Historic Savannah Foundation’s lecture series, “People, Places and Stories that Define Savannah,”  will feature lectures covering a wide range of speakers and topics. Each lecturer will give a presentation on a subject that falls within the realm of their expertise followed by a question-and-answer session.

Patt Gunn

SUSIE KING TAYLOR
and the making of Taylor Square

JUNE 20  | 6:00 PM

This event is FREE and open to the public, and will take place at Second African Baptist Church, located at 123 Houston Street. The lecture will begin at 6:00 pm.

Historic Savannah Foundation is delighted to host Patt Gunn as the speaker for the June installation of our Lecture Series, “The People, Stories and Places that define Savannah.” Ms. Gunn will present on “Susie King Taylor and the Making of Taylor Square” and will discuss her pivotal role in leading the effort to rename the square to honor and commemorate Susie King Taylor.

Susie King Taylor was an American nurse, teacher, barrier-breaking figure in Savannah’s history. Born into slavery in Liberty County, Georgia, by age seven Susie had moved to Savannah to live with her grandmother, where she attended two secret schools run by free women of color. During this time, Georgia had severe restrictions on education for freed and enslaved Black people, and secret schooling was the only way an African American child could get an education in the Antebellum South.

By the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, Taylor was an educated young woman. She escaped to Union-occupied St. Simons Island at age 14, and broke barriers as an educator where she openly taught Black children. Susie King Taylor’s accomplishments range from joining the Union Army to participating in military expeditions and camp life, nursing the soldiers, teaching soldiers, women and children in the camps, running her own private day and night schools, and becoming an author with the publication of her book Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops.

After 170 years, the Savannah City Council voted to change the name of the square formerly named after John C. Calhoun, a former U.S. vice president who was an advocate for slavery. The square itself was once a burial ground for hundreds of enslaved Black Savannahians.

For nearly one year, the square sat unnamed. The Center for Jubilee, led by Patt Gunn, petitioned to change the name from Calhoun Square to Taylor Square in late 2022. Savannah City Council voted on the name in October 2023. After a three-year fight, members of the Susie King Taylor Committee celebrated the official renaming on February 10, 2024. Hundreds gathered to make history in downtown Savannah as the square at Abercorn and Wayne streets was renamed Taylor Square. Gunn said she hopes that “this square should be a blueprint for future generations.”

Patt “Sistah Patt” Gilliard Gunn is a truth-teller and master storyteller, founder of the Savannah-based Susie King Taylor Center for Jubilee, and co-chair of the Coalition to Rename Calhoun Square. A Gullah Geechee “daughter of the soil” who is native to Savannah, her passion is sharing her history and culture with others. Gunn founded the Geechee Institute in 1992 to hold festivals, host lectures, and spearhead oral history projects for the community, and in 2017 founded Underground Tours of Savannah, sharing the history of her ancestors and leading tours focused on Savannah’s African American and Gullah Geechee history. Patt is also the Founder and Artistic Director of The Saltwata Players, a local folk art performance group. Her philosophy is simple: “The Sky Is Big Enuf’ For Unnah’Dem/All of Us!”

DON’T MISS OUR UPCOMING LECTURES!

Mark your calendar and we hope to see you there!

Attendees are invited to a wine reception at 5:30 p.m. to meet & mingle with HSF members and staff. The discussion will start at 6 p.m.

July 2024

LECTURE SERIES ON SUMMER BREAK

See you in August!

 

August 15 | 6:00 p.m.

Briana Paxton

The Revitalization of Waters Avenue

September 19 | 6:00 p.m.

Ellie Isaacs

HSF Director of Preservation & Historic Properties

Evolving the Revolving Fund

October 10 | 6:00 p.m.

Catherine Duffy

Revolutionary Savannah: The Story of the 19 Rev-War Cannons Recovered from the Savannah River