Displacement of Gullah Islanders, USA


Description

The Gullah Islands off the eastern U.S coast are home to a unique African-American history and culture.

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Basic Data
NameDisplacement of Gullah Islanders, USA
CountryUnited States of America
ProvinceEast coast of South Carolina
SiteSea Islands
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Deforestation
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSale of a 10,159 acre tract of land (over 2/3 of the island) to Fraser Lumber Company on Hilton Head Island for $600,000 in 1949 (The Gullah People Justice pdf). Construction of a toll bridge in 1956 at a cost of $1.5 million. With a $2.50 toll, over 200,000 people came to Hilton Head in the year after the completion. Twice as many journeyed to the island the next year after the toll was halved, and even more traveled when tolls were eliminated in 1959.

The Gullah area is about 3,189,570 ha
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population180,000-200,000
Start Date1920
Company Names or State EnterprisesHilton Head Toll Bridge Authority from United States of America
Fraser Lumber from Canada
Hilton Head Company from United States of America
Sea Pines company from United States of America
Relevant government actorsUS Government, Town of Hilton Head Island
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Hilton Head Fishing Cooperative, National Association for the Advancement, of Colored People (NAACP), Penn Community Services CenterGullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Penn Community Services Center
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Spoke at United Nations Conference
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherRegulation Changes
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
New legislation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Education
Development of AlternativesIn 1996, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition was founded by Marquetta L. Goodwine who has since been enstooled as Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation. At that time, she saw the need to bring people around the world together in order to protect a branch of Africa’s tree that took root in North America which had became a place of consistent “destructionment” and displacement of Gullah/Geechee people (http://gullahgeecheenation.com/gullahgeechee-sea-island-coalition/).

The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition was the leading organization in the effort to have a Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor that was founded through an act of the United States Congress. The organization continues to work with the citizens of the Gullah/Geechee Nation to insure that their human rights are protected and that the culture continues for the generations to come.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The area witnesses continual displacement with increased tourism.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

National Heritage Act of 2006: designated the coastline from Wilmington, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida as the GullahGeechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, one of the nation's forty National Heritage Areas

References

Hazzard, Dominique T ., ' The Gullah People, Justice, and the Land on Hilton Head Island: A Historical P erspective' (2012). Honors Thesis Collection. Paper 60.
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Links

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United Nations session hears Gullah language plea
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The Gullah/Geechee Fight for Self-Determination
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The Gullah People, Justice, and the Land on Hilton Head Island: A Historical Perspective
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Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition
[click to view]

Other Documents

Swing bridge built in 1956 connecting the Sea Islands to the mainland
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4-lane bridge built to replace the 2-lane swing bridge
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The Gullahs of Squire Pope Road: A case study in social impact assessment Case study in social impact assessment of a highway project that was planned by the Incorporated Town of Hilton Head to divide one of the last remaining native Gullah communities.
[click to view]

Ward 1 Master Plan for Gullah Sea Islanders Developed by the Incorporated Town of Hilton Head
[click to view]

Marquetta Goodwine, Head of State for Gullah/Geechee Nation Part of her work includes dealing with matters of food security and food safety for the Gullah/Geechee Nation daily within her nation and representing her people in these discussions at the United Nations.
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan

Gullah/Geechee study area stretches along the southeastern coast roughly from the Cape Fear River near the North Carolina/South Carolina line to the St. John's River near Jacksonville, Florida and 30 miles inland following estuarine boundaries. Includes the 79 barrier islands that hug the coast.
Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015
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