Georgia Black Fisherman | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Georgia Black Fisherman

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Dionne Hoskins
  • African American participation in marine-related careers began as early as 1796, when the federal government issued Seamen’s Protection Certificates to merchant mariners defining them as “citizens” of the United States effectively making maritime employment one way for Blacks to shape their identities. This collection This project documents the fishery-related occupations of African Americans in coastal Georgia 1865 to present and gather information for future work that may ascertain the relationship between their decreased participation and changes in regional fish populations and the fishing industry.

Interviewee Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation Collection
Cassie Williams

Mrs. Cassie Williams gives us a vivid description of the fishing community in Thunderbolt, Georgia and how relationships between African American families grew with time. She gives the names of numerous processing factories and the families that owned them. Not only does she describe the lifestyle of a fisherman's wife but also the career choice of a lifetime.

Dionne Hoskins Thunderbolt, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Robert Thorpe

Reverend Robert Thorpe, one of the original members of the Harris Neck community explains fishing, crabbing, and oyster picking in McIntosh County, Georgia. He recounts the locations and ownership succession of oyster factories in the area. Thorpe's oral history describes how catch was sold in Harris Neck and surrounding communities to support his family; the roles of men and women working in oyster plants; and wintertime trapping as a way to supplement fishing income.

Jolvan Morris Townsend, GA NOAA Georgia Black Fisherman
Anne Lee Thorpe

Mrs. Anne Lee Thorpe describes in great detail the role of the African American Woman in the fishing and shrimping arena and how her deceased husband had a major impact as a fisherman in the Thunderbolt, Georgia community.

Dionne Hoskins Thunderbolt, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Olive Smith

Olive Smith is one of the original members of the Harris Neck community in McIntosh County Georgia. In her oral history, she explains how her mother provided food for the family by picking oysters at low tide during the winters and catching crabs. Olive's account is a brief glimpse of what life was like for the women of this fishing community.

Jolvan Morris Townsend, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Charles Murray

Mr. Charles Murray gives a detail account of growing up in a fishing family. He explains how his father was one of the first African- Americans to own his own vessel. While fishing was second nature to him he tells of the industry and commercial aspects of fishing.

Dionne Hoskins Thunderbolt, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Wilson Moran

Mr. Wilson Moran, historian and Harris Neck decedent describes environmental stewardship in the local oyster and crab fishery. He gives an account of changes in the fishery due to anthropogenic impacts including pollution and over harvesting. Mr. Moran concludes his oral history explaining his father's work as a commercial crab fisherman and how a working knowledge of the estuary contributed to success in the fishery.

Jolvan Morris Townsend, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Ernest L. McIntosh Sr.

Ernest L. McIntosh Sr. is an oysterman and blue crab fisherman in Harris Neck, GA. Known in the community as the :last Black blue crab fisherman," Mr. McIntosh shares his family's history in the crabbing business from building a plant to providing jobs for members of the community. He also discusses the circumstances of his family's exit from the commercial fishing industry; as well as the environmental and business changes he's seen in the fishery since he started in the late 70's.

Jolvan Morris Townsend, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Griffin Lotson

Commissioner Griffin Lotson reflects on his experience with the shrimp industry in Darien, Georgia. He discusses the role of fishing in the Gullah Geechee community in terms of making a living, ethnic identity, and culture.

Jolvan Morris Darien, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Otis Hayward

He discussed how his family were commercial fisherman. His father (Thomas Hayward) and his brother (Thomas Johnson) were a commercial fisherman and the primary catch was shrimp. How his father's teachings helped as a fisherman and stirred his life into the political direction. Family on his fathers side were shrimpers and family on his mothers side were commercial fisherman.

Dionne Hoskins Savannah, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman
Herman Hanif Haynes

Interview with Herman Hanif Haynes.

Dionne Hoskins Pin Point, GA NOAA, Savannah State University Georgia Black Fisherman