Encourage • Entertain • Enlighten
Teachers are the unsung heroes (and heroines) of modern society, and I really don’t know how they do what they do. They must compete for children’s attention from distractions like smartphones, iPads, video games, TV and all the social diversions to which kids are prone.
Teaching history to young people must be a mind-numbing experience because few children are interested in anything that happened before they were born. Infusing curiosity is the primary stimulus of learning, and is what every teacher tries to instill in their students. Sometimes the best way to achieve this is to offer a fact or a story that will stir their imagination and make them want to learn more.
As it relates to teaching Black History and using an interesting fact to capture attention, Anita Singleton-Prather is quoted as saying (paraphrased) that “during the middle passage, when slaves were brought from Africa to America, only the strongest survived the harrowing journey”.
As many as 75% of the slaves that came to America arrived via the Lowcountry of South Carolina, which means that many African Americans can trace their roots to that area. It also means that their ancestors were the strongest and bravest survivors of that time in history. This is the kind of fascinating information that will make most kids sit up and pay attention.
Teaching African American History
Let’s face it, reading words on a page and seeing a few photos is boring and not very appealing to most kids today. They were brought-up on movies and Internet video, and textbooks simply cannot hold their attention. This can be a real challenge for teachers, especially when teaching an “uninteresting” topic like history.
The Genesis of African American History
One of the best ways to teach children about the roots of African American history is to show them our new video, “Circle Unbroken”. From Africa and the “Middle Passage” to early traditions and historical realities, they will learn to appreciate the rich and vibrant Gullah culture of the Lowcountry; where black history began in America.
To educate and entertain
“Circle Unbroken” is a moving visual celebration of the Gullah people in words and music narrated by one of America’s foremost cultural historians, Anita Singleton-Prather, and accompanied by The Gullah Kinfolk. This entertaining and enlightening video will appeal to all ages and the irresistible music will have them tapping their toes. People of all races will be moved and come away thinking differently about our shared history.
Gullah cuisine is unique and delicious
Aspects of Gullah cuisine are familiar to many, albeit known under different names: Lowcountry cuisine or southern cooking. This distinction covers food from South Carolina and down through the Georgia coastline. Southern cooking has been greatly influenced by the Gullah people as it shares common ingredients and cooking techniques.
The southern plantations focused on rice cultivation using West Africans who were familiar with rice cultivation in their own lands. After slavery was abolished, rice remained a staple in the Sea Islands and it accompanies many of the Gullah dishes. Rice forms the basis of many one-pot meals, cooked at a slow boil through the day for rich, complex flavors from often simple ingredients.
The Gullah people lived and continued to thrive in the southeastern coast and Sea Islands, and fresh shrimp and fish remain a common ingredient in their cuisine. Shrimp fishing was also a carryover from the plantations after slavery was abolished. Other common ingredients are peas, sorghum and peanuts, ingredients that were thought to have been brought with the Gullah’s ancestors from West Africa.
Gullah cooking utilizes ingredients on hand
Like many local culinary traditions, Gullah recipes use what ingredients are on hand. The island culture made seafood a plentiful ingredient, and fresh, seasonally available produce was also included when available. One ingredient of note is okra; a staple in southern cooking. The small green pods look a bit like a pinwheel when sliced and may be most popular fried. It too was thought to have been brought from West Africa. It can be cooked by other methods such as those slow-boils, grilled or pan-fried.
A common dish, shown here, is okra pan-fried together with shrimp, onions and garlic and served with rice.
Each month we try to feature a person who is instrumental in sharing or advancing the Gullah Culture. Be sure to see our profile of the engaging Sallie Ann Robinson; Gullah Diva Chef and cookbook author.
Anita Singleton-Prather has been designated as “The First Lady of Gullah™”
A native of the Sea Islands in Beaufort County, SC, Anita Singleton-Prather is an educator, singer, actress, storyteller, historian and a director/producer. She is a member of the musical performance group the Gullah Kinfolk, which she founded. The character she plays is “Aunt Pearlie Sue”, which is based on her grandmother and she has been entertaining audiences with Gullah inspired folktales for many years.
An accomplished artist
Some of Anita’s acting roles include Forrest Gump, God’s Gonna Trouble the Water, My Man Done Me Wrong, Circle Unbroken and her Tales From the Land of Gullah aired on PBS. Ron Small, Senior Partner at Anchor Media Group, has worked with Anita on numerous projects over the years with the latest being “Circle Unbroken” (now available on DVD).
Educator and entertainer
Most people are not aware that the vast majority of slaves arrived in America through the sea islands of South Carolina, the birthplace of our Gullah culture. Anita’s stories allow an insight into the history of these African Americans. Her Gullah heritage and broad experience as an actress and storyteller permit her to entertain as she educates. Audiences learn about Gullah customs, music and traditions familiar to some while introducing the past to younger generations. This website showcases a number of Aunt Pearlie-Sue’s most beloved performances.
Tales from the Land of Gullah (DVD)
Prather stars as Aunt Pearlie-Sue in the enchanting program that will bring laughs and tears. Lavish sets, exquisite photography and classic spiritual singing by The Gullah Kinfolk will leave you wanting more. Length: 60:00 (Click here)
Tales from the Land of Gullah for Kids (DVD)
These classic stories are better than ever. Your kids and grandkids will sing, dance and have a ball when Aunt Pearlie-Sue takes over. Length: 44:00 (Click here)
Journey from Africa to America
Cultures, customs, history, beliefs and languages have been passed down to the next generation through storytelling, music and the written word. Anchor Media Group continues this tradition with the launch of the Gullah.TV website and our innovative video, Circle Unbroken. “Circle Unbroken” tells the story of the Gullah Journey from Africa to America and is part musical performance, part documentary and “portrays the origins of the Gullah culture from its early roots in Africa to modern time”. It was shot entirely on location in Charleston, Beaufort and the Sea Islands of South Carolina.
Gullah people are descendants of slaves who lived in the Lowcountry and on the Sea Islands, and developed a unique language and culture. Aunt Pearlie Sue is the performance name for Anita Singleton-Prather, a native of the Sea Islands and founder of The Gullah Kinfolk. Singleton-Prather and her 20-person ensemble spread the cultural history of the Gullah lifestyle through language, dance, music, food and crafts. Singleton-Prather wrote “Circle Unbroken” and narrates the film. “Circle Unbroken” is the latest project from producer Ron Small, who has worked with Aunt Pearlie Sue and The Gullah Kinfolk dozens of times over the past 17 years.
Filming this landmark video required a cast and crew of more than 100 dedicated people. Everyone worked tirelessly to ensure this “history of a people” was told both accurately and respectfully. You can get an idea of what happened during the filming of this project by viewing our behind-the-scenes photos.
Black History in America
It has been estimated that most African-Americans can trace their roots in the United States to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the birthplace of the Gullah culture. One could say that American black history actually began here in the land of Gullah. “They are well known for having preserved more of their African cultural heritage than any other black community in the US, including a creole language that contains strong African influences.” (Source)
The mission of this website, Gullah.TV, is to bring this rich history and unique culture together under one resource intended to preserve and educate all people about the Gullah legacy. Circle Unbroken provides a unique overview of how this culture evolved and what it means to black history in America. Recently we had a public showing of Circle Unbroken at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium/South Carolina State University. Read what they had to say:
“Circle Unbroken – A Gullah Journey from Africa to America was one of the most exciting programs of the year at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium/South Carolina State University. It was also the best attended film, with audiences of all ages and ethnic diversity, including students and the community. In addition to the film, we were treated to an extraordinary live performance by Anita Singleton Prather and the Gullah Kinfolk. The powerful film was equally enjoyed by people with previous Gullah experiences and backgrounds and those for whom this was a first introduction to the rich Gullah culture. This is an important historical and cultural work; a must see for all people.”
I.P. Stanback Museum
South Carolina State University
To get your copy of Circle Unbroken, visit our Gullah. TV online store.