Starting at the beginning: African ancestry, Gullah Roots, and education

Graphic from Gullah Roots documentary by South Carolina ETV

Return treks are becoming an increasingly popular New Year celebration in the African American community. During return treks African Americans spend the new year in West Africa to reconnect with ancestral land and spirit.

According to the Year of Return website, 2019 was selected as the celebratory launch because it marks 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Jamestown, Virginia.

While this is happening across the country, South Carolinians are also making return treks. The SCETV documentary Gullah Roots chronicles one group’s journey to Sierra Leone. In the documentary, group sets out to discover the cultural, historical, and artistic connection between West Africa and South Carolina, particularly the Gullah-Geechee heritage. The outcome is an awe-inspiring documentary that incorporates history, geography, sociology, and world languages to showcase a rich interconnected culture.  Gullah Roots is available to view on the newly updated site. 

Along with the documentary, educators can download and edit a multitude of educational resources to compliment the film. Students are required to think critically and creativity about the connection between West Africa and South Carolina to complete the activities. These resources are aligned to the 2019 South Carolina Social Studies College- and Career-Ready Standards and are an essential addition to any teacher’s toolbox. However, the documentary is also suitable for undergraduate audiences.

If you use this documentary in your class, please share outcomes on

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