Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hanging on to roots in the rural South . . . years after the "Great Migration"

This little feature in the New York section of today's New York Times is well worth a read. Robbie Brown of the Times writes of Amya CaJoie Stewart, a 10-year-old New Yorker who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but who each summer visits her relatives in Silver Creek, Mississippi, population 209. Silver Creek is in Lawrence County, in the south central part of the state, with a population of 13,258.

But Amya isn't alone. According to Brown, she represents a trend:

Every year, thousands of African-American children like Amya, from New York, Chicago and other urban outposts, spend a week, a month, even a full season below the Mason-Dixon Line, where so many families trace their roots.

* * *
These journeys — part vacation, part coming-of-age rite, part sociological experiment — connect the descendants of the Great Migration with relatives who are familiar, even if their lifestyles are foreign.
* * *
Recreation usually means a water fight, a picnic by the Pearl River or a 30-mile drive to a movie in the nearest city, Brookhaven.
Brown's aim appears to be presenting a sharp and interesting contrast between rural and urban, and if that's her goal, she achieves it in spades. Read the rest of the story, "A World Away, Close to Family" here.

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