National Archives, historical groups hosting African-American program

The National Archives at Atlanta is expected to highlight the Gullah culture of the low-country coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina this weekend, as part of an observation of “Fibbywerry” (Gullah for “February”) as African-American History Month.

The archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., are planning to partner for a one-day African-American heritage program, on Saturday, from 9 a.m., to 5 p.m., at the archives, located at 5780 Jonesboro Road, in Morrow.

The event is planned to feature presentations on regional African-American communities, Clayton County’s first African-American families, and an exhibit of artifacts from the period of time when slaves were kept in the U.S.

“This event commemorates African-American History Month,” a National Archives news release states. “The events are free and open to the public.”

One of the key components is a presentation, entitled “Are You Gullah Geechee?,” on the Gullah culture, which will be co-hosted by the archives, and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. It is scheduled to last from 9 a.m., to noon.

It is expected to include presentations by Georgia State University Professor Mary B. Ziegler, genealogist D.L. Henderson, and Emma Davis Hamilton, president of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s Metro Atlanta chapter.

“Because of their geographical isolation, the Gullah have been able to preserve more of their African cultural heritage than any other group of Black Americans,” the National Archives news release states. “They speak a Creole language similar to Sierra Leone Krio, use African names, tell African folktales, make African-style handicrafts, and enjoy a rich cuisine based primarily on rice.”

Archives officials also said the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters are also expected to perform. People interested in attending the Gullah presentation are asked to register in advance, by sending an e-mail to gullahprogramatl@gmail.com.

After the Gullah presentation, Historical Jonesboro will host an African-American Arts and Heritage Festival, from 1 p.m., to 5 p.m., with exhibits that include historical photographs, storytelling and musical performances. There will also be a display on “African-American First Families” from the county, which will include a video on the history of African Americans in the county.

The archives is also expected to open a new exhibit, entitled “The Artifacts of Enslavement: The Shackles and Objects of Slavery,” during the day-long program. The exhibit, which features artifacts from a private collection, is expected to remain on display at the archives, until April 14.

Call (770) 968-2100, for more information about the program.