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Sapelo Island Resident, Recent Grads Work To Preserve Land and Gullah-Geechee Culture

Victor-Alan Weeks, left, and Jennifer Thompson, center, are recent graduates of Davidson College. Maurice Bailey, right, is a Sapelo Island resident and a community liaison. They all joined “Closer Look” to discuss House Bill 906 and the importance of preserving Sapelo Island.
Victor-Alan Weeks, left, and Jennifer Thompson, center, are recent graduates of Davidson College. Maurice Bailey, right, is a Sapelo Island resident and a community liaison. They all joined “Closer Look” to discuss House Bill 906 and the importance of preserving Sapelo Island.
Credit COURTESY OF VICTOR-ALAN WEEKS, JENNIFER THOMPSON AND MAURICE BAILEY

Two recent college graduates of Davidson College say they are concerned about the future of a Georgia island they consider to be sacred land.

Victor-Alan Weeks and Jennifer Thompson spearheaded a project to establish a community garden on Sapelo Island. The island that sits on the coastal edge of Georgia in Mcintosh County is home to the Gullah-Geechee people, African Americans who are the direct descendants of West African slaves.

Weeks and Thompson say they don’t support House Bill 906 because if passed, it allows the redistribution and selling of land protected under Georgia’s Heritage Trust Program to outside buyers and developers.

“Sapelo could quickly become another Hilton Head or elsewhere,” Thompson said. “If House Bill 906 were to be passed, that could easily happen.”

Despite the bill not passing this legislative session and the state of Georgia already owning much of the land on Sapelo Island accept for the Hog Hammock community, Weeks and Thompson say they feel it’s best to preserve the island for the descendants of people who have mothered the land since the 1700s.

“It’s been a haven for the Geechee community to thrive,” Weeks said.

On a Wednesday’s edition of “Closer Look,” Maurice Bailey, who is a Sapelo resident and community liaison, echoed what Weeks and Thompson said. “If this happens, we will lose our own community.”

Bailey also told the show’s host, Rose Scott, that he’s working preserve the island, following in the footsteps of his late mother, Cornelia Bailey, who was historian, storyteller and advocate for Sapelo and its residents.

“She spent her life trying to protect the heritage and the last surviving Geechee community here on Sapelo,” said Bailey.

Maurice Bailey, a Sapelo Island resident, drives around Sapelo Island.

Guests:

  • Victor-Alan Weeks, recent graduate of Davidson College
  • Jennifer Thompson, recent graduate of Davidson College
  • Maurice Bailey, Sapelo Island resident and community liaison

To listen to the full conversation, click the audio player above.