JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Hebron Zion Presbyterian Church on Johns Island was the site for Saturday’s History Harvest where locals were invited to share their genealogical history, which will be preserved in the International African American Museum’s Center for Family History.
“There’s so much history here,” International African American Museum volunteer and Lowcountry native Darryl Bonneau said. “The graveyards a full with all our family members and we want you to know that our family members laid this foundation for us.”
The International African American Museum is working to preserve Lowcountry family legacies at the inaugural History Harvest.
“Our history is not all documented and we want to make sure when our children and our adults who are doing their history,” Reverend DeMett Jenkins with the International African American Museum said, “or learning history, or they’re family legacy, that they have the information that is needed.”
Community members who participated had the opportunity to digitize family documents and share oral accounts of their family’s history.
“I’ve been doing oral history interviews for quite some time,” Joshua Parks, the digital production manager for the International African American Museum, said, “and I really enjoy just being able to capture people’s stories. Let them tell their stories and just act as a soundboard to just capture that history.”
One participant eager to tell her family’s story is Tamara Saunders Jenkins.
“My father is William “Bill” Saunders,” Saunders Jenkins said. “He was actually the CEO and founder of WPAL radio station in Charleston, which was the only radio station that was actually active and operating during Hurricane Hugo. My mother, she was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement, cooking for Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Organizers say many families here in the Lowcountry have a rich, diverse history that is often overlooked, and this event will ensure that their stories are told.
“We want the world to know the importance of Gullah Geechee culture and the contributions that we have made,” Reverend Patricia Bligen, pastor of Hebron Zion Presbyterian Church, said, “not only through the church, but through just working and living and thriving.”
The International African American Museum is scheduled to officially open on January 21, 2023.