Hilton Head Island is rich in history and culture. Many generations of footprints have been left on the soil and sand of our beautiful island.
The triumphant touching post Civil War story of the rise of the first self governed settlement for freedmen in the United States took place right here, on Hilton Head Island .It’s a story as old and as rich as the soil itself; a testament to the sacrifice, resilience and perseverance of our nation’s very first freedmen, and thanks to The Mitchelville Preservation Project, today, America can relive it. In 1862, shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed -- while most of the African-American slave population was still trying to adjust to the idea of their new post-war freedom -- the people of Mitchelville were busy creating a completely new, self-governed culture that would be the guidepost for generations to follow. Mitchelville hosts the islands only Juneteenth Celebration annually in Historic Mitchelville.
2. Gullah Heritage Trail Tours
Gullah Heritage Trail Tours was founded in 1996 by a Hilton Head Island Gullah Family Partnership. This outstanding family has been involved in preserving Gullah cultural heritage, blending Gullah cultural values, in the SC-GA Low Country, for more than 40 years. Based on Hilton Head Island, Gullah Heritage Trail Tours caters to Low Country visitors interested in learning about the history of Gullah Culture. Tours are available Monday - Sunday, 8am - 5pm.
3. Daufuskie Island
Daufuskie Island offers a glimpse of what other sea islands were like before bridges and causeways opened them to development. Most native residents of Daufuskie Island are decendants of freed slaves, who have made their living oystering and fishing for decades. The subject of Pat Conroy's novel, The Water Is Wide, Daufuskie Island has a timeless quality and is still accessible only by boat.
4. The Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island
Since 2003, the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head, a 501(C)3 organization, has been committed to maintaining Gullah customs, traditions, language, stories, songs and structures on Hilton Head. Through the generous support of individuals and institutions the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head has successfully preserved its first structure “The Little House” and completed a documentary – “ Hilton Head Island Back in the Day: Through the Eyes of the Gullah Elders”. Both projects have served as community catalyst for the providing context and understanding of Gullah culture’s influence on Hilton Head Island.
5. Penn Center
Tucked in the heart of the South Carolina Sea Islands surrounded by glimmering marshes and nestled beneath the silvery moss-draped limbs of massive live oaks, is Penn Center. It is the site of the former Penn School, one of the country's first schools for freed slaves. Penn Center is one of the most significant African American historical and cultural institutions in existence today. We are located on St. Helena Island, one of the most beautiful and historically distinct of the South Carolina Sea Islands, and at the heart of Gullah culture.