Joseph Blake, Jr. is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. As “Gullah Joe” descendant of enslaved Africans he brings the songs, language and stories told like nowhere else in the Lowcountry. Blake grew up in the authentic “Gullah” community called Red Top. His education included the history and tradition of Gullah culture and studies at the historically black college, Savannah State University in Savannah GA.
As owner of “Native Son Gullah Tours”, he guides national and international tour groups though the journey of Africans that landed in the Charleston area that were the foundation for what is known as Gullah. He brings to life the unique artwork, language, food, work and family life, styles of worship and struggle of the Gullah people.
“Gullah Joe” reaches back in his heritage of being the 9th generation of a plantation slave, Harriet, owned by European based Manigault family among the French Huguenots who emigrated here to the Charleston area in the late 17th century. From Harriet to Amos (Judy), parents of Scipio who married Lydia .. great great grandparents.
In 1887, Lydia Manigault, a former slave purchased 25.5 acres of land for $400 . Before dying, she made sure her children\grandchildren understood it was her wish to preserve the family by preserving the land and our culture. I, along with my family “Blake-Manigault” are custodians of the past as well as trustees of the future.
“We’re rooted in a humbling and humiliating past of capture, chain, auction block and enslavement. It is my duty to get our connection to Africa and we owe our African-American Gullah-Geechee heritage a debt of gratitude for its valuable gift of culture and keeping us connected to who we are. I realize that folktales,songs, and words that come through me are the voice’s of the ancestor’s echoing.”
“If you can’t go to Africa, come to Charleston” connect with the “Gullah-Geechee” that is who I am keeping the culture alive.”
Mr. Blake has traveled all over the world learning about other cultures and sharing his knowledge of the culture and trade, tradition’s of the Gullah people.