"The Old Plantation," South Carolina, about 1790. This famous painting shows Gullah slaves dancing and playing musical instruments derived from Africa. Scholars unaware of the Sierra Leone slave trade connection have interpreted the two female figures as performing a "scarf" dance. Sierra Leoneans can easily recognize that they are playing the shegura, a woman's instrument (rattle) characteristic of the Mende and neighboring tribes.
Priscilla's Homecoming: Featured Resources and Lesson PlansMrs. Thomalind Martin Polite, an African American woman from Charleston, South Carolina, will soon embark upon an extraordinary and historic journey to the West African nation of Sierra Leone. What makes this journey so extraordinary is that Thomalind is known to be a direct descendant of a 10 year old girl who was kidnapped from Africa in 1756, placed aboard the slave ship Hare in Sierra Leone bound for Charleston, and sold in the Charleston market to rice planter Elias Ball.
Priscilla, the 7th generation ancestor of Thomalind, must have been a strong and courageous little girl. She survived another 55 years, mothered ten children, at least four of whom survived to adulthood, and is the ancestor of at least 75,000 African Americans in the United States today. Thomalind will travel to Sierra Leone at the request of the leaders of that nation, who will welcome her to her ancestral homeland. Thomalind's journey, which will take place in late May, will reunite Sierra Leoneans with a long-lost sister from across the sea, and she will be greeted by hundreds of her kinsmen as she steps off of the plane and stands on African soil for the first time.
Resources for Teachers
We've scoured the Net to bring you links to resources and free lesson plans that will help you bring Priscilla's Homecoming alive for your students. Do you know of resources that we should add to this page? Please share them with your fellow educators by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Below are links and resources for sharing Priscilla's Homecoming with your students:
Lesson Plans and Thematic Units:
Slavery Connects the North and the South
A lesson plan developed by the Choices Education Program at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies that addresses the voyage of the slave ship Hare. Students will trace the route of a Newport slave ship and examine connections the slave trade created between the North and the South
What a Wonderland for children this site is! Gullah Net was designed to introduce Gullah culture and language to children on the Web, although people of all ages may enjoy the site. The site currently features interactive content where kids of all ages can learn about Gullah culture, folktales and music. Design your own Gullah ring shout, listen to Gullah words, and view maps and videos that document the West Africa/Gullah connection! This must-visit site features classroom activities designed for implementing Gullah Net's information and resources into a variety of K-8 classrom curricula.
The Gullah: A Resource Guide for Teachers
This Resource Guide is meant to help teachers find cultural and historical information on the Gullah people living in the coastal low country region of South Carolina and Georgia. The Guide includes an introduction, a filmography that briefly describes 12 documentary and feature films available on the Gullah, a select bibliography that lists 34 academic and popular books on the Gullah, and an annotated list of children's books that lists 20 illustrated children's books ranging from first grade to high school level.
Lesson Plan: "When Rice Was King"
This top-notch, resource-packed lesson unit was written by Fay Metcalf, education consultant, and edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff at the National Park Service. This unit is designed to meet the United States History Standards for grades 5-12, and is one of the many free lesson plans that the NPS offers online.
From Africa to America
The teachers at Brown Middle School in Atlanta have designed this thematic unit for gifted sixth graders who may or may not have experience with technology. These lesson plans examine the West Africa/United States connection.
Digital History is a cooperative effort of the University of Houston, the Chicago Historical Society and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Here you will find many fine lesson plans, documents, multi-media resources and more, from all periods in American History.
Gullah People of the Sea Islands
This unit demonstrates that even though the Gullahs had been separated from Africa for hundreds of years, there are many examples of African retentions in the culture. The targeted participants are fourth and fifth graders, but for some of the activities, such as the chants, songs, and stories, the kindergartners through third graders may also be involved.
Sierra Leone and the United States: An Historical Connection
Here is yet another great lesson plan that examines the connection between the United States and Sierra Leone.
African American Folktales and Their Use in an Integrated Curriculum
Developed by Joyce Patton for the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, this unit uses African-American folktales to address the interest and reading levels of students in the elementary grades.
South Carolina and the Gullah
Designed for students in grades 9-12 with average or above average abilities, this lesson plan from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center takes students back into the past-to slave ships crossing the Atlantic, to antebellum rice plantations-and returns them to the present-to examine the impact of modern land developments on regions saturated with this history.
The Gullah: Rice, Slavery, and the Sierra Leone-American Connection
Here anthropologist Joseph A. Opala examines the link between the Gullah of the southeastern United States, and the West African country of Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone Web
This engaging site is the only one you will need for bringing Sierra Leone's history, government and popular culture into your classroom. Here you will find photographs, news stories, Sierra Leonean proverbs, poetry, short stories, articles on Sierra Leone's laws and government, and much more.
Bunce Island - Visit Sierra Leone
View pictures of Bunce Island and learn about its history as a slave trading outpost.
Bunce Island, Sierra Leone Wikipedia entry
A special section of the Island Packet Online, where you can learn more about Gullah history and traditions.
A Glossary of Gullah Words Taken from The Black Border by Ambrose E. Gonzales
Here is a Gullah dictionary that your students will find way cool!
Old Slave Mart in Charleston
Learn more about the history of the only known extant building used as a slave auction gallery in South Carolina.
Frogmore Stew and Other Lowcountry Recipes
Make and sample some recipes from Gullah country that have their roots in Sierra Leone!
The Congo Cookbook
Compare Gullah recipes to traditional recipes from Sierra Leone!
Introducing Folknography: A Study of Gullah Culture
Here Dr. Charles W. Jarrett and Dr. David Lucas of Ohio University Southern share their research on the rich mosaic of Gullah culture.
South Carolina – African American Culture, Heritage
As always, SCIway is your definitive source for all things South Carolina. This webpage is an extensive list of links to resources both on and off of SCIway.
The Adventures of Brer Rabbit
Brer Rabbit is a typical character in Gullah folklore. Here are fourteen tales of this trickster's exploits!
News Article: The Scholar and the Slave Trade By Anne Farrow, from courant.com
Video: Joseph Opala Has Put [Bunce] Island on the Map of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by Alan Chaniewski, from courant.com
Create an Internet Greeting Card
This is a fun site from Gateway-Africa.com. Choose from a variety of options to custom-make an Internet greeting card with African scenery!
Avery Research Center - Aufa's Story
Here is a family oral history told by a Gullah woman who was an ex-slave. Read the English version and listen to the Gullah version of this tale.
Religious Music: The African Roots
Listen to African call-and-response songs, view a short video of a ring shout, and listen to We Shall Overcome.
South Carolina State Museum: Gullah Language
Listen to a Gullah story entitled He Might Overrun the Law!
For more information on "Priscilla's Homecoming" see:
For more on Edward Ball’s book Slaves in the Family, see:
For more information on the earlier "Gullah Homecomings" to Sierra Leone, see:
Bailey, Cornelia Walker and Christina Bledsoe. God, Dr.
Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks about Life on Sapelo Island. Doubelday, New York, 2000.
Ball, Edward. Slaves in the Family. Farrar, Straus, and
Giroux, New York,1998.
Carney, Judith. Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice
Cultivation in the Americas. Harvard University Press,
Jones-Jackson, Patricia. When Roots Die: Endangered
Traditions on the Sea Islands. University of Georgia Press,
Joyner, Charles. Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina
Slave Community. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1984.
Littlefield, Daniel. Rice and Slaves: Ethnicity and the
Slave Trade in Colonial South Carolina. Louisiana State
University Press, Baton Rouge, 1981.
Pollitzer, William S. The Gullah People and their African
Heritage. University of Georgia Press, 1999.
Wood, Peter H. Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South
Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. W.W. Norton
and Company, New York, 1996.
Carrier, Tim. Family Across the Sea. South Carolina
Educational Television, 1990.
Hinn, Gary. Fah de Chillun: Gullah Traditions (Juvenile).
South Carolina Educational Television, 1994.
Keyserling, Paul. God's Gonna Trouble the Water. South
Carolina Educational Television, 1997.
Moss, Gary. Gullah Tales. Georgia State University, 1986.
Panter, Richard. When Rice Was King. South Carolina
Educational Television, 1990.
Toepke, Alvaro and Angel Serrano. The Language You Cry In:
The Story of a Mende Song. California Newsreel, San
Bodie, Idella. The Mystery of Edisto Island. Sandlapper
Publishing Company, Orangeburg, South Carolina, 1994.
Branch, Muriel. The Water Brought Us: The Story of the
Gullah-Speaking People. Cobblehill Books, New York, 1995.
Clary, Margie Willis. A Sweet, Sweet Basket. Sandlapper
Publishing Company, Orangeburg, South Carolina, 1995.
English, Karen. Neeny Coming, Neeny Going. BridgeWater
Books, Mahwah, New Jersey, 1996.
Jaquith, Priscilla. Bo Rabbit Smart for True: Tall Tales
from the Gullah. Philomel Books, New York, 1995.
Krull, Kathleen. Bridges To Change: How Kids Live on a South
Carolina Sea Island. Lodestar Books, New York, 1995.
Siegelson, Kim L. The Terrible, Wonderful Tellin’ At Hog
Hammock. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1996.
We hope that you enjoy these links and resources that will help make Priscilla's Homecoming a special event in your classroom!
All the Best!
The Crew at Africana Heritage
The USF Africana Heritage Project is Sponsored by the Africana Studies Department at the University of South Florida.
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