For two weeks in June, Southern Utah University’s own Dr. Earl Mulderink was among twenty-three college and university professors chosen to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute hosted by the Georgia Historical Society (GHS) that explored two centuries of African-American life and culture in Savannah and Georgia's coastal islands. Through scholarly lectures, site visits, community presentations and guided tours, the twenty-three participants examined the centrality of place in the African-American experience in Georgia’s Low country and the larger Atlantic world.
“I was eager to learn more about Georgia’s coastal cultures and histories, especially those focused on African Americans,” said Mulderink. “I enjoyed rich professional interactions and site visits to Savannah as well as Sapelo and Ossabaw Islands. My students should benefit from my deeper knowledge of this part of America and U.S. history."
Mulderink was chosen from more than one hundred applicants for the two-week institute, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and selected as an NEH Summer Institute for 2013 which addressed broad themes of race and slavery in American history by focusing on site-specific experiences of communities in and around Savannah from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries.
In addition to lectures from leading academics, participants were taken to Ossabaw and Sapelo Islands, the coastal community of Pin Point, and spent an afternoon at the location of “The Weeping Time,” Savannah’s Ten Broeck Race Course, where one of the largest sales of enslaved persons in U.S. history took place in 1859.
“It is important to bring these professors together to explore the history of the African American experience and the Gullah-Geechee culture in particular,” said Dr. Stan Deaton, Senior Historian at GHS and Program Director for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute. “By bringing together experts in the field as well as the descendants and keepers of the Gullah-Geechee traditions, we can open up this part of American history in a very dynamic way, giving each of them the tools necessary to facilitate discussions in their own classrooms.”