The coastal plains and sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia are home to the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of slaves who once worked on rice plantations there.
Many Gullah Geechee still farm and fish. But in recent decades, rising seas and storm waves have flooded cropland and damaged oyster fisheries.
Queen Quet: “These things are now things a lot of scientists talk about and they’re examining and they’re studying, but we didn’t need all that – we live on the land! We know there’s some changes happening. We just didn’t call it climate change.”
Queen Quet Marquetta Goodwine is the elected leader of the Gullah Geechee. She says the problems are compounded by tourism-driven development that has destroyed the coastal marshland that helps protect against storms and flooding.
So she says people need to rethink their relationship with coastal areas and work to protect them.
Queen Quet: “There’s a proverb in Gullah Geechee that says ‘the water bring we and the water going to take we back.’ Now it’s the water that’s bringing us back to each other as human beings, that is, the water of the sea-level rise, the hurricanes bringing water on land, and so we now all have to gather around together and see if we can’t literally change this tide together.”
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.