Ain’t You Got a Right to the Tree of Life?
The People of Johns Island South Carolina—Their Faces, Their Words, and Their Songs

Guy Carawan and Candie Carawan
Preface by Charles Joyner
Afterword by Bernice Johnson Reagon
Photographs by Robert Yellin

Revised Edition

A moving portrait of sea island life


"A detailed record of a way of life that is falling victim to the ravages of time."
Library Journal

"The authors have richly captured not only the traditional warmth, folk wisdom, and spirit of the Johns Islanders, but also the courage with which they prepare to meet the future."
New York Times Book Review

"There is no part of the United States where black people developed or preserved a richer or more authentic cultural life. . . . This is still a wonderful book that conveys some of the joy and solemnity of the old sea island life. . . . That way of life is now giving over to the well-intentioned arts of progress, but as long as their faith endures, they will still be a people."
Chronicles of Culture

"The book lets the islanders speak for themselves about their culture, where they have been and where thay are going. And it is elegant. . . . It is a must read for serious students of southern history, culture, and social change."
Knoxville News-Sentinel

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Ain't You Got a Right to the Tree of Life? presents an oral, musical, and photographic record of the venerable Gullah culture in modern times. With roots stretching back to their slave forebears, the Johns Islanders and their folk traditions are a vital link between black Americans and their African and Caribbean ancestors.

When first published in 1966, this book conveyed islanders' trepidation and jubilation upon the arrival of the civil rights movement to their isolated home. In this edition, which is updated through the late 1980s, the stories and songs of an older day blend with the voices of an empowered younger generation determined to fight the overdevelopment of their land by resort builders.

Page count: 264 pp.
Trim size: 8.5 x 11


List price: $33.95

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Guy and Candie Carawan are educators, writers, musicians, and collectors who are dedicated to preserving the culture of the South and fighting for the civil rights of its common people. Based at the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee, for more than thirty years, the Carawans have served as consultants to the public television productions of "Eyes on the Prize" and "History of the Song 'We Shall Overcome.'" Their books include Ain't You Got a Right to the Tree of Life?, Voices from the Mountains (both Georgia), We Shall Overcome, and Freedom Is a Constant Struggle.