Black History Spotlight: Lowcountry icon says to keep the art of storytelling alive

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:13 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -”Come and let’s play together in the bright sunny weather. Let’s all go to Gullah, Gullah Island.”

For this Black History Spotlight, get to know a star from the hit show “Gullah Gullah Island.” Ron Daise is a South Carolina native known for keeping his Gullah heritage alive both on and off the camera.

The Gullah heritage originates from enslaved Africans in West Africa. Direct descendants of the Gullah Geechee people are living in coastal areas and sea islands of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Daise was born in St. Helena Island, which is overflowing in Gullah culture. He’s dedicated his life to preserving Gullah history.

In the 1990s, Daise and his wife Natalie starred in the Nick Jr. TV show “Gullah Gullah Island,” a children’s program that embraced the Gullah culture. Decades later, Daise is continuing to educate people about the Gullah heritage through the art of storytelling.

One way is through books educating people on the culture. Daise is the author of the book “Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritages,” which tells the stories of people he grew up with on St Helena island.

After the book was published, Daise said people reached out wanting to learn more about the culture through the eyes of those featured in the stories.

“Numerous people throughout the years have come up to them wanting to know about their Sea Island experience,” Daise said. “This documentation I had written of themselves, those are very important parts of people’s history.”

Whether it be at the barbershop, hair salon or even the grocery store, Daise said in order to preserve black history the stories must continue to be told.

“What they garden, how they garden, what they eat, how they speak,” Daise said. “What are their struggles and how do they keep on living despite them? Those are the stories that are important to be told.”

Daise serves as vice president for creative education and Gullah descendant at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet. He presents informative programs about the history of the Gullah Geechee people.

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