Georgia Black Fishermen

1 - 10 of 19

Page 1 of 2

  • 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 Sort descending Collection Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Annie Lee Thorpe Georgia Black Fishermen

Mrs. Annie Lee Thorpe was the seventh of eight children, born in 1923 in Mayport, Florida. Mrs. Thorpe recalls that her family structure changed when she was 12, after the death of her mother. She then moved to Savannah to live with her older sister; however, she was unable to complete her primary education due to her sister’s illness. Soon after, Mrs. Thorpe married James Joseph “Joe” Thorpe, one of the few African American shrimp boat captains in Savannah. They began their family in 1953 and had four children.

Monet Murphy Thunderbolt, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
Cassie Williams Georgia Black Fishermen

Mrs. Cassie Williams, a native of Thunderbolt, Georgia—a small community five miles southeast of Savannah in Chatham County, was born in 1934 and was the youngest of eight children. After completing six years of school in Savannah, she traveled to New York to finish her education, but had to return before graduation to take care of her father. Mrs. Williams grew up surrounded by a fishing community, where she and her husband of 53 years raised their children and grandchildren in the house he built.  Throughout her life, Mrs.

Dionne Hoskins, Money Murphy Thunderbolt, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
Charles Hall Georgia Black Fishermen

Charles Hall was born in 1934 on Sapelo Island, Georgia—a small Gullah Geechee community founded on the fourth largest barrier island in the 1700s, 60 miles south of Savannah, in McIntosh County. Mr. Hall earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Morehouse College in Georgia and Physical Therapy certification from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. He worked as a physical therapist in Ohio until his retirement. Along with service in the United States Air Force, Mr. Hall served in prominent positions within community organizations in Ohio before moving back to Georgia.

Dionne Hoskins Sapelo Island, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
Charles Murray Georgia Black Fishermen

Mr. Charles Murray grew up in Savannah, Georgia surrounded by a fishing community his entire life. He learned the trade, which he found easy, from his father who was a commercial shrimper and was the first African American in Thunderbolt to own his own boat. Coastal Georgia was the epicenter for shrimping and was where he, his father, and two brothers made their living. Mr. Murray was one of 10 children and joined his father’s business at the age of 16; he married twice and had children and lived his entire life in Savannah.

Dionne Hoskins Thunderbolt, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
Cornelia Walker Bailey Georgia Black Fishermen

Mrs. Cornelia Walker Bailey, a prominent historian on Sapelo Island—Georgia’s fourth largest barrier island only accessible by ferry, boat, or plane—was born on June 12, 1945. Mrs. Bailey’s family tree and presence on the island is well documented and can be traced back to her ancestors who purchased the island after the end of slavery. Mrs.

Dionne Hoskins Sapelo Island, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
Ernest L. McIntosh Sr. Georgia Black Fishermen

Ernest McIntosh Sr. and his four brothers were born into a crabbing family, surrounded by 2,700 acres of coastal saltwater wildlife refuge in Harris Neck, Georgia—30 miles south of Savannah, in McIntosh County. Although his brothers immediately pursued crabbing with their father, Ernest worked as a construction laborer until he was laid off in 1978. He returned to the waters of his childhood and began commercially harvesting blue crab on the five boats owned by his family. After seeing no long-term future in the crabbing industry from environmental and environmental changes, Mr.

Jolvan Morris Townsend, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
George Walker Georgia Black Fishermen

George Walker was born in 1946 on Sapelo Island, Georgia—a small Gullah Geechee community founded on the fourth largest barrier island in the 1700s, 60 miles south of Savannah, in McIntosh County. That was a popular year for births on the island, following World War II and a busy year for the only midwife on the island. Mr. Walker was unable to complete high school, which would have been helpful during his pursuit of his captain’s license. Mr.

Cathy Sakas Unknown NOAA
Griffin Lotson Georgia Black Fishermen

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
Herman "Hanif" Haynes Georgia Black Fishermen

Herman Haynes, better known as “Hanif,” grew up watching the daily ebb and flood of the Moon River behind his family’s property in Pin Point, Georgia—a small Gullah Geechee community founded in 1896 eleven miles southeast of Savannah, in Chatham County. The river played a pivotal role in Hanif’s life, as it was where he was baptized as a member of the Sweetfield of Eden Baptist Church and where he swam each summer with his friends. At the insistence of his family, Hanif pursued his education and employment outside of the crab industry.

Dionne Hoskins Pin Point, GA NOAA, Savannah State University
Kenneth Dunham Georgia Black Fishermen

Mr. Kenneth Dunham describes his early life in the rural coastal Georgia community of Harris Neck. Kenneth describes his father's role in the community as a boat builder, and how lessons in woodwork, carpentry, and boat building have been passed for generations. Kenneth talks about (and demonstrates) how nets and "trap lines" are made, as well as recounts how the different fishes, crabs, and terrapins were caught in this homemade gear.

Jolvan Morris Townsend, GA NOAA, Savannah State University