Herman "Hanif" Haynes

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Georgia Black Fishermen


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.

Principal Investigator

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. He returned to work as a cultural interpreter to share Gullah Geechee history at the Pin Point Heritage Museum, located at the restored A.S. Varn and Son Oyster and Crab Factory. As president of the Pin Point Betterment Association, Hanif works with state and federal government agencies to preserve Gullah Geechee ancestral lands and buildings as historic sites for future generations. 

One of those historic sites Hanif is interested in protecting is what remains of Pin Point’s first Black-owned crab and oyster cannery, which was owned by Benjamin Bond—Hanif’s great-grandfather—and John Anderson. At the turn of the 20th century, the Bond-Anderson crab cannery employed many Pin Point residents, including Hanif’s grandmother, mother, and German immigrants. The Great Depression, in the early 1930s, severely impacted the entire community and the Bond-Anderson cannery succumbed to the economic crash, leaving the White-owned A.S. Varn and Son Factory as the only cannery on the island until the mid-1980s. Hanif recalls his matriarchal family’s contribution to the crab and oyster industry, including the women who occasionally harvested, “to keep the family going.” Hanif’s observations of declining crab populations, from overharvesting and environmental degradation, kindle his passion for protecting Pin Point and the Moon River from development, so the surrounding saltwater marsh can recover to provide for future generations as it has provided for past generations.  

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