Guy Emerson Mount writes:
“After a week in Lawrence County, Mississippi, however, I might be closer to that beginning. I might be ready to confront death. Why Lawrence County? It’s where the University of Chicago began. Ever since my colleagues and I at the Reparations at UChicago Working Grouppublished our findings on the university’s ties to slavery we knew we had to see the plantation and the community that started it all. Our mission was simple: meet with the community and see if we could facilitate a future dialog of healing and reconciliation between the university and the descendants of enslaved people in Lawrence County.
“History is thick and heavy in Mississippi. I thought I knew this yet, unsurprisingly, the amazing Black women who led our way knew better. Sherry Williams, Nettie Nesbary, Lettie Sabbs, and Anita Boyd all live on the South Side of Chicago, but their spirits abide in Mississippi. As genealogists and preservationists, they are at home in Southern cemeteries communing with the ancestors. Court records, census rolls, and tombstones all seem to bend to their every command. “We can find a flea on the back of a dog’s a**,” they assure me. After a week with them, I believe it. As a historian, I usually end up fighting with the archives. While I struggle to read the silences these ladies know the silences, yet their certitude never lapses into naiveté. Their skepticism shouts when it should but vanishes when it must. And most of all, they simply love Black people.
“A group of young Black men followed their female elders down South. For myself, Dr. Obari Cartman, his brother Ayinde Cartman, and my co-author at the Reparations at UChicago Working Group, Caine Jordan, this was our first time in Mississippi. Obari and Ayinde brought drums. They also brought a profound expertise in Afro-centric psychology, reparative justice, and Pan-African activism. Caine brought his usual thoughtfulness as a Black socialist. Then he ate two lunches back-to-back. Let the dozens commence…”
Read the rest: