W. Ralph Eubanks is a local (Washington DC area) author; he spoke at the Chevy Chase Library's 40th Anniversary celebration [1] where we met last year. His book Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi's Dark Past is a well-told memoir of his childhood, his family, and his discoveries about the State Sovereignty Commission and its attempts to preserve segregation in Mississippi. A lovely passage concludes Chapter Two ("Car Wheels on a Gravel Driveway"):

Our farm was much more than a beautiful piece of land, though. In many ways, it was a world unto us. Distant from The Quarters, The Jungle, and The Bottom. All families structure a world around themselves, designed to keep unwanted influences out. And the outside world was shut out from us when we were on the farm. We were exposed to it only when we read the newspaper, went to town on a Saturday, or went shopping in Jackson or Hattiesburg. Then we saw the segregated bathrooms, water fountains, waiting rooms, the neighborhood dividing lines that could not be crossed, and the racially prescribed codes of behavior. Perhaps because we were exposed to the brazen ugliness of segregation occasionally rather than every day, it seemed the exception. The life we led on the farm was what was normal. Just as my grandfather had built a house at the end of a road to survive a world hostile to his interracial marriage, we spent our time on our farm to guard us from unwanted influences that would tell us we were inferior because we were black.

We were removed, deliberately, but we were not completely isolated. My parents, particularly my father, valued personal relationships with people from all walks of life. From the country sheriff to an illiterate couple whose taxes my father prepared year after year, anyone was welcome at our farm as long as they followed my father's code of treating his family with dignity. It was through watching my father's interactions with people, both on the farm and off, that I learned how to build relationships. In those relationships, people become inexorably tied to place. In my mind, the people in and around Mount Olive remain that way to this day.

(cf. InterracialIntimacies (24 Feb 2003), RacialRelationships (10 Jan 2004), AnHourBeforeDaylight (25 May 2004), InterracialCheckmate (20 Jul 2004), RaceAndLove (6 Aug 2004), Troublesome Words (9 Apr 2006), ForGreaterJustice (4 May 2006), ...)

TopicSociety - TopicLiterature - 2006-11-23

(correlates: TimeToRead, WalkThroughDarkness, Why He Runs, ...)