When Roots Die

Endangered Traditions on the Sea Islands

Patricia Jones-Jackson

Foreword by Charles Joyner

Title Details

Pages: 224

Illustrations: 15 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/07/2004

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2393-0

List Price: $27.95

When Roots Die

Endangered Traditions on the Sea Islands

Patricia Jones-Jackson

Foreword by Charles Joyner

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  • Description
  • Reviews
When Roots Die celebrates and preserves the venerable Gullah culture of the sea islands of the South Carolina and Georgia coast. Entering into communities long isolated from the world by a blazing sun and salt marshes, Patricia Jones-Jackson captures the cadence of the storyteller lost in the adventures of "Brer Rabbit," records voices lifted in song or prayer, and describes folkways and beliefs that have endured, through ocean voyage and human bondage, for more than two hundred years.

A remarkable book about the life and language of the Sea Islands.

National Geographic

Jones-Jackson's sketches of her Wadmalaw Island friends and informants are uniformly rewarding. In a series of gilt-edged portraits, she introduces us to Gullah-speaking men and women whom the twentieth century is crowding out. . . . At the end of this short book, the reader wishes there were more. More tales from the lips of Ted Williams; more sermons from the allusive genius of the Reverend Renty Pickney, who has memorized the Bible; more interviews with fishermen like Daniel Dent, who can call porpoises for miles around.

Natural History

Jones-Jackson's greatest contribution is her consideration of language. Although, as she insists, written accounts cannot properly capture the vividness and vitality of linguistic expression in a culture that is still basically oral, she comes as close as may be possible to accomplishing that task.

North Carolina Historical Review

This book is based on fieldwork done for the late Jones-Jackson's dissertation (1978), an ethnography of the Gullah language surviving on the Sea Islands off of the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia . . . Although the subject has previously attracted substantial scholarly attention, Jones-Jackson's work adds greater description and analysis of the performance and social context of the Gullah language and lore. She also provides comparisons drawn from performances that she collected firsthand in Africa . . . The collection she presents-prayers, sermons, and ‘Brer Rabbit and other animal tales-is a rich trove of lore that scholars will appreciate. Students also will appreciate the work because of Jones-Jackson's clear writing.


About the Author/Editor

PATRICIA JONES-JACKSON, an associate professor of English at Howard University, died in 1986 while on assignment for the National Geographic Society on Johns Island, South Carolina.