During a press conference held at the Historic Midway First Presbyterian Church, public historian and Sankofa African American Heritage Trail of East Liberty County Public Relations Coordinator Hermina Glass-Hill announced that Georgia Humanities and Georgia Department of Economic Development awarded the non-profit a $1,500 grant to develop an interactive and creative digital app that would allow tourists and residents to access multiple heritage sites across the eastern parts of Liberty County.
Midway FPC Reverend Jamil el-Shair welcomed and thanked those in attendance for coming on behalf of the Sankofa committee. el-Shair and three other committee members work tirelessly to help record the history of Liberty County, and to help preserve and restore the heritage sites.
“We are a group of four people that have come together to capture the rich history here,” el-Shair said. “One of the things that’s really important to us is that we having a saying that ‘as long as you call their names, they will live forever’”.
Glass-Hill began the program by explaining the origins of the non-profit Sankofa. The group, consisting of Glass-Hill, el-Shair, Willie Holmes Washington, and Rose Stevens Mullice, came together nearly 16 months ago in a very organic and intentional way, Glass-Hill said.
“We each realized the importance of historical and cultural resources that formed our ancestors and continues to form us,” Glass-Hill said. “We made it our mission to focus on the four main points: P.R.E.S. Preservation, restoration, education and stewardship.”
The grant, Glass-Hill continued, will allow Sankofa to develop a digital app that will incorporate approximately 17 different historic heritage sites in Midway, Sunbury and Riceboro. All of the information will be input by Glass-Hill, allowing for complete accuracy of each site’s history.
Sites include places such as the land in Freedman Grove where Dr. Simon Fennimore Frazier’s house once stood, Ebenezer Church, the Lambright house, Ebenezer Cemetery, Limerick Lodge and Order of the Eastern Star, and many more.
“The digital tour is a downloadable app, and the content of the downloadable information will contain 17 historic sites in east Liberty County, ranging from educational institutions, community schools, churches, cemeteries,” she continued. “What the app will do is you will be able to take a tour from the north end of Highway 17, down to Sunbury, into Riceboro, and come back around. It is a wonderful way in which we can contribute to the stories in Liberty County.”
“I want to emphasize, what this grant will allow us to do,” el-Shair said. “It’s going to be a digital app, that when you get near a cultural artifact, the app will pop up and show you. We are blessed to have Hermina Glass-Hill, who is trained to enter all of this information in, so it will be accurate. This is cultural tourism. It’s a beautiful way to generate interest in the community, revenue in the community—in a way that’s not negatively impacted.”
Sankofa is a fairly new non-profit, according to Glass-Hill. Formed about a year and a half ago, they just received their 501c3 status, and this is the first major project they are undertaking, she added.
“We are the first of its kind in Liberty County,” Glass-Hill said. “We are the first to do the kind of preservation consciousness about African American and Geechee heritage. We are our own entity, but as it stands right now, we’re growing and building upon what we have.”