Shouting with children is one way the group can keep their heritage alive with the youngest generation.
Grant is to support Gullah Geechee Education-in-Schools programs for Title 1 Schools
— Freddie Palmer
TOWNSEND, GA, UNITED STATES, January 31, 2024 /EINPresswire.com/ — The McIntosh County Shouters are pleased to announce that they have been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a Grants for Arts Projects award of 15,000.
This grant will support their Gullah Geechee Education-in-Schools program for Title 1 schools in coastal Georgia. In total, the NEA will award 958 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling more than $27.1 million that were announced as part of its first round of fiscal year 2024 grants.
“The NEA is delighted to announce this grant to The McIntosh County Shouters, which is helping contribute to the strength and well-being of the arts sector and local community,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “We are pleased to be able to support this community and help create an environment where all people have the opportunity to live artful lives.”
“In 1993, we were honored to be named National Endowment for the Arts Fellows. For over 30 years, the Smithsonian Institution and National Endowment for the Arts have been strong advocates of our group. We are grateful for their support for the past few decades and we are thrilled to be able to offer these programs to coastal Georgia schools at no cost to the schools,” said Carletha Sullivan of The McIntosh County Shouters. “Teaching school children about our rich Gullah Geechee heritage and culture is very important to us and we are most grateful for the National Endowment for the Arts grant.”
The focus of this grant is to support the McIntosh County Shouters’ Education-in-Schools program for Title 1 schools. This grant partially funds several programs for coastal Georgia schools. This program also requires a cash match. Any donors who would like to assist the group with this cash match can send a contribution to the McIntosh County Shouters, 2126 GA HWY 99, Townsend, GA 31331.
The McIntosh County Shouters have been demonstrating old slave shouts and singing slave songs all their lives. This age-old tradition was believed to have died out in the early 20th century. When it was discovered by outsiders that this group still practices a custom that was begun by their ancestors, a performing group from the community was organized, calling themselves the McIntosh County Shouters. The group travels to schools, festivals, churches, public and private events educating audiences young and old about the ring shout and the Gullah Geechee heritage.
The McIntosh County Shouters’ mission is to preserve and protect the rich Georgia Gullah Geechee heritage by educating audiences young and old about the ring shout and life during slavery along the Georgia coast. Over time, interest in the rich heritage passed down from slavery times in the coastal Georgia region continues to grow, but the slender threads of memory and information will remain strong only as long as we continue the tradition of “passing down” the unique culture of our ancestors from Africa’s Rice Coast who were brought here in bondage just a few generations ago. Through the telling of stories, the memories and heritage are kept alive.
The term “ring shout” does not refer to the intonation with which one speaks or sings, but rather to the shuffling of feet in a counterclockwise motion and the clapping of hands. The feet are never crossed as that was considered dancing which was seen as unholy. The stickman commences the song with the beating of the stick. The lead songster begins the ring shout followed by the basers and clappers, and the shouters. Because drums were not allowed in coastal Georgia or South Carolina during slavery, a simple stick or broom was used to establish the rhythm and provide percussion. Other percussion was provided by pounding on the chest or thighs, as well as by clapping. The basers, clappers, and shouters all respond to this rhythm by singing a capella. A narrator also tells the backstory to the ring shouts while the group demonstrates a ring shout.
They have been featured on documentaries and programs such as HBOs “Unchained Memories” and Oxygen’s “Who Needs Hollywood?”, PBS’ “The History of the Black Church in America”, Apple + “Emily Dickinson series. They also provided much of the soundtrack for a 2022 film, “Freedom’s Path.”
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