“The worst problem no one has ever heard of" : heirs' property and its cultural significance to Gullah-Geechee residents of the South Carolina Lowcountry



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This report explores the gradual disappearance of Gullah-Geechee culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry through the loss of their communally held land, known as heirs’ property. The history of African American land ownership in the South will be uncovered in order to provide a context for the current issues heirs’ property owners and land rights advocates face. The major threats contributing heir’s property loss will be examined in order to gauge an understanding of the origins of distrust Gullah-Geechee landowners harbor against outside entities. Current private and public advocacy movements will be evaluated for their effectiveness in solving the heirs’ property issue in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The report will conclude with suggestions for filling the gap between the heirs’ property community and the private and public efforts designed to preserve the Gullah-Geechee culture and way of life.