Circle Unbroken — A Gullah Journey from Africa to America, a local film produced by Ron Small, will air on PBS on Mon. Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. The film is what Small describes as a “musical documentary,” with a historical narrative framing moments of singing in significant locations, like spots on the Sea Islands and in Beaufort, S.C.

“Gullah culture has such a huge impact on the U.S.,” says Small. “If you’re African American there’s a 75 percent chance you came from the Gullah people in South Carolina.”

Small, a self-proclaimed Jewish boy from Chicago, first got involved with the Gullah/Geechee community about 20 years ago when Anita Singleton Prather a.k.a. Aunt Pearlie Sue, a well-known Gullah/Geechee scholar and storyteller, asked for his help in producing a show. 

Small says that his inspiration for Gullah/Geechee productions comes simply from a desire to educate people — not just those in the Gullah/Geechee community, but everyone with ties to Charleston’s history. He recently created, a source for all things Gullah/Geechee and a platform for Gullah/Geechee-produced arts. 

Circle Unbroken — A Gullah Journey from Africa to America began simply as a concert. After the tragedy at Emanuel AME, Small says he realized that the community deserved a more fleshed-out product to celebrate the area’s heritage. “There’s a lot of room for more material,” says Small of the future of his Gullah/Geechee productions. “It’s a history everybody needs to know.”

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.