The Deep End of the Deep South: The Help
I know a Good Story / May 25, 2017

  I was 25 when I married and moved from the plains to Mississippi. It was like diving in the deep end of Southern Culture.  I traded wide, far, horizons for close, verdant landscapes; dry heat for humidity; corn for okra.  I also fell headlong, into beliefs and traditions that weren’t my own. For example, one of my first neighbors was a kind old lady, who continually delighted and frustrated me. She insisted on calling me Mrs. Golden but demanded I only use her first name. And, even though she knew more about the place where we lived, she deferred to me in every question. Now I had been raised to recognize the authority of older, more-experienced, ladies, especially when using their names, but my neighbor’s education was different.  She had been taught skin color establishes who is in charge I was fair while she was dark.  Because we’d been taught differently, my neighbor and I spent most of our afternoons trying to outdo each other in courtesy. It’s sad but our mutual efforts to show each other respect became one more wall that kept us apart. My memories of those sweltering afternoons of frustration all came flooding back when I…

Where Memory Resides With History
I know a Good Story / July 12, 2016

Thanks for the Memories A friend from college visited me earlier this summer. She’s a great gal and it’s always terrific to see her but before she arrived, I wondered where I should take her during our visit. We have the usual amenities within easy driving distance but why bring her to some spot like another near her home?  In the end, we went to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a museum and memorial to the Civil Rights Struggle in Birmingham, Alabama. It was the right thing to do. Birmingham’s history with the Movement may not be what the city wants to be known for but it’s our calling card in the pages of history. Hiding from the past never helps. Because of Birmingham’s infamous role in that struggle, explaining positive aspects of this place to the casual outsider can be difficult.  (Well, some of my Caucasian friends have admitted this is hard; I haven’t got the nerve or bad manners to find out if my African-American friends here face the same issues.)  In the face of bombed churches and fire-hoses, how can anyone describe warm-hearted people and neighborhoods without sounding like a fool or a racist?  How can the domestic…

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