September 2023 Issue
Photography by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
Sallie Ann Robinson
Birthplace: Daufuskie Island, SC
Career: Teacher’s Aide, CNA, Author, Chef, Historian, Tour Guide
Family: Sister, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Auntie
Passion: Preserving the Gullah Culture Graveyards and Old Houses on Daufuskie Island
You are a Daufuskie Island Native. Tell us why your history is so special to you?
I am a sixth generation born native from a beautiful and special Island—“Dawfuskie.” Besides being my birthplace, this place is my history that will always be within me. As a born native you don’t just love the Island, you are a part of the Island. As a descendent, I am not just Gullah on my grandfather’s side, I am also part native American Indian on my grandmother’s side—two very strong-willed cultures I am proud of. My history is my identity of people long before I knew myself. I embrace it with all I can do to help preserve it, so generations to come will know and appreciate their heritage.
You started your own Gullah Tour company, tell us about the highlights of the tour:
I started my Authentic Gullah Tour in September 2019. COVID didn’t help, but I had a good feeling about telling stories. I share stories of a time gone by (but not forgotten)—some of the best years of my life. I remember my parents and others sharing what it was like when they grew up on the Island. My tour is three hours of fun, learning some history about the Island and hearing about the people and how they survived. The tour has five stops, and we get off the bus to tour inside historic buildings at four of them. One stop is at a Gullah grave site. And near the end we stop at the church; I enjoy singing an old gospel spiritual song.
Being one of the rare students Author Pat Conroy writes about in his book The Water is Wide, what was one thing you learned from him?
I learned a lot from Pat Conroy that one school year he taught because he made learning fun. He had a passion for teaching and believed in us as kids who needed more exposure. He took us on several class trips on his own dime to places we had never been.
Successful author, Gullah Tour guide, private chef, how do you juggle the hustle of life?
Like my Pop used to say, “You can do and be anything in life you want, but you first have to do one thing before you can do anything: WAKE UP! So, I wake up and first give thanks to my higher power, and then I lay in my bed awake for about an hour before I get up and send some of my friends and family some positive messages. Sometimes I go to bed with one plan and wake up to another. I have learned to take one minute at a time and enjoy my blessings. I don’t put any more on my plate than I can enjoy. I don’t work harder these days, I work smarter, and life is grand because I manage it as I need it, not as I want it. We must learn how to meet the need in life so we can catch up and smell the roses. Daufuskie gives me that joy.
You have been featured on major network television, as well as in O and Southern Living magazines and Condé Nast Traveler. Tell us about your books:
I have three cookbooks, and I’m co-author of a history book of Daufuskie Island. Pat Conroy wrote a heartfelt foreword in my first cookbook, which has 100 recipes, stories, and pictures. My second cookbook is 75 recipes and 25 home remedies. Both cookbooks were published by the University of North Carolina. My third cookbook has 100 recipes, stories and a glossary of Gullah words and definitions. And the history book has pictures and captions, some of them dating back to the 1800s. Still writing…
Preserving the Gullah culture and properties on Daufuskie takes time, labor, and money. How can people help?
It would be most appreciated if folks would book a tour by going to my website www.gullahtours.org. You can also give a donation on the website or send a check to Daufuskie Island Gullah Heritage Society, 126 Bryant Road, P.O Box 93, Daufuskie Island, SC, 29915. I would be most thankful. There are 10 Gullah homes I would love to see restored and used as Airbnbs so the public can come and experience an authentic home experience, visit the Island, and enjoy memories of yesteryear.
In your spare time, what are a few things we can find you doing to treat yourself?
Cooking helps me relax. Writing and researching my ancestors is something I find amazing. I also spend as much time as I can with family.
Name 3 of your favorite things about Daufuskie Island!
1. It’s my home. 2. It’s peaceful. 3. It’s unique—a place like no other!
With a strong will and even stronger voice, what are you currently Roaring about?
It’s important to preserve the Gullah culture and historical sites on Daufuskie—it’s what makes it so magical. I am adamant about maintaining the five Gullah graveyards and would like to ask people to volunteer to help clean them in the months of October and November. And, If anyone is a grant writer and willing to help, we need funding to help restore these Gullah homes so native families will not lose their property to high taxes. Preserving the history and restoring the past is our legacy for our future.