Last night I spent a memorable evening listening to photographer and author Alysia Burton Steele, who traveled 6,000 miles throughout the Mississippi Delta to interview 54 African-American women who grew up, married, and raised children during the Jim Crow era. Her Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom shares their stories.
One of the grandmothers is Mrs. Velma T. Moore of Benoit. Married for 49 years when widowed, 15 children, 145 grandchildren, 33 great-grands, 26 great-great grands, and 14 great-great-great grands. Her testimony: “I always said, “Lord, I want one husband. I want all of my childen to be by that one man.’ And God fixed it so . . . I’m still Mrs. Moore. I be Mrs. Moore until I’m dead and gone.”
We were reminded of the adage, “When an elderly person dies, a library burns to the ground.” We are indebted to those who, like Ms. Steele, keep treasured stories alive for coming generations.
If RTS students would like to read some of the stories, Delta Jewels is on the table in my office. Stop by and enjoy.
The event was sponsored by The COFO Civil Rights Education Center, Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center, and Delta Center for Culture and Learning.