Hilton Head Island committee approves Gullah education program initiative

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 3:28 PM EDT
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Back in 2019 the town of Hilton Head designated 16 priority initiatives to improve Gullah life on the island. Council has already passed half of those items, but some community members feel like one item is not getting enough attention.

“Please stop wasting the town’s resources if we are not serious about cultural preservation and the advancement of a community that is diverse and inclusive,” Chairman, HHI Land and Cultural Preservation Task Force Lavon Stevens said.

At today’s community services and public safety committee meeting, about 10 people spoke in front of the committee. All of them voicing frustration.

“I’m wondering what the problem is? What the problem is of telling the story of these people who are here?” Founder, Gullah Museum of HHI Louise Miller Cohen said.

This committee tabled an initiative last month that would require all town employees to be educated on Gullah history and did so without public feedback.

“The fact that it was not discussed publicly, committee members really had no idea what the concerns were,” Ward 1 HHI Town Council Alexander Brown said.

Glenn Stanford sits on the CSPSC and town council. He explains that decision.

“There was some concern last month about some of the language that was in there and getting a clear interpretation. Those questions have been answered,” Ward 6 HHI Town Council Glenn Stanford said.

After public comments, committee members agreed the Gullah education program should be approved.

“In and of itself it may not be the answer but it does have benefits to this community as a whole,” Ward 4 HHI Town Council David Aimes said.

The vote was unanimous.

Councilman Brown, who is Gullah himself, is pleased with the progress made Tuesday.

“When you think about the history of Hilton Head and all those studies and reports and no action behind them, to now see that we’re taking action, absolutely I’m excited about it.”

Now that this initiative has been approved by the community services and public safety committee Tuesday, it moves on to town council next month where it’ll have the opportunity to be approved by the town’s full group of leaders.

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