmaking
July 18, 2020 | 2 pm 
HOW TO WATCH | Program will be shared on-line for pre-registrants only.

Save-the-date to join us for a small-group conversation with a fifth-generation Gullah Geechee basketmaker. Sweetgrass basketry, one of the most well-known of Gullah Geechee craft traditions, is an extension of cultural continuity from West African rice cultivation and agriculture.  Sweetgrass artistry is prominent in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where the creativity of the local artisan basketmakers, and the sweetgrass basketmaking tradition has been recognized nationally by the Smithsonian and other institutions for its intrinsic artistic value.  Roadside sweetgrass basket stands are the most visible aspect of Gullah Geechee culture displayed along U.S. Highway 17. A portion of the highway was designated as the Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway in 2006, the same year the sweetgrass basket became South Carolina’s official state craft  Program is free but pre-registration will be required and limited. On-line and telephone registration will open on July 6, 2020.

Virtual Tour: Lives of the Enslaved on Kingsley Plantation (Jacksonville, Florida)
August 8, 2020 | 2 pm
HOW TO WATCH | Program will be streamed from the Facebook page for the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many people traveled South to Florida from the Carolinas and Georgia. Some, like Zephaniah Kingsley, sought to make their fortunes by obtaining land and establishing plantations. Many others were enslaved and forced to come to Florida to work on those plantations, their labor providing great wealth to the people who owned them. Some of the enslaved would later become free landowners or maroons, struggling to keep their footing in a dangerous time of shifting alliances and politics as control over “La Florida” was sought by the Native Americans, Spanish, British and Americans.  Join us as Ranger Ted Johnson of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) introduces to the history of Kingsley Plantation and shows us the well-preserved. tabby cabins of the enslaved that still stand and have important stories to tell.

Sonic Nights: Why a night at Sonic may be one of the best things you can do in Charleston right now

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By Mark A. Leon

It was a cinematic dream; an addictive show you couldn’t stop watching; it was Charleston meets “Dazed and Confused”. This was the scene at Sonic on Folly Road on James Island Sunday night. Over a Signature Cherry Limeade and Strawberry Lemonade and the comfort of our car, we enjoyed a remarkably entertaining night of people watching.

With limited access to parks, malls, or movie theaters, the entire high school community, and remnants from Folly Beach congregated to Sonic for drinks, food, dancing, laughing, and just an all-around sense of togetherness.

The high school boys sported their floppy hair and baseball caps, patterned shorts from Brooks Brothers while leaning on their trucks trying to impress the girls. The girls laughed but appreciated the attention and boyish charm of their admirers.

Directly in front of us, one of the high school boys lifted the hood of his oversized status symbol to check the oil while three others played a game with the tennis balls hanging off the back of their trucks.

Another group danced in the median while the cool friends just watched with their hands in their pockets.

All throughout, you can sense and see the wandering eyes knowing many are thinking “is this the best it will ever be?”.

There was a sense of nostalgia last night. As much as things change, so much stays the same. It was a carefree feeling that left us smiling from cheek to cheek.

Thank you Sonic and to the next generation for finding comfort in the simple things and appreciating all your relationships.

Why is New York winning the war on COVID-19 while the Carolinas struggle for answers? – Commentary

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By Mark A. Leon

The narrative has changed. Several months ago, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were the apex of the COVID-19 spike. North and South Carolina required anyone coming to the Carolinas from one of these hot spots to self-quarantine for 14 days by the state government agencies.

Last week, all that changed, and now anyone coming from the Carolina’s to New York requires a self-quarantine for 14 days. Why did this flip? Was it strength in leadership, better protocols, or hundreds of years of history? To put some context around this, we must look at the numbers first:

  • The population of New York State is 19.45 Million
  • North and South Carolina combined population is 15.64 Million (80% of New York’s population
  • In the last 7 days, the number of new confirmed cases daily in New York is 20% of the number in the Carolinas
  • Based on raw numbers and percentage of the population, the apex of the spike has shifted

Back to the question of why? Why is New York trending toward recovery and the Carolina’s setting us back? The answer rests in the value of community and cultural origins


Western Europe is a melting pot of cultural and religious communities each with unique traditions, values, and beliefs, but when the pandemic became a global issue that affected everyone, each and every country bonded together for the common good of minimizing the risk of spread. It was not about wealth, status, or economics, but sustainability for the future of the whole.

While Western Europe is trending in a positive direction due to collective isolation and adhering to a collective principle of a sense of community first, the United States is trending in a negative direction.

We now have to look at origins and how New York has closely carried the ideology of Western European life into the framework of their daily existence today.

Cultural Origins

New York City built its roots from communities seeking freedom from religious persecution and cultural bias. Most were poor and disenfranchised who sought a place where they can value freedom and work hard to rebuild. New York became individual pockets of communities, proud and rich in tradition, hope, and faith with the common goals of sustaining their roots and building a home free from adverse surroundings.

The central theme of each neighborhood was that the whole was stronger than the parts. In times of need and adversity, it was the collective sense of the whole greater than the parts that maintained that strength and passion for perseverance. From the Gangs of New York to Harlem Nights to Jewish roots on the Lower East Side, New York City has co-existed in its differences and thus its unspoken commonalities.

Now let us move 600 miles south.

The Carolinas began to lay a foundation very differently. It was a land vast and pure with untapped resources and land for all the eye to see. It caught the eye of rich proprietors that purchased land unseen and utilized capitalistic thinking to build empires centered around wealth and fortune.

The early settlers of the Carolina’s did not escape persecution or seek a community-based sense of belonging. These were wealthy land owners that settled lands through the slave trade system, cropped natural resources, and built the new empire stained by greed. There was no common struggle that brought a sense of community.

Why is the South failing while the North is beginning to recover from the spread of COVID-19?

Both New York and the Carolinas have implemented protocols, though some less strict than others, but the cultural make-up of each region is the underlying variable on why one region is succeeding while the other is struggling.

Families, neighborhoods, churches, temples, and cultural traditions are all factors that contribute to an idealogy that in times of need, lead a collective action to stick together to overcome adversity. Throughout history, the world has faced enemies head-on and it is those pure of heart that put the greater good ahead of themselves that come out victorious.

The Carolinas and other parts of the country must release themselves from the roots of their “me first” traditions and find a way to seek out community in order to overcome this latest enemy. We have a common adversary, so we must have a unified front to see a pathway that leads us back to a life of normalcy.

Remembering the Battle of Sullivan’s Island – June 28, 1776

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Battle of Sullivan’s Island
Battle of Sullivan’s Island Definition: The Battle of Sullivan’s Island was a military conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in North America during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). The year and date that the Battle of Sullivan’s Island took place on June 28, 1776. The battlefield in which the British and American Forces fought during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island was located near Charleston, South Carolina. Sullivan’s Island was a large island commanding the entrance to Charleston harbor. British frigates had scouted the area in May and observed the construction of the American fort on Sullivan’s Island. The Battle of Sullivan’s Island ended in victory for the American colonists.

Overview and Summary of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island
The Battle of Sullivan’s Island took place on June 28, 1776 near Charleston, South Carolina when the British army and fleet attacked Charleston.  The entrance to Charleston Harbor was protected by sandbanks. A sandbank Is similar to a reef and a navigation, or grounding, hazard.  the channels through these sandbanks lead directly to the end of Sullivan’s Island. where the Americans had built a fort of 16 feet wide palmetto logs filled with sand. General William Moultrie commanded the fort and it was named in his honor, Fort Moultrie. The British fleet sailed into the harbor to attack the fort. The fleet consisted of 9 man-of-war ships carrying 300 heavy cannon. The cannons were fired but the balls from the ships’ guns were stopped by the soft sand-filled palmetto logs. During the conflict a flag commissioned by the colonial government and designed by William Moultrie was shot away and fell down outside the fort. A patriot called Sergeant Jasper rushed out, seized the broken flagstaff, and again set it up on the rampart. General Henry Clinton and his troops landed on an island and was trying to cross to the further end of Sullivan’s Island and were under fire from Americans on the beach. Unexpectedly the water deepened, and the British had to jump aboard their ships to save themselves from drowning. General Henry Clinton ordered a retreat and the fleet also sailed away from Charleston

Battle of Sullivan’s Island – The Liberty Flag aka the Moultrie Flag
The above pictures of the battle show the flag that was designed by Colonel William Moultrie. The flag was commissioned by the colonial government and the design was a blue flag with a white crescent saying LIBERTY on it. The flag became known as the Moultrie flag or the Liberty Flag. Later on during the Revolutionary War in the 1780 siege Charleston was taken by the British and the flag was taken. The ‘Liberty Flag’ was later reclaimed by American forces at the end of the war, the flag was returned to the city of Charleston by General Nathanael Greene.

The Importance and Significance of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island

Significance of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island: The significance of the conflict was that the small force of militia were able to force the retreat of 9 British ships – and the news was spread as propaganda for the Patriot cause.

*Courtesy of Land of the Brave Info

Liberty Flag Flown at Fort Moultrie

To commemorate the 140th anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller, here are some of her most famous and important quotes

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Today would have marked the 140th birthday of one of the most courageous spirits in history, Helen Keller. Helen was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and became one of the most inspiring figures in American history.

To commemorate her birth, here are some of her most memorable quotes:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

“No one has a right to consume happiness without producing it.”

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”

“True education combines intellect, beauty, goodness, and the greatest of these is goodness.”

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”

“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”

“It is said that success is happiness. I think goodwill and service to all men are the true kind of happiness.”

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

“The best and most beautiful thing in life is the friendship that springs out of the heart, as fragrances out of the flower.”

Warrior Surf Foundation Announces 4th Annual Surfboard Auction – Online Until August 22, 2020

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Charleston, S.C.- June 26, 2020- Charleston nonprofit?Warrior Surf Foundation, that works to provide free surf therapy, yoga, wellness classes, and community to Veterans struggling with PTSD and other mental health challenges, is excited to launch its?4th?Annual Surfboard Auction.

From now through August 22, surfers can go online and bid on a collection of 10 beautiful boards from companies like Ocean’s Surf ShopSecula Surf, and Rozbern, including two autographed boards from music legend Jimmy Buffett’s private quiver. A variety of other items like a hand-painted cork yoga mat from Yoloha Yoga, private fishing charter with Charleston Fly, and aluminum beach prints will also be up for auction. 

One hundred percent of all bids will go directly to Warrior Surf Foundation. By bidding, participants will not only help to provide critical services to our nation’s veterans, but they will assist in spreading awareness about the mental health crisis facing so many who have served our country.

To view items and place bids,?please visit?

Alive online streaming of all the items up for auction will take place on August 19 at 5 p.m. EST.

More about WSF:

Founded on Folly Beach, S.C. in May 2015 by American combat veterans and surfers, Warrior Surf Foundation (WSF) addresses post-service transition challenges such as post-traumatic stress, moral injury, survivor’s guilt, and TBI through surf therapy, yoga, wellness sessions, and community. WSF’s Surf Therapy Program strives to enhance the psychological and physical well-being of Veterans, active duty service members, and their families through the experience of surfing. For more information, visit or follow WSF on Facebook and Instagram.

PTSD Awareness Day is June 27, 2020 – Here are some resources for those affected

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PTSD can affect us at home or abroad. It has impacted millions of Americans with many resulting in suicide. It is difficult for many of us to imagine bearing witness to a traumatic event and having to deal with the anxiety, nightmares, depression, and mental health issues it can bring on, but there are resources to help.

As part of PTSD Awareness Day, we wanted to share some valuable and most free resources if you or someone you know is suffering from PSTD. Together we can comfort and begin to heal.

Face Mask Rules for the City of Charleston (Begins Midnight – Wednesday, July 1, 2020)

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Edited June 27, 2020

The ordinance states that the use of a face mask is required for every person within the city for the following conditions:

  • All restaurants and retail stores that include but are not limited to salons, barbershops, grocery stores, pharmacies, or other buildings open to the public.
  • While interacting with people in outdoor spaces including but not limited to curbside pickup, delivery, and service calls.
  • While providing public or commercial transportation including tours.
  • While walking in public where maintaining a six-foot distance between people is not possible
  • When participating in a permitted or allowable gathering

Those exempt from wearing a mask include the following:

  • Any person who is unable to safely wear a face-covering due to age, an underlying health condition, or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others;
  • Any person traveling in their personal vehicles;
  • When a person is alone or only with other household members in an enclosed space;
  • While participating in an outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of six (6) feet from other people at all times;
  • While actively drinking, eating or smoking;
  • In an outdoor or unenclosed area appurtenant to retail establishments or food service establishments in which social distancing of at least six feet is possible and observed;
  • For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face-covering;
  • For children under 10 years old, provided that adults accompanying children ages two through 10 shall use reasonable efforts to cause those children to wear face coverings while inside the enclosed area of any retail establishment or food service establishment;
  • In private, individual offices;
  • When complying with directions of law enforcement officers;
  • In settings where it is not feasible to wear a face covering, including when obtaining or rendering goods or services such as the receipt of dental services or while swimming; and,
  • Police officers, firefighters, and other first responders when not practical or engaged in a public safety matter of an emergency nature.

13 Quotes about life, love, and meaning (Just when we really need it)

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“When you look deep into the eyes of another and look past the physical differences, you will see a light kindling in the soul burning the flame of life’s purpose and then you will know we are all alike driving by the simple pursuit of love” – Unity

“Time may pass and distance will create barriers, but when I close my eyes and extend my hand, I can feel your fingers between mine. Friends feel your pain with the skip of a heartbeat and know when you need saving. It is a blessing to be surrounded by this energy flow of love.” – Friendship

“Love is the culmination of the pure connection between two souls that starts with the simplicity of a smile and ends with a promise of an eternal bond. Love is power without prejudice, fear, or judgment. It is the one core energy that fuels our existence and gives us the strength to achieve our dreams.” – Love

“When the world was created, there need to be a bed to rest your head and open arms to hold you close: there was family. There needed to be a place to laugh and cry and feel the strength of emotional freedom: there was family. There needed to be a place to call home no matter how lost you got in life: there was family. There needed to be a foundation for unconditional love and acceptance: there was family. There needed to be a group the cheered you on in completion, lifted you up when you were down and always smile at every turn: There was family” – Family

“You are my shelter from the cold. In a world of dreams floating like clouds over a horizon illuminated by the warmth of the sun, you are the vessel drifting through the sky showing the world with a rainbow of love. You protect me from fear, bath me with rain, caress me with your touch and excite me with the sexual spirituality of the mind and body. I breathe you in and am intoxicated with your enchanting passion.” – Passion

“Sometimes the moment seizes you. It takes hold of your senses and showers you with an explosion of life’s wonders. Let go. Don’t be a hero, don’t be a savior, don’t be a martyr. Just be. The moment will take over the rest.” – Moments

“Life is a tapestry of hope, desire, pain, love, heartache, and passion woven with flesh and blood to create the gift of humanity. To find balance; find ease is the potion that will run through your body fueling your existence and laying the groundwork for your legacy.” – Life Balance

“You are my best friend because you let me fly while still keeping me grounded. You never let me forget to dream. You dance with me like no one is looking. You get dirty with a rainbow of possibility. I share my world with you because you get me and my weirdness. With you, I can change the world hand in hand. For the laughter, tears, hope, and fears, I Love You.” – Friendship

“When you open your heart and allow it to be broken and shattered like precious glass, then and only then will you feel the passion and ultimately feel alive” – Vulnerability

“At the end of the day, it is about laughter and the connection.” Think about it. Nothing purer, more real, and more fulfilling. – Laughter

“Nothing great happens when you hold back. Surrender to your feelings” – Risk

“Sometimes the brightest lights come from the darkest places. Find your light and shine.” – Adversity

“Mommy, I love how you tell me a story every night and open up my imagination as you tuck me in and kiss the ghosts away. I love how you smile when I run up and jump on you for my first hug of the day. I love how you think I am the best painter, dancer, and singer in the world. I love how you think I am your greatest gift. Most of all, I love that whatever mistakes I make, you never stop loving me.” – Motherhood

All original quotes by Mark A. Leon

David W. Sox, MD shares a beautiful family portrait from 1956 and an incredible Charleston story that dates back to 1900

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A picture can tell a thousand words or at least an incredible Charleston story whose origins date back 120 years.

Origin and history of the image

Willie and Viola Zobel were married in 1900, in a home on Spring Street. They had five sons and two daughters.

  • William
  • Rudolph
  • Alvin
  • Raymond
  • Eugene
  • Lucille
  • Helen

All are in the picture except for the youngest son, Eugene, who was always the photographer.

There were fifteen first cousins, twelve of whom are in the picture. The other three were older and away in military service or summer employment.

The location of this image is Folly Beach. in front of the beach house of Captain William Zobel, on Arctic Avenue, and the picture was taken in 1956.

Of the twelve cousins in the photo, nine remain alive. The oldest living cousin is 92 and healthy. not in the photo.

Longevity is a Zobel family trait. Willy and Viola lived to 89 in the age before there were treatments for cholesterol, hypertension, or other conditions. All their offspring are deceased but Lucille and Helen lived to 98 and 97, several of the brothers well into their 90’s as well.

David is the skinny kid in the middle of the front row, plaid shirt, holding my Brownie Hawkeye camera in the right hand.

Willie Zobel and his brother were in the house demolition business in the early 1900s when many Charleston homes were already centuries old and dilapidated.

In the photo, Captain. (US Navy) William Zobel, the owner of the Folly Beach house, is in the upper left. His only son Billy attended Citadel and then the USN Academy, attained the rank of Admiral, and is the oldest cousin retired in Virginia Beach at 92.
Willie and Viola had their 50th wedding anniversary in 1950. That weekend, a picture of the available cousins was taken in the Zobel home at 25 Peachtree Street. 65 years later, we had a brief reunion on the Edisto near my sister’s home in Denmark.

About David W. Sox, MD

  • David is a 76-year-old retired physician, MUSC Class of 1969. He recently attended the 50-year reunion.
  • David resides in Roseville, CA but will always consider South Carolina his home.
  • David was coached by the great John McKissick in Summerville (track), born in old Roper Hospital.
  • He is the son of Helen Zobel Sox who was the last of her generation and died in 2011.

Story and image courtesy of David. W. Sox, MD