From the CNN piece, Gullah/Geechee (December 10, 2012):
Brought to America from rice-producing Sierra Leone and other surrounding countries, the enslaved Africans came from a wide variety of ethnic groups. For many of them, the first contact with the New World was Sullivan’s Island — just off Charleston, South Carolina — a place of huge emotional value for the Gullah/Geechee community to this day.
“This is the landing point for over 40% of all the African people enslaved in North America,” says Queen Quet. “It represents a place of pain; it also represents a place of connection because we’re standing at the shore and we’re looking eastward — we’re looking back home, we’re looking to our mother, the mother land, mother Africa.”
Carlie Towne, minister of information of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, says the Africans brought to the island were quarantined in pestilence houses to make sure they didn’t have any diseases.
“A lot of people refer to this as the Ellis Island, but it’s not, because we did not come freely,” says Towne. “It didn’t kill the spirit, because we are here today and paying homage today to our ancestors. It actually gave us a sense of community, of living together. Everything we did, it was a way for us to actually become who we are. It actually made us stronger and we continue today the legacy of our ancestors.”
And please check out the following CNN videos that accompanied the piece – they are quite good: