RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) — Gullah Master Storyteller Anita Singleton-Prather presented at John Paul II Catholic School in Ridgeland Thursday in honor of Black History Month.
Singleton-Prather spoke about the Reconstruction era and the transatlantic slave trade. She also taught the students traditional Gullah songs and about the history of the culture in the Lowcountry.
She says overall, her message is about love.
“One of the messages I want to instill in children is that we’re born lovers, and we’re taught to hate. So if hatred can be taught, it can be untaught, unlearned,” Singleton-Prather said.
Singleton-Prather, affectionately known as “Aunt Pearlie Sue” and a native of the Sea Islands in Beaufort County, told stories about African American roots in the area.
“I didn’t know that the guy who wrote ‘Amazing Grace’ was on a slave ship,” junior Kenneth-Charles Milton III said. “He based the words off of the moaning and groaning of the slaves, and that’s how that song came to be.”
Throughout February, the school presents student’s artwork inspired by Black History Month in their hallways, reads a Black History Month Fact of the Day during morning announcements, and highlights the significance of the Lowcountry’s rich African American history in social studies classes.
“This was a really good way to kick off our first week of Black History Month,” John Paul II Catholic School Principal John McCarthy said. “Gullah culture is such an important part of the Lowcountry. So we felt that this would be a good way for students to connect with that culture.”
Students were dancing, clapping and singing along to songs about love, acceptance and freedom.
“I absolutely loved it,” junior Aidan Tibbitt said. “I loved the message behind it. I think it’s very true that we can all learn to love each other. It’s just a great message all around.”
“We are all different. We can have different heights, different eye colors and skin tones,” 8-grade student Karoline Rustad said, “but we’re all related and we’re all family.”
Singleton-Prather says it’s her life’s mission to spread the message God helped her discover.
“To re-emphasize the culture that we are so honored to be a part of,” Singleton-Prather said. “In spite of the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, we came together and gave birth to this beautiful culture that everybody can be a part of and everybody can be proud of.”