Skip to main content

Jacquelyn E Benton

African American Studies
Central 304G

Vita File

Research Areas/Interests

I have been studying the Gullah-Geechee people for several years. They comprise a distinctive segment of the African American community in that their ancestors were brought to the United States because of their knowledge of rice cultivation--a definite interest of planters in South Carolina and Georgia during the slave era, but an area in which they had no expertise.

The planters' reliance on the expertise of Africans from areas known as the Rice Coast resulted in a specialized (and often illegal) slave trade, a transformation of the landscape of the sea islands into successful rice plantations, and an isolated Black sea island community able to retain much of its African heritage.

My interest in the Gullah-Geechee people and culture resulted in my writing a Metro course called The Gullah Experience, which included a five-day trip into the Lowcountry so that students, particularly African American Studies majors and minors, could experience the culture directly. The first trip in 2005 included both college students and community members, as have subsequent trips. The course was again offered in Fall 2011 with the trip extended to seven days, which included travel in Georgia and South Carolina, and the Fall 2013 trip will include the state of Florida.

Conference Participation

In March 2008, I gave a presentation at the annual conference of the National Council for Black Studies, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia. The presentation was entitled, "The Water Brought Us," and highlighted the Gullah Studies Institute that took place on the Auraria campus in June 2006.

The Institute brought eight presenters from South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, consisting of Gullah scholars, Gullah language speakers, a Gullah storyteller, and a Gullah sweetgrass basket maker. In addition, participants saw films about the culture and had the opportunity to sample Gullah cuisine.

In September 2011, I participated in a three day symposium at the Avery Research Center in Charleston, South Carolina, which acknowledged the twenty year anniversary of Julie Dash's "Daughters of the Dust." This Gullah/Geechee film was the subject of my master's thesis.

In 2012, I facilitated the exhibit entitled "The Water Brought Us: Passport to Africa in America." The exhibit was hosted by Johnson Legacy, Inc., a nonprofit organization, and RedLine, an art space located in the Curtis Park Community, and took place over three weekends in September. The exhibit brought to Denver Jonathan Green, Gullah Visual Artist, and the McIntosh County Shouters, practitioners of the Ring Shout Tradition, among others.


Reading Black Literature is a personal interest of mine, which has translated into my teaching as well. I also have a serious interest in Black Genealogy, which has taken me back to Arkansas and Alabama to trace my family's roots. I also had the MatriClan analysis done through African Ancestry, which traced my maternal roots to four countries in West Africa. Since one of them was Sierra Leone, which has direct connections to Gullah/Geechee people, I have wondered if my interest in Gullah/Geechee history and culture is a result of chance or an ancestral memory.

Selected Projects

Recently, I have become quite interested in looking at the Transatlantic Slave Trade from the other side of the ocean. This interest was ignited by Dr. Teresa Unseld, a former colleague here at Metro, and she and I had explored the possibility of offering a course called "London & the Transatlantic Slave Trade," which would take students to London. She and I took two trips to London together in preparation for the course; however, Dr. Unseld is no longer teaching at Metro, so the course I am working on currently is a continuation of her efforts.

Current Projects

Currently, I am working on a course that will take students to London and Liverpool in the United Kingdom for two weeks. In London, the focus will be on a permanent gallery entitled, "London, Slavery, and Sugar," which is located at the Museum of London Docklands, and the focus in Liverpool will be the International Slavery Museum that is located there. The course will be offered during Maymester 2015.

Courses Taught


Office Hours

Monday - [08:30 to 01:30]

Photo of Jacquelyn E Benton

Current Semester Schedule

41890 AAS-1010-002 Intro to Africana Studies TBA TBA-TBA
42384 AAS-3250-001 Black Women Writers TBA TBA-TBA
42884 WMS-3250-001 Black Women Writers TBA TBA-TBA

Edit this page