As scholars, practitioners, and community members prepare to gather on the CCU campus for the second annual Gullah Geechee conference March 4-7, organizers plan to cycle some of the conference proceeds right back into the community.
Two major performing arts events at the International Gullah Geechee and African Diaspora Conference, sponsored by CCU’s Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies, will benefit the Waccamaw Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, which supports area flood relief efforts. The Waccamaw Community Foundation builds sustainable philanthropy by pairing donors with causes of interest.
On Thursday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Conway’s Theatre of the Republic, “Drawing Circles through Dance” brings together modern and traditional African dance. Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, Kankouran West African Dance Company, and Miya Fowler come together for a night of award-winning dance that celebrates the circle dances of the African diaspora. Moving Spirits and Kankouran tour nationally to bring awareness to social justice issues and obstacles that impact the African diasporic community.
“Reclaiming the Banjo,” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, in CCU’s Coastal Theater inside the Lib Jackson Student Union, features Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and Justin Robinson of the Carolina Chocolate Drops paying homage to the banjo’s roots in the African diaspora. Robinson currently leads Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes, and Paxton recently appeared in “American Epic,” a three-part, award-winning music documentary film series produced by Robert Redford, Jack White, and T-Bone Burnett for PBS.
Alli Crandell, co-organizer of the conference and director of the Athenaeum Press, CCU’s student-driven publishing lab, established the philanthropic plan as she passed Lee’s Landing one day on her way to work.
“I was just thinking of the chronic, overwhelming challenges with flooding that certain communities have had over the past several years,” said Crandell. “Our ecological and cultural foundations and treasures are being threatened in several areas. Since flooding disproportionately affects residents in African-American communities throughout South Carolina, I thought it would be fitting to use proceeds from our artistic performances to offer some measure of relief to help our neighbors deal with these ongoing issues.”
The Joyner Institute, established in 2015, is named after the late Charles Joyner, CCU distinguished professor emeritus of Southern history and culture and author of the groundbreaking work “Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community” (1984). The Joyner Institute examines the historical migration and scattering of African populations to local geographical areas and the subsequent evolution of blended cultures, specifically Gullah.
Tickets to the performances are $10 general admission, $7 for groups of five or more, and $5 for children ages 2-12 and CCU/HGTC students. For tickets to “Drawing Circles through Song and Dance,” click here. For tickets to “Reclaiming the Banjo,” click here. The Theatre of the Republic is located at 337 Main St. in Conway, and the Lib Jackson Student Center is located at 100 Spadoni Park Circle on the main CCU campus in Conway.
Contact Cali Duncan at 843-349-5099 or visit the conference website for more information.