GROWING UP BLACK IN RURAL MISSISSIPPI by Jr. Archer

GROWING UP BLACK IN RURAL MISSISSIPPI

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A debut memoir that explores a little-known pocket of Americana: the experience of rural blacks in the Deep South during the Great Depression. For Archer, a professor (Student Development/Northern Virginia Community College) and newspaper columnist, childhood was composed of two worlds that tried never to meet. The inner world was the black family--and its extension, the local black community--where life was ``wrapped in a mystical haze'' of comfort and joy. In this cozy, ramshackle cosmos shone such eccentric stars as Uncle Perry, the kindly Baptist minister; Uncle Nick, an enterprising smith, potter, cook, and carpenter; and Mama Jane, an aunt who tended to judge people by the lightness of their skin. Working with the Mississippi soil, folk remedies, ingenious foods (there's a recipe here for walnut-cider rice), and the spiritual cement of the local church, blacks built a bulwark against the outer world: the ever- threatening presence of Klan lynchings, Jim Crow laws, police brutality, grinding poverty, inadequate medical care, indifferent education. Chalmers comes of age in the inner world, acquiring there the values that sustain him in adulthood; concurrently, a second education takes place, as he grows aware of the outer world, sometimes in scenes of shocking violence, and of the ways in which black self-sufficiency can chain the dogs of racism. Built of plain, poignant anecdotes, this lacks dazzle but shines with tenderness, and succeeds admirably in the author's intention ``to fill a gap in black history.'' (Twenty-five b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8027-1175-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1991




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