Gullah Culture: Background information when reading Some Sing, Some Cry

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Some Sing, Some Cry

A Novel

by Ntozake Shange, Ifa Bayeza

Some Sing, Some Cry
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2011, 576 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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Beyond the Book:
Gullah Culture

The Gullah (known as Geechee in Georgia and Florida) are descendants of West African slaves, whose numbers today range from 200,000-500,000. The Gullah region traditionally extends along the coast from SE North Carolina, through Georgia to Northern Florida, including the Lowcountry region and its Sea Islands (see map at bottom left).

Geographic isolation, a marshy, malarial environment that often led to absentee plantation owners, and the fostering of close community ties allowed a distinct creole culture to develop. After the Civil War and emancipation, the Gullah's isolation increased as few outsiders were attracted to the area, and labor issues and a series of devastating hurricanes caused rice planters to abandon their farms. Thus, the Gullah were left alone to practice their traditional culture with little influence from the outside world well into the 20th century (the first bridges from the islands to the mainland were not built until the 1950s). As a result, the ...

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