We Speak Fuh We
Oral Histories of African-American life from Savannah at the turn of the 20th century through the Civil Rights Movement
Why We Speak Fuh We matters?
Nelson Mandela said that moving forward as a people requires the wisdom of the elders and the energy of the youth. The youth’s energy can’t be escaped. It’s on the radio, on the television, in the magazines, up and down the street, and on the news. Elder wisdom, however, is our greatest untapped resource. It’s present, but the demand is lacking. And we need it now more than ever.
“Where a mentor invites the genius of a youth to come out of its hiding, an elder blesses that genius, thereby allowing it to serve efficiently the greater good.” -Maldoma Patrice Some
As much as our elders need us, we need them too! An interdependent, multigenerational, richly complex community enriches our existence. It deepens our sense of identity, our sense of purpose, and our sense of belonging–all of which are necessary ingredients in having pride in who you are and where you’re from.
We Speak Fuh We also preserves a language and way of life that would otherwise die with its owners. Culture constantly evolves. The Gullah Geechee spoken today is not the same as it was ten, twenty, or fifty years ago. The same for how we treat our injuries and illnesses, how we prepare our meals, and raise our families. It’s important to hold onto these traditions, however, because it’s our history, our roots, and our inspiration.
What We Speak Fuh We means?
Foremost, the term was introduced to me by Ms. Patt Gunn, the owner and operator of The Center for Jubilee Reconciliation and Healing, Inc. When I heard it, I thought it was a perfect fit for this project, and fortunately, she said yes to my using it
It’s a Gullah Geechee phrase that translates to “We speak for ourselves.” To avoid our history being misrepresented, we ought to record, write, and teach it ourselves. That goes for any group of people. No one can speak for you. No one should speak for you. You speak for yourself. Who speak fuh we? We Speak Fuh We!
Who I Am
I’m Trelani, mama of So Fundamental, which was founded in 2012 to help people write their stories. I create safe spaces–online and in person–for teens and grown folk to explore and express their thoughts and ideas through writing.
I’ve worked with various organizations including Savannah State University, The Deep Center, Jepson Center for Arts, The City of Savannah, The Life Design Agency, and The Black Women’s Life Balance and Wellness Institute, assisting over 1,500 people in writing and showcasing their stories.
I graduated from Savannah State in 2012 with a degree in Political Science then SCAD in 2016 with a Master’s in Writing. In addition to teaching the art of storytelling, I’ve published five books and ghostwrote a few more.
Now I want to use my experiences to give back by leading a project that explores Savannah’s roots and culture, while financially supporting its writers and artists.
Vision fuh the book
The same way that the writers of the Federal Writer’s Project interviewed former enslaved persons, We Speak Fuh We includes stories of Chatham County residents who are 80 years old and up about their struggles, victories, and cultural inheritances (including recipes, medicines, and physical and spiritual survival tips).
The first part of the book introduces the “come heres,” those who moved to Savannah. The second part introduces the “been heres,” those who were born and raised here. Subsequent chapters weave narratives related to topics such as:
- West Broad Street: The Black Business District
- Ending Segregation
- The Role of the Black Church
- United House of Prayer: Sweet Daddy Grace
- Education: The Key to Freedom
- Joining the Great Migration: Moving North
- Fighting at Home and Abroad
The Project’s Cost + Timeline
We Speak Fuh We costs $10,000 to publish. Each elder requires an initial two-hour interview then one or two more follow-up interviews to complete the story. Proceeds cover time and mileage, promotional materials and memberships, as well as editors and photographers.
Release date: February 2018
- $25 up = an autographed copy (signed by editors, writers, and artists)
- $100 up = an autographed copy + website/social media acknowledgement
- $500 up = an autographed copy + website/social media acknowledgement + personal invitation to the release party
- $1,000 up = everything above + acknowledgement in the book
- $10,000 up = everything above + you can write the foreword
We Speak Fuh We in the news
- GoFundMe :: Help Save Savannah’s Black History
With your help, we can make sure Savannah’s Black history and culture is recorded and shared in its most wholesome form for generations to come. Donate now.
- Medium :: A Fun (and Easy) Way of Digging into Your Family History
I registered with Ancestry and filled in as much of my family tree as I could, which wasn’t much. It didn’t take long to figure out that as black folks, genealogy goes from feeling like a 100-piece puzzle to a 2000-piece. And that can get frustrating and exhausting…quickly! I have a better way of getting started with family history though… Read more.
- Savannah Magazine :: This Author’s Catalogue of Local Biographies is a Must-Read
As talks of renaming the Talmadge Bridge and removing Forsyth Park’s Confederate memorial sweep Savannah into the national debate—specifically which history to honor and how—Trelani Michelle Duncan is setting her sights on history worth honoring. Read more.