Sea Islands

Bertha Smith & Mary Pinckney
Moving Star Hall, 1964
Photographer: Robert Yellin

Some important songs and powerful singing traditions come from the Sea Islands. When Guy introduced the spiritual used in the labor movement "Keep Your Hand on the Plow, Hold On," Mrs. Alice Wine told him "I know a different echo." "We sing 'keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.'" Later on she found it hard to believe that she was responsible for passing on the well known civil rights song "Eyes on the Prize."

"I'll Overcome Someday" was also well known in the low country before it was adapted in Charleston by the Food and Tobacco workers in a 1945 strike and became "We Will Overcome."

It was brought up to a labor workshop at Highlander in 1947 where it became a theme song.

For many Johns Island people, Moving Star Hall -- a tiny, weathered, clapboard building -- provided an important meeting place.


Moving Star Hall, 1964
Photographer: Robert Yellin

Mary Deas Testifying
Moving Star Hall, 1964
Photographer: Leonard Freed

It housed a "tend-the-sick" and burial society, a secret lodge, and a community of worship. Here the members could express themselves freely and fully; in the Sunday night worship service each person took a turn preaching, testifying, praying, or raising a song.

Sea Islands: Page 3 of 4

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