South Carolina Island Subculture Threatened by Supermarket

<p>A small and distinct subculture of African Americans on the island of St. Helena on the coast of South Carolina is increasingly threatened by developers who want to bring a supermarket and golf courses to the island.</p>
February 6, 2008, 8am PST | Nate Berg
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"Developers from Florida want to build a supermarket on St Helena, one of the Sea Islands that dot the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Many locals object. Last year they mounted a letter-writing campaign against another proposed supermarket, and that one backed off. They worry that a big chain would imperil the region's distinctive black culture, called Gullah or Geechee."

"The white planters who settled the Sea Islands imported thousands of slaves from West Africa, and in the comparative isolation of the islands they developed a culture that retains a strong African influence."

"The question of how to balance economic development with cultural preservation has always been a tough one."

"St Helena has an ordinance against golf courses, but a supermarket may be a step in that direction. There is already one (Publix) on the adjacent island, and another (Piggly Wiggly) on the mainland."

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Published on Thursday, January 31, 2008 in The Economist
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