From Savannah to living history

I AM SAVANNAH PROUD

From Savannah to living history

Be proud of where you come from. Dr. Amir Jamal Touré is passionate about the past. He hops on desks. Dons face paint and a rainbow of African attire. He rattles off dates in rapid fire, relaying even the smallest events, relationships, and trials and triumphs that have made Savannah, Georgia, and the country what it is today. He keeps history alive – in and out of the classroom.

“I tell my students, ‘Each one of us has a divine purpose. You’re not here by happenstance or by accident. Each one of you is great. Others helped you along that path to greatness, so you have to reach back to bring other people along.’”

In Savannah’s Franklin Square? Look up! Dr. Touré was the model for the Haitian Monument’s historian figure.

As an expert in African and Gullah/Geechee history and culture, the Savannah-area native considers himself the city’s djeli, or historian. He’s the founder of Day Clean Journeys, an African-American history tour company that runs throughout coastal Georgia and South Carolina, and the resident scholar at Geechee Kunda, a history museum and cultural center in Riceboro, Georgia, that chronicles Gullah/Geechee life.

“Folks come from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin and South America, and Iceland – from all around the world. No matter where you come from, I’m going to find a way to connect you to history and culture.”

Those connections are powerful. Because, as Dr. Touré says, when people understand their history, they have the kind of strong foundation and sense of self to take control of their own stories.

That idea has driven SSU to produce Savannah’s annual Black Heritage Festival since 2000. During February, thousands of people come together to celebrate Black history and culture through experiences like art exhibits, jazz concerts, history walks, cultural lectures, African dance ensembles, and craft and culinary classes.

The Festival is a way to connect to the past. Because history is so much more than what once was. For Dr. Touré, it’s the pride in knowing where we come from that shapes knowing where we’ll go. Or as he puts it: “History is living, and it is vibrant, and it is tangible for people.” Seriously Impressive


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