Emily “Mrs. Emily” Meggett, also known as the Matriarch of Edisto Island, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award today. The award honors her decades of cooking meals in her home and to offer hospitality to the island community of Gullah-Geechee.
“That’s what makes Mrs. Meggett special – this culture was known by her food, then her speech, and she became an expert on food,” Congressman James E. Clyburn said at the inauguration ceremony. prize giving on Friday. “She’s become the network to make sure everyone enjoys food.”
Congressman Clyburn and Lowcountry Rice Culture Project (LRCP) Executive Director Dr. Kim Cliett Long presented the award to Meggett on Friday at Broad Street Town Hall.
Mayor John Tecklenburg declared July 22 “Emily Meggett Day” on behalf of the city of Charleston.
“From an early age, Ms. Emily knew to always prepare more than enough, because you never know who might show up,” Mayor Tecklenburg said.
“In her twenties, Emily went to work at Dodge’s Plantation and cooked under the supervision of one of Edisto Island’s most sought after cooks, Miss Julia Brown,” he said. “Over the next 50 years, Emily shared her love for cooking and her passion for feeding people in her community and beyond.”
Jonathan Green, LRCP founder and international visual artist, presented Meggett and Clyburn with commemorative talking sticks to honor their Indigenous heritage and excellence in leadership.
“’I recognize no rights, but human rights; I don’t know anything about men’s rights and women’s rights,” Green said in her presentation, quoting abolitionist Angelina Grimké.
The LRCP, which nominated Meggett for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, began in 2010 as a way to raise awareness of the region’s rice-based economic history and promote conversations about culture.
Meggett ended the ceremony with, “I say to you: Humble yourselves. Listen, children. Always treat others with respect and be willing to give without expecting anything in return.
Meggett’s cookbook Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island published on April 26 chronicling not only 123 of her recipes, but also her life – which is synonymous with Gullah heritage here in the Lowcountry.
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