The Gullah people are descendants of enslaved Africans and are known for their rich history and unique Creole language.
But rising seas and estuaries, along with stronger coastal storms linked to climate change, are putting their communities at risk.
In Washington, lawmakers are holding a series of hearings into the threat.
“It is of great concern and grave concern to us,” said Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. “We’ve seen those seafoods changing. We’ve seen less in certain stocks. We’ve seen where the catfish no longer flow.”
Coastal communities are home to these descendants of slaves, housing the rich history of the Gullah people.
“They have a rich history. And it’s along those low lying areas as the sea level comes up they have a way of eroding that history and burying that history under the ocean,” said Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).
Congressman McEachin is a member of the newly formed Select Committee on the Climate Crisis — a group of House Democrats making climate change a top priority.
“It’s a problem that needs to be addressed now,” he stated.
The White House is reportedly assembling a panel of its own to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat.
Some administration officials doubt it is a pressing issue while others argue that the survival of some communities depends on action.
“Gullah/Geechee culture will not continue to survive and thrive if we get displaced,” said Queen Quet.