If you read last week’s cover story, you know all about the significance of Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust. Basically she was the first African-American female director with a film in general release back in 1992.
In light of the movie’s 20th anniversary — and its strong ties to the Lowcountry — the Avery Research Center hosted a two-day symposium and art show celebrating Dash. On Saturday afternoon, fans gathered at Hampton Park for a few hours of Gullah celebrations and a screening of the film. Attendees sat wrapped in blankets to ward off the dreary weather as they listened and clapped along to spirituals from the Plantation Singers and the Magnolia Singers featuring Ann Caldwell. Veronica Gaillard and Sharon Cooper-Murray, dressed in period garb, told traditional Gullah stories in both English and Gullah, emphasizing the huge differences between the languages.
Later in the afternoon, artist Jonathan Green, on behalf of Mayor Riley, declared Sept. 17 Julie Dash Day before introducing the filmmaker herself to the crowd. Volunteers with One Book Charleston County, a Charleston County Public Library effort created to promote literacy, passed out koozies in exchange for surveys about the event, which offered thousands of free copies of Daughters of the Dust to local readers. Judging by the positive reactions of those around us, you can expect similar events in the future.