Georgia's African Heritage

Just a short ferry boat ride away from the Georgia coast lies Hog Hammock, an African American community on Sapelo Island with cultural traditions that tie it to Africa. Slaves came to Georgia bringing nothing more than memories from their African homeland. Cornelia Bailey, a descendant of slaves who worked the plantations on Sapelo, imagines the terrible sadness her ancestors felt knowing they were so far away from home with no way to return. She believes some died from broken hearts, while others found relief imagining they could turn into sea birds and fly back across the ocean. Today the residents of Hog Hammock are recognized for the African culture they continue. Yvonne Grovner and her son make baskets, a skill passed along from Allen Green who has been making them for more than 70 years. The Sea Island Singers demonstrate African-style singing and movements such as body slapping, hand clapping, and buck dancing. These movements replaced drums that were forbidden for use by slaves. Stanley Walker is a cast net maker, demonstrating how to cast a net that makes a perfect circle in the water. As he uses the cast net to fish, he wonders if his counterpart in Sierra Leone is catching enough fish for his dinner as well.

Teacher tip: The Hog Hammock community is a historically rich community in Georgia. Use this video to begin a virtual exploration of Hog Hammock via the Internet and guide students in understanding its role in Georgia history.