Coastal Georgia Research Initiative event to celebrate Gullah Geechee and African American life and culture on St. Simons Island

Old graves with headstones on St. Simons Island
The graves of former Harrington School teachers at Strangers Cemetery on St. Simons Island. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

ST. SIMONS ISLAND – The latest work in a multiyear project by a Mercer University professor and her students to preserve Gullah Geechee and African American heritage and heritage sites in Coastal Georgia will be showcased on Saturday, May 18, from 2-4 p.m., at Epworth by the Sea, Culbreth Building #5-6, 100 Arthur J Moore Drive. The program is free and open to the public.

Sacred Ground: Ebo Landing Past and Present is a program of digital stories based on interviews conducted by Mercer University students in collaboration with the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition

The program also includes a presentation titled “Reclaiming Ebo Landing,” a forthcoming Monument Lab Re:Generation exhibition and performance honoring the history of Ebo Landing and the stories, legends and myths it created. Presenters include Dr. Melanie Pavich, associate professor of history and interdisciplinary studies in Mercer’s College of Professional Advancement; Dr. Christopher Lawton, lecturer in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Lynn Marshall Linnemeier, visual mythologist; Montu Miller, Cedar Shoals High School social studies educator, University of Georgia social studies program visiting scholar and COO of ATHfactor-Liberty Entertainment; and Amy Roberts, executive director of the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition.

Dr. Pavich has received three grants for the nine-plus-year research-based service-learning project from Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.

St. Simons Project at Strangers Cemetery
A group from Mercer, including Dr. Melanie Pavich, fourth from left, looks at a grave at Strangers Cemetery on St. Simons Island in August 2021. For the past several years, Dr. Pavich’s students have been learning the stories of African Americans buried at Strangers and elsewhere on the island. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith.

Her research is focused on race and gender in the South during the 19th and early 20th centuries and includes the study of African American education and teachers. She has developed research-and-service-learning-based courses for undergraduate students centered on the study of Gullah Geechee and African American communities and schools in Georgia.

She is the author of Anna: The Letters of a St. Simons Island Plantation Mistress, 1817-1859, published by the University of Georgia Press, and is currently working on a biography of Martha Schofield, a teacher of African Americans in South Carolina from 1865 to 1916.

About the College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit