ST. HELENA ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - Twenty years as queen mother and 40 years of Gullah Geechee activism has given Queen Quet a lifetime of memories
“So, that’s why I am the queen mother. I am both a spiritual leader and a political leader,” Queen Quet said.
The Gullah Geechee nation reaches from Jacksonville, N.C. to Jacksonville, Fla. and traces its roots to the descendants of Africans who were enslaved along the sea islands
“Getting the Gullah Geechee nation established was a matter of human rights. We actually became the first group of people of African descent in North America to come together and stand on our human right to self-determination,” Queen Quet said.
The queen says the Gullah Geechee people have an identity and history to be proud of.
“Lifted the esteem of many native Gullah Geechee people. Of various generations. Because what people had been taught, literally was beaten into many of us in school, I mean with corporal punishment. Was that to (speaks in Gullah). So, if you spoke our own language, they thought you were ignorant,” Queen Quet said.
The establishment of the nation allowed the culture to thrive along the sea islands. But the Queen says there is more.
“In the next 20 years, I would really like to see full unification within the Gullah Geechee nation.”
She says those moving to the Lowcountry should take time to learn about the people who have lived here for hundreds of years.
“Don’t jump on a tour bus and think that because it’s labeled Gullah Geechee, that that’s going to tell you the truth. The way you learn is from the people. We are the experts on our culture.”
She says the last 20 years have helped remind people the Gullah Geechee people are not a legend or a myth.
“We are a living breathing culture. We are not a museum piece. We are not something that you preserve by putting it on a jar and putting it on a shelf,” Queen Quet said.
The queen says if you take time to learn about the Gullah Geechee culture, you should make sure you were also taking time to support them economically so they can continue to grow and educate those around them.