Beaufort's Annual Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration Highlights Sea Islands' Gullah, Geechee Culture & History

Jul 03, 2013, 10:05 ET from Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

BEAUFORT, S.C., July 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration, an annual festival that recognizes the Gullah heritage and its ties to West and Central Africa, as well as the Lowcountry, returns to Beaufort from Nov. 7-9. The event is hosted by the Penn Center, a museum and cultural center situated on the site of the first school for freed slaves and established during the Civil War by Pennsylvania Quaker missionaries. Heritage Days Celebration encourages attendees to immerse themselves in the Gullah culture through educational and entertaining events.

Also, Penn Center hosts the Community Sing, held every third Sunday from September to May to highlight African-American tradition through song, and its Labor Day Celebration on the Green at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.

"The event draws both locals and tourists to celebrate an important part of American history that is unique to our region," said Robb Wells, tourism division executive for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Traditionally, the Gullah people live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia. They represent the descendents of West and Central Africans brought to the region during the slave trade and are credited with preserving more African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African-American community within the United States.

They speak an English-based Creole language that contains many African words and significant influences from African languages. Gullah storytelling, cuisine, music, crafts, farming and fishing traditions can be traced back to West and Central African cultures.

In 1861, Union troops freed the 1,000 slaves on Sea Islands, the first to be freed during the war. Many went on to serve in the Union Army's First South Carolina Volunteers.

For more information, visit or call (843) 838-2432.

About the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce
The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce represents the city of Beaufort, the second oldest city in South Carolina. Founded by the British in 1711, the city has a rich history that dates back centuries with ties to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The city generates approximately two million visitors annually, and is regarded as one of the most diverse communities because of its historic character and prominent architecture.

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SOURCE Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce