St. Helena Island is a rare gem on the South Carolina coastline. African Americans have farmed and fished here for centuries: first as plantation slaves, then as freedmen owning small subsistence operations. Gullah Gone: Preserving the Land, Water and Culture of the Sea Islands is a one-hour documentary designed for public television. Four landowners on St. Helena struggle to make a living off land their families have owned since Reconstruction. They all face a double challenge. They must stave off the threat of development, and find someone to become the next generation of caretakers.
Sherard joined the team as producer in October 2016. “As a native South Carolinian and African-American, I was familiar with St. Helena Island,” Duvall states, “but only from an outsider’s perspective. I had no knowledge of its intrinsic value to the story of African-Americans AND the story of America. A direct line from the continent of Africa to present day America is something that, and this I know from personal experience, many African-Americans think is only a fantasy. In this place the descendants of slaves, originating from the rice farms of Sierra Leone, not only still live, but have created a culture all their own, retaining some of the passed down language, ways and handiwork from Mother Africa herself – I HAD to be a part of this story.”
Gullah Gone is slated for a Spring 2019 release. To keep up with the latest on Gullah Gone and The Gullah Project, connect on Facebook, Twitter, or visit thegullahproject.org.