Royalty visits campus for Black History Month

Katrina Moses, Staff Writer

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The University Programming Board (UPB) and the Multicultural Advisory Board (MAB) had a Gullah/Geechee program to celebrate Black History Month with Queen Quet, Head of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, as keynote speaker on Monday, February 3 at 4:30 pm in the Chapman Auditorium.

            Quet used this presentation to educate individuals on African heritage, and the Gullah/Geechee culture. Quet said her role as Head of the Gullah/Geechee Nation is similar to leaders of other nations.

            “It’s anything that a president (or) a prime minister entails,” Quet said. “I’m more than Head of State, I’m actually Queen Mother. I’m not only a political leader, I’m also a spiritual leader unlike presidents and prime ministers.”

            According to Quet,  the Gullah/Geechee Nation has a population of  about 750,000 Gullah/ Geechee people in South Carolina and the Georgia Sea Islands, and there are more than a million more people between Jacksonville, NC and Jacksonville, FL.

Quet is a member of the United Nations and represents the Gullah/Geechee Nation. Quet’s mission is to fulfill community awareness and outreach, and was able to do this during her presentation. Quet came to FMU on the first stop on her Gullah/Geechee Land and Legacy World Tour.

            During Quet’s presentation, she performed a monologue speaking in the Gullah/Geechee language. For some, the words were not understandable, but other audience members who are more familiar with the language were able to hear phrases that they were familiar with. Some students would laugh, or nod their heads in agreement. Latasha Brand, assistant dean of students, noticed how the students reacted to Quet.

            “I felt the laughter was students’ expression of familiarity and appreciation for Queen Quet’s message,” Brand said.  “Students I spoke with indicated the message was impactful, informative, and they were glad they attended the event,” said Brand.

            Quet explained that the difference between Gullah and Geechee is that Gullah is a language and culture, while Geechee is a dialect of Gullah. The Gullah language is an African language.

            “Academics try to categorize and separate the culture.  . . then they started saying Geechee was a derogatory word,” Quet said. “A lot of people think it’s negative and derogatory when it’s not.”

            The program featured a dance performance from Praise in Motion (PIM), and a musical selection from the Young, Gifted, and Blessed (YGB) choir. There was also a slide show presentation of influential black figures from South Carolina, which included actress Viola Davis (The Help), Raymond Felton (of the NBA), and singer Eartha Kitt.

           

            Junior biology nursing major Mark Anthony Holden said the program “helped inform,” and others who attended the program said that they didn’t know much about the culture before the event, but learned from the program.

            Quet said that her aim is to not maintain only a portion of this culture, but to keep the heritage ongoing.

            “I’m not about preserving culture, I’m about continuing culture,” Quet said. “In our culture of Gullah/ Geechee we do preserve. We do jarring. So you take food . . . and put it in a jar, and lock the top which means no air in there. If these are human beings in there, they would die out. Continuation means it’s going to be for every generation to come after this.”

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Royalty visits campus for Black History Month