Dakota Rhodes ’18- Below is author and Gullah Geechee resident, Mrs. Cornelia W. Bailey. It was a pleasure to meet her on Sapelo Island this past Saturday. Aaron Stewart and I had the pleasure of sitting with her to hear her story, as well as anything else that she wanted to tell us, or answer questions we had about her culture and up bringing. She is a native of Sapelo Island; having been born and entirely brought up in that culture. Her husband owns the only convenience store on the island. She is now in her sixties living what she said is a good life. We talked mostly about how she felt about growing up in Sapelo, how her life has been, and exciting things that she was apart of. One thing that I found very interesting about Mrs. Bailey was the fact that she had written a book based off of the time period that she was born into. It wasn’t very common in the era that Mrs. Bailey was raised in for a woman to be educated beyond grade school. She had told us how her parents made her go to school to get an education and how it has affected her up to this day.
One funny thing about Mrs. Bailey was that she doesn’t like for her picture taken unless you ask her first; even refusing to the most inquisitive of visitors. I like the fact that she has respect for herself for being a living historian of Sapelo Island culture. However, she never wants for people to look or treat her like she is a tourist attraction. She has pride for herself as a Gullah and the legacy that she carries. After Aaron and I were done talking with her and were ready to go, she made us wait and asked her neighbor to go get us some Sapelo pecans from her tree in her yard. We received a three-pound bag of pecans for Mrs. Bailey for taking time to talk to her. That was my time with Mrs. Cornelia Bailey.