Phi Alpha Theta Colloquium

Title

Language and Race: White Perspectives on the Gullah Geechee Language

Presenter Information

Maya NoonanFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

History

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

The buildup to the Civil War often focuses on the events of white men and their feelings towards their property, in this case, black slaves. Most enslaved men and women living in the South had known no other life than the labor of the plantation, having their culture stripped away from them and being forced into an involuntary labor system. Yet one group of people was fortunate to be able to keep many aspects of their culture and adapt to the new world they were thrown into. The Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina and Georgia developed a new Creole culture that adapted to white culture yet still it was never enough. Despite the creation of Gullah Geechee being a symbol of an intelligent adaptation to foreign language by black slaves, whites utilized the language to increase the imbalance of power between races, claiming superiority in the English language. By continuing the work of Turner and Opala, new research can be conducted to continue to preserve the culture that still exists today and that for so many years was said to be a lesser culture than their white counterparts.

Spring Scholars Week 2022 Event

Phi Alpha Theta Colloquium

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Language and Race: White Perspectives on the Gullah Geechee Language

The buildup to the Civil War often focuses on the events of white men and their feelings towards their property, in this case, black slaves. Most enslaved men and women living in the South had known no other life than the labor of the plantation, having their culture stripped away from them and being forced into an involuntary labor system. Yet one group of people was fortunate to be able to keep many aspects of their culture and adapt to the new world they were thrown into. The Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina and Georgia developed a new Creole culture that adapted to white culture yet still it was never enough. Despite the creation of Gullah Geechee being a symbol of an intelligent adaptation to foreign language by black slaves, whites utilized the language to increase the imbalance of power between races, claiming superiority in the English language. By continuing the work of Turner and Opala, new research can be conducted to continue to preserve the culture that still exists today and that for so many years was said to be a lesser culture than their white counterparts.