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Gullah fest to be celebration of Reconstruction

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Staff reports

One of South Carolina’s award-winning events, the annual Original Gullah Festival, returns Memorial Day Weekend and will be held from Friday, May 26, through Sunday, May 28, at Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. 

The theme for this year’s festival is “Come Home to a Celebration of Reconstruction … The Untold Story.”

The Gullah are descendants of formerly enslaved West Africans living in the Sea Islands who work to keep their culture alive.

The three days of festivities feature “Lest We Forget History” seminars; a Gullah Lowcountry supper; live music; a film festival; African dance and drums; history re-enactors; the Robert Smalls Traveling Museum exhibit; a full-stage musical, “Decoration Day”; Reconstruction Gullah tours; Gullah African diaspora artists; a jazz concert; an All-White Attire Waterfront Party; gospel music; and a Silver Slipper Supper Club Dance.

There will also be a Gullah marketplace with more than 40 craft and food vendors.

Celebrations begin at 10 a.m. Friday with a Gullah village where re-enactors will share the Reconstruction story. 

Mainstage entertainment begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free during the day. Friday’s premier event is the Reggae R&B All-White Attire Waterfront Party at 9 p.m. Admission is $30. 

The festival continues Saturday at 10 a.m. Admission for Saturday’s events is $20 for adults and free for Children 12 and under. 

Entertainment includes “Gullah Gullah Island” Nickelodeon TV stars Ron and Natalie Daise, Dr. Marlena Smalls and the Hallelujah Singers, Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, neo-soul music, the Wona Womalan West African Drum & Dance Ensemble and the Gullah village. 

A full-stage musical “Decoration Day … An Old Fashioned Memorial Day” will be presented at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, 901 Craven St.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. 

Festival goers are asked to put on their shiny dancing shoes Saturday evening for the Silver Slipper Supper Club Dance co-sponsored by Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce and the Beaufort Inn Tabby Place. New to the festival this year, the event will lfeature live music by Gwen Yvette & Company and D.J. Topher. Food will be donated and catered by Southern Graces. Tickets are $30 for general admission or $45 for V.I.P. early dinner seating at 8 p.m. 

The Hour of Power service begins at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Waterfront Park. The Commemorative Marker Rededication of the African Landing follows at 11 a.m. on 11th Street off of Parris Avenue, in neighboring Port Royal. The Festival resumes 1 p.m. at the Waterfront Park.

For tickets and more information, visit 

Artist to sign festival posters

In conjunction with the Gullah Festival, local artist Amiri Geuka Farris will be at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery on Saturday, May 27, to sign copies of this year’s official Gullah Festival posters he designed. The Gallery is located at 913 Bay St., and the artist will be there from noon to 3 p.m.
In conjunction with the Gullah Festival, local artist Amiri Geuka Farris will be at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery on Saturday, May 27, to sign copies of this year’s official Gullah Festival posters he designed. The Gallery is located at 913 Bay St., and the artist will be there from noon to 3 p.m.

Confederate Memorial Day celebrated

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Photo above by Chris Clayton. 

Confederate Memorial Day was celebrated on May 10 to honor the Confederate dead. May 10 is the day in 1863 that Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died. 

The General Richard H Anderson Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #47 and Stephen Elliott Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, commemorated the event at the National Cemetery in Beaufort.

Commander Michael J. Kelley presided and the presentation of colors was presented by the Gen. Richard Anderson camp and the 11th South Carolina volunteer infantry.

Approximately 80 people were in attendance at the gravesites of the 117 Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery. They gathered to hear 1st Lt. Commander Jim Atkin’s keynote presentation. His address was entitled “The Significance of Confederate Memorial Day to Me.”

Dorothy Mosior, vice president of the UDC, laid a wreath at the commemorative stone. 

Evelene Stevenson, storyteller for The Spirit of Old Beaufort Tours, performed the song, “I Am Going Home,” and Penny Tarrance read the poem “The Soldier That Lays In the Confederate Grave.”

The event was concluded with the benediction by Gerald l. Wynn, and the playing of “Taps” by Cadet Airman First Class Joseph Mooney.

The assembly then joined in a rendition of “Dixie.”

Lowcountry Life

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In keeping with National Bike Month, the Gullah/Geechee Nation invited black motorcyclists to join the Gullah/Geechee Bike & Beauty celebration May 27 at Martin Luther King Park on St. Helena Island near Penn Center. Pictured here is U.S. Air Force veteran Marcilia “Slim Shadie” Merriweather on her 2014 Yamaha 1300 Delux. Merriweather is part of the black veterans North Charleston branch of the Buffalo Soldier’s Motorcycle Club. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

To submit a Lowcountry Life photo, you must be the photographer or have permission to submit the photo to be published in The Island News. Please submit high resolution photos and include a description and/or names of the people in the picture and the name of the photographer. Email your photos to 

Callawassie gets nod for environmental excellence

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Photo above: Callawassie Island officials plan to preserve and enhance wildlife habitats and protect natural resources on its golf courses for years to come. Photo provided.

Callawassie Island has achieved designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. 

Billy Bagwell, director of agronomy, led the effort to obtain the sanctuary designation for Callawassie and is recognized by Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International. Callawassie Island is one of 23 golf courses in South Carolina to hold the title of Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.   

“Callawassie Island Club has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property,” said Tara Donadio, director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs at Audubon International. “To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas,” explained Donadio. 

These categories include: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. 

“We are so excited to receive this certification. We are so proud to be a National Wildlife Habitat, and are thrilled to add another environmental-friendly milestone to our portfolio,” said Lindsey Cooler, communications and membership director at Callawassie Island.  


Wardle Family YMCA receives donation

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YMCA 100 Women HR

Photos above: From left are Mike Bostick, Tracey Robinson, Peg Schlichtemeier, Elly Levin, Jeneane Ryan, Kaylin Garst and Ernie Schlichtemeier. Photo by Sandy Dimke

The Wardle Family YMCA of Beaufort County was recently granted $14,400 in donations through 100 Women Who Care Beaufort.

Funds are earmarked for the YMCA Migrant Summer Education Camp as well as the 2017 Scholarship Campaign.

The 100 Women Who Care Beaufort is committed to supporting people in need in the community. 

The members promise to donate $100 per quarter to a worthy cause, charity or nonprofit operating locally and serving the Northern Beaufort County community. 

This is the second year of the YMCA Migrant Summer Education Camp and will have an increased capacity of 115 campers ages 5-18 who are in the area during the summer as their parents work the local agricultural harvest. 

The YMCA camp offers these kids a safe, structured environment with educational components, recreational activities, healthy meals and fun. Campers receive swim lessons, dental/wellness checkups and weekend backpack meals.

Hopeful Horizons honors women

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Hopeful Horizons joined with the community on May 13 to honor women who have made a difference in the lives of others. 

“This community event is a reminder that we are stronger when we empower one another,” said Kristin Dubrowski, COO of Hopeful Horizons. “Lilies on the River is a powerful annual event that honors women who have given so much to others.”

“Every year at this event I am reminded of the amazing impact one voice can make,” said Shauw Chin Capps, CEO of Hopeful Horizons. “Together, we are a collective voice that can end abuse and change lives.”

For every $15 tax deductible donation that was given, a lily was released at the event in honor of an important woman in that individual’s life.

All proceeds from the event benefit Hopeful Horizons’ efforts to create a safer community by changing the culture of violence and offering a path to healing. 

Hopeful Horizons is the local child advocacy, domestic violence and rape crisis center. Visit

Beaufort International Film Festival names winners

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The 11th Annual Beaufort International Film Festival is in the books. 

A champagne gala reception and awards ceremony was held recently, where filmmaker Julie Dash was awarded the inaugural Robert Smalls Merit & Achievement Award. The award was presented by the great-great grandson of Robert Smalls, Michael Boulware Moore. 

Thousands of filmmakers, film lovers and fans of the festival showed up to experience some or all of the five-day film festival. More than 300 entries were received from nearly 44 countries, which were narrowed down to the screening of 39 films and seven screenplays. Awards were presented in 12 categories.

Charleston Filmmaker Brad Jayne was presented the Behind the Scenes Award. South Carolina Film Office representative Tom Clark was on hand to present the award.

Other winners include:

• Best Feature: “Saturn Returns,” directed by Shawn Tolleson, Vancouver, BC.

• Best Documentary: “Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices,” co-directed by Peter Miller, New York, and Pamela Roberts, Atlanta.

• Best Short Film: “Mia,” directed by Felix Martiz, Los Angeles.

• Best Student Film: “Icarus,” directed by Tom Teller, Chapman University, Dodge College, Orange, Calif.

• Best Comedy: “Long John,” directed by Joe Bellavia, Rochester, N.Y.

• Best Animation: “Splash,” directed by Gavin Lankford, Winston-Salem, N.C.

• Best Screenplay: “Robert Smalls’ Great Escape,” written by Bernard Smith, Mandeville, La.

• Best Actress: Rukiyat Masud, New York, “Children of the Mountain.”

• Best Actor: Thomas Torrey, Fort Mill, “Fare.”

• Best Director: Thomas Torrey, Fort Mill, “Fare”

• Audience Choice: “Almost Paris,” Director Domenica Cameron Scorsese, Chicago.

The Beaufort International Film Festival is produced by the Beaufort Film Society. 


Meet & Greet

The Beaufort Film Society will hold a free meet-and-greet from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at Wined It Up at 705 Bay St. in Beaufort.

There will be entertainment and guests are encouraged to bring a family member, neighbor or anyone who wants to learn more about the Beaufort Film Society. Visit or

Dataw members present $14,187 check to local cancer fundraisers

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Photo above: A check for over $14,000 was presented to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation. Photo provided.

Through a series of events in March and April, Dataw Island Club members battled it out on the golf course, tennis courts, croquet lawn and even through a battle of the bands in an effort to fight an even bigger battle, the “Battle for Life.” 

The 15th annual Battle for Life cancer fundraiser is a volunteer-driven event that has become an institution on the island. 

Since 2002, about 300 Dataw members each year have been dedicated to supporting the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation to benefit the Keyserling Cancer Center, a cancer treatment facility in Beaufort.

This year, a new addition to the series was a Battle of the Bands, in which four local bands performed and members “voted” for their favorite band by stuffing their donation jars. 

The band with the most money at the end of the evening won big – not only earning bragging rights and half of their “take,” but they also won knowing that they were able to raise the most money for the Battle for Life.

A check for $14,187 was presented to Alice Moss, executive director of the BMH Foundation. 

Dataw member Celeste Nalwasky, chair of the golf tournament, said the support from Dataw members is nothing short of amazing and neither was the amount of donations raised. 

“Dataw members are very supportive of Beaufort-area nonprofits and civic groups,” Nawalsky said. “You can hardly blink around here without walking past a neighbor on their way to volunteer one place or another.” 

She also noted that this particular event is close to home for many members.

“Cancer is now so widespread, that I think we all know someone close to us who has been affected. Sometimes we think, ‘I wish I could do something to help.’ This series of events offers that opportunity – and as a bonus, we have a ton of fun doing it.”

Donations to Beaufort Memorial can also be made online by visiting

Beaufort native takes on the world

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Photo above: Eliza Rhodes is the first anthropology major to receive the Norris Medal. Photo courtesy of Clemson University.

Left: Elizabeth Rhodes adds her name to a wall in Belfast in Northern Ireland. Photo provided.
Left: Elizabeth Rhodes adds her name to a wall in Belfast in Northern Ireland. Photo provided.

By Michael Staton

Elizabeth Rhodes says she’s interested in everything, from the humanities to health care, so it’s a good bet she would have excelled no matter which path of study she decided to pursue. 

Luckily for the sociology, anthropology and criminal justice department and Clemson University’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, the Beaufort native decided to walk down a path that took her more often than not through Brackett Hall.

Anthropology majors know Brackett Hall well, and Rhodes is the first in the history of Clemson to win the Norris Medal, which honors one graduating senior who exemplifies the best qualities in a Clemson scholar. 

For someone who undoubtedly had a prompt, correct response to most questions posed to her throughout her college career, Rhodes found her own response to the news a little lacking.

“I was on the phone with my dad and I actually just couldn’t talk,” Rhodes said, laughing. “He just told me to read the whole letter over the phone, and then we both had trouble coming up with any words. All he could say was, ‘Wow.’ It was a great Monday.”

Rhodes’ interest in so many subjects found her torn between the humanities and science throughout her first two years at Clemson, but it only took one anthropology class to sell her on the major. She sees anthropology as a bridge between the arts and science, as it concerns itself with using science to answer questions that define humanity.

Katherine Weisensee, interim chair of the sociology, anthropology and criminal justice department, nominated Rhodes for the Norris Medal in part because of the work ethic, critical thinking skills and focus she displayed in that first anthropology class, qualities that only continued as she delved deeper into the major.

At one point, Rhodes found herself studying forensic anthropology, anatomy and physiology in a single academic year, and that combination reaffirmed that she had made the right call in her course of study.

“Many students are drawn to certain topics among the wide variety in anthropology, but Eliza excelled at them all,” Weisensee said. “She was able to effortlessly identify connections between the many different facets of anthropology as well as her other classes and pursuits throughout her college career.”

Outside of class, Rhodes’ time is often spent on books and podcasts detailing trends and diseases across hundreds of thousands of years of human history. That’s her leisure reading. She describes herself as “enthralled” by the concept of viewing health care from the “zoomed-out perspective” that an anthropological lens allows.

While her major allowed her to “zoom out,” her time as a volunteer on the Joseph F. Sullivan Center’s mobile health clinic certainly allowed her to hone in on public health concerns involving populations across the Upstate. 

As a Spanish minor, Rhodes was a valuable addition to the Sullivan Center team as it worked to bring medical care and education to migrant farm workers and marginalized communities. She discovered a passion for bringing health care to different cultures, and her studies in anthropology helped her to better frame these experiences.

Michael LeMahieu, an associate professor in Clemson’s English department, also nominated Rhodes for the Norris Medal and has known Rhodes since she was a senior in high school. 

He isn’t surprised to find Rhodes pulling on strengths in so many seemingly disparate areas to excel in an activity like public health outreach. LeMahieu said he has witnessed Rhodes quickly gain the confidence to do so over the course of her time at Clemson.

“It’s been a joy to watch Eliza grow into her talents and gain that confidence,” LeMahieu said. “At a certain point, I think she began to realize that her interests and talents couldn’t be contained by or expressed in just one area. Her career aspirations remained the same — she knew she wanted to be a physician — but she realized there was more than one path that would take her there.”

Because of her experience at Clemson, Rhodes sees herself as uniquely positioned to bring a different perspective to her studies when she begins medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina in the fall. However, her time at Clemson has also taught her to come into the experience with an open mind.

“Considering I was a bioengineering major who never even considered medical school when I started at Clemson, I kind of did a 180-degree turn when it came to my focus,” Rhodes said. “I know my interests will guide me once I get started.”

Rhodes was also nominated by John Coggeshall, a professor in Clemson’s sociology, anthropology and criminal justice department.

Elizabeth Rhodes visited Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, in May 2015. Photo provided.
Elizabeth Rhodes visited Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, in May 2015. Photo provided.

Lowcountry Life

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Alice Sauls, left, and Tiernea Stone, of Bitty’s Flower Shop, create floral arrangements for Mother’s Day. Stone said all of their delivery and pick-up orders were full by the Wednesday before Mother’s Day and they went through 5,000 stems of blooming flowers, not to mention thousands more of the greenery for decoration. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

To submit a Lowcountry Life photo, you must be the photographer or have permission to submit the photo to be published in The Island News. Please submit high resolution photos and include a description and/or names of the people in the picture and the name of the photographer. Email your photos to 

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