A visit to Gullah Geechee Gaardin, Brookgreen’s new permanent, outdoor exhibit, affords an opportunity to explore “Heritage.” It’s one of seven cultural values that are displayed on vibrantly colored interpretive panels. Others are "Respect for Elders," "Self-sufficiency," "Creativity," Tenacity," Spirituality," and "Family & Community." Audio recordings and written texts of quotations by Georgetown County Gullah Geechee residents are showcased.
“When, when I was young, it (“Gullah” or “Geechee”) was a fighting word,” cites a written oral history recording by Gladys Bonds McKoy (1938-2016) on the "Heritage" panel. "Don’t call me no, I ain’t, I ain’t no Geechee!’” she remembers telling others. McCoy, a graduate of Georgetown’s Howard High School and Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC, was a noted educator, musician, and community leader.
Through recordings by McCoy and others that are highlighted among line drawings of crops grown in gardens of Gullah Geechee people, visitors learn about Gullah Geechee culture as a source of pride – and not embarrassment. Heritage is paired with Collards, and the interpretive panel proclaims: “As a representation of Heritage, Collards connote the bitter and caustic meanings of the words “Gullah” and “Geechee” throughout history and the positive meanings that have become accepted.”