Eugenia P. Deas
Born in McClellanville in 1924, Mrs. Eugenia P. Deas, or “Sister Genia” as the locals call her, draws upon the rich heritage of Gullah culture for her storytelling. Mrs. Eugenia is an encyclopaedia – a very entertaining one – of the history of the town and Gullah culture. She tells amazing stories from her own childhood and her life, and passes on the stories received from her grandparents, who received them from generations before.
She is a consummate storyteller and entertainer, switching from English to Gullah and back again in her lilting and musical voice. She passes on stories of incredible tragedy and hardship, yet she laughs often. Her language is salty and memorable. There is a rough sense of reality, but no bitterness, in her tales. History has left its mark and its scars on her body and its record in her memory. Any traces that she leaves on audio and videotape will be treasured by generations to come as an invaluable record of Gullah culture in South Carolina. Deas received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2005.