It’s easy to see why Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah-Geechee Nation, is beloved to her citizens and followers alike. The instant warmth and graciousness she exudes draws you to her, and her stories, memories, and passion make you never want to leave.
Queen Quet’s life’s mission, as she explains it, is not to preserve the exquisite Gullah-Geechee culture she is a part of, but to offer it as a vibrant and dynamic examination of a culture that has survived prosperity in addition to dark times. Among her achievements, Queen Quet is the founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition and Chair of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which spans from Wilmington, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida.
Yet, the most defining moment of her life was a single speech she gave at an April 1st hearing of the Commission on Human Rights in Switzerland.
“It was the first time anyone there had heard the Gullah language,” Quet said, “and afterwards everyone was excited to learn more about us and our culture.”
This historical precedent and interest set in motion the founding of the Gullah-Geechee Nation.
The Gullah-Geechee Nation became an internationally-recognized nation on July 2, 2000. The recognition ceremony was deliberately held on Sullivan’s Island—“to bring to fruition our history—we originally came there.”
Queen Quet enjoys creating new and continued interest in Gullah-Geechee through events highlighting traditional dance, story-telling, and cultural immersion and traditions.
The highlight of the year's events calendar, the Gullah-Geechee Nation International Music and Movement festival being held this year from August 5th-7th. The theme for this year’s festival is “A Celebration of Self-Determination,” a notion dear to Queen Quet’s heart.
“Self-determination has been vital to our nation and ancestors,” she explained.
“Those of us who lived are survivors. Remember, when we came, conditions would have been horrible for those who traveled, disease was rampant, and there were times when records were destroyed or lost so we don’t know everything that happened.”
Notable dates for the festival are the Friday August 5th Welcoming Reception “Party with a Purpose” with filmmaker Christopher Everett—where the film “Wilmington on Fire” will be shown, and the Gullah-Geechee Reunion Day event featuring artist Amiri Ferris on Saturday from noon to 7pm at the Charleston Maritime Center.
More event information and tickets to the festival can be found at www.gullahgeechee.info