SINHG Gullah Tour

This past Wednesday, twenty of us piled into a small white bus at the Charleston Visitor Center and spent the next two hours under the spell of its owner, the inestimable Alphonso Brown.

This is billed as a ‘Gullah Tour’ but, in fact, it’s one of the most comprehensive overviews of the downtown peninsula that we’ve ever taken. Reverend Brown is a smart, funny man—at times irreverently so!—and a sidewalk philosopher, to boot.
As you drive past old Charleston buildings and homes, churches, parks, etc., he deftly weaves history with anecdotal commentary, much of it from a Gullah or black perspective. He’s very uplifting, and in these times when we seem so at odds with one another, he’s somehow very reassuring.

This optimism is reflected in Mr. Brown’s focus on Charleston’s Phillip Simmons, a black ironworker whose ornamental gates and fencing are highly prized—so much so, that among his many accolades, he was invited to dine at the Reagan White House and is honored as a ‘National Treasure.’ Throughout his life, he remained a man of simple wants, dedicated to God, his family, and his community. We saw much of Phillip Simmons’ beautiful ironwork on this tour and even visited his modest home and workshop. His legacy is a lesson to us all.

This was a wonderful trip and one SINHG will definitely repeat. Below are two photos taken on the bus and at Phillip Simmons’ workshop, both showing our guide, Alphonso Brown, smiling broadly. That’s how he’d like it.

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Submitted by Carol Bane

One thought on “SINHG Gullah Tour”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am definitely going to try to book a tour with Mr. Brown when I return to Seabrook.

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