Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 8, 2020
On behalf of the City of Fernandina Beach, Mayor John Miller presented Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Nation with a proclamation proclaiming the week of July 25-August 1, 2020 as Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week.
The Gullah/Geechee Nation is the geographical area of the Sea Islands and Low Country of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. This area is home to the only African American population of the United States with a separate, long-standing name identifying them as a distinct people and the lone speakers of the only true African American creole language of the continental United States.
Africans began arriving on the Sea Islands in the 1500s; and the population of these Africans increased as chattel enslavement grew in the 1600s. These Africans began to engage with, and in some instances, started families with indigenous Americans in the region; the descendants of which are known as “Gullah/Geechee.” In 1999, the Gullah/Geechee people throughout the Sea Islands and Lowcountry of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida banded together to proclaim their human right of self-determination.
For the past twenty years, Queen Quet has served the Gullah/Geechee Nation with honor and distinction as the official spokesperson and “Head pun de Bodee.” She is a St. Helena Island native. Her official title: her Royal Highness Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
The City of Fernandina Beach annually recognizes the cultural heritage and sustainability of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and this year delights in partnering with Queen Quet to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
In accepting the Proclamation, Queen Quet thanked the Fernandina Beach City Commission for its continuing support and singled out Mayor Miller for special recognition, on behalf of their mutual interest in preserving the Atlantic Coastline over the past 7 years.
Queen Quet said that her people are working on eliminating the word “plantation” from any place names, because of historical connotations of the word. She asked local residents to join her in making a statement to owners of the Amelia Island Plantation that the time has come to change the name of the resort and community. “That is the one thing that takes away from the beauty of Amelia Island,” she said. “Our visitors come and see that sign and say “What? Is that what I am contributing to?’”
For more information about the Gullah/Geechee Nation, visit their website https://gullahgeecheenation.com.