News Release

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Black History Month Spotlight: Gullah Geechee Land & Cultural Preservation Task Force

February 22, 2023

In recognition of February as Black History Month, the Town of Hilton Head Island celebrates its Gullah Geechee Land & Cultural Preservation Task Force and the work it has done to help preserve the Island’s historic neighborhoods.

"The work of the task force is about preserving the culture, not only of Gullah Geechee communities but of the Island. We can trace our roots back many generations and as the Island evolved, descendants of these communities contributed to its development and the rich cultural experiences we enjoy today," said Lavon Stevens, Chairman of the task force.

"But, as we know, there are many threats to the existence of Gullah Geechee culture, ways of life, and land ownership within the community. That's why the establishment of and the work of the task force are so important," Stevens said. "Our work is about preserving the culture and the history. In doing so, we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us."

Town Council organized the task force in June of 2017 as an ad-hoc committee of the Town’s Planning Commission. With considerable public input, the task force identifies and assists in the preservation of the Gullah Geechee culture. Members of the task force help detect and resolve issues specific to heirs’ property, taxes and land use, economics, and sustainability within the Island’s Gullah Geechee communities.

In addition to Stevens, current members of the task force include:

"Since the Town brought us together, we have made significant progress in addressing issues that affect the Island's historic neighborhoods, where Gullah Geechee descendants live," Stevens said. Hilton Head Island’s Gullah Geechee communities include the Bay Gall, Big Hill, Chaplin, Gardner, Grassland, Jarvis, Jonesville, Marshland, Mitchelville, Old House Creek, Spanish Wells, Squire Pope, and Stoney areas of the Island.

"The Town has worked closely with the task force to ensure that Gullah Geechee communities remain a strong and viable part of the Island. We have worked steadily on several initiatives, policies and programs to preserve Gullah Geechee land and culture," said Missy Luick, Assistant Community Development Director.

Since 2017, the Town along with the support of the task force:

For more information on the Gullah Geechee Land & Cultural Preservation Task Force, visit

Carolyn Grant, Communications Director