The package Linda left for me was pretty impressive. The target town was Three Notch Alabama near Union Springs located in the Plantation Country (also known as the Black Belt region for its rich soil) part of the state in Bullock County. According to the map, the major cities in close proximity were Montgomery, (the capital) Tuskegee, (the next county north of Union Springs) and Selma, to the west in Dallas county.
Being an avid reader, I knew a considerate amount about the south because I knew my history. Although I’ve never stepped foot in ‘Plantation Country’ or any other part of the south – I knew who I came from – where my people came from after surviving the middle passage to this country. I sometimes think that the reasons I’ve avoided going south is due to how I feel about the jacked up history that comes up whenever you’re talking to a conscious person about the American South. Some people just don’t get it, some people don’t want to get it, so for me, I try to refrain from discussing such a complex, emotional, important subject with the wrong people – with the people who just don’t seem to get it. I’ve watched all of the Martin Luther King movies and documentaries on television, I’ve read every ‘Black Power’ book I could get my hands on and I make it a point to support Black films at the box office. I proudly refuse to work on Martin Luther King Day by asking months in advance for that day off if the company I’m working for at the time is open on ‘King Day.’ I feel it is my duty as a black woman (I prefer black over African American) to learn as much as I can about where and whom I come from, and, where I’m going.
That awareness never included, in my mind anyway, going south. The more I reviewed the package, the more excited I became about going. What’s funny to me is, when I meet and talk to people for the first time at work, at a club or some other type of social gathering, over half of them ask, “what part of the south are you from Thomasina?” I always reply the same, “Detroit.” People tell me I have a southern twang and I insist that I don’t know where I picked it up from and we all laugh and the conversation naturally shifts with everybody happy. But now, now, I was warming to the idea of going south. When I think about it, I’m surprised that my mom and Bud never took me – both of them are from Alabama, I’m not sure where because they never really talk about it – I don’t remember them ever going down there for anything like a wedding, a funeral, a family reunion – nothing. I wonder how they’ll react to the news about my work assignment in Alabama – hmm mm, I wonder. They talk about it sometimes but it’s always real casual, like the cousins they grew up with or how they hated outside plumbing and the little school houses they attended. I know one thing, they won’t be much help in supplying me with information of people to get in touch with because they’re so outta touch. I don’t remember them talking to anyone on the phone that lived south, but, oh yeah, but, Bud does talk to some old lady who lives in Akron, Ohio, somebody he’s been knowing a long time, a friend, I think a childhood friend from down south somewhere – I can’t think of the name but I know he talks to her at least a couple of times a year – at least. Alright, Alright. I’m going to try to find out Bud’s friends name when I let them know about my trip to Plantation Country.
To be continued on Sunday 1.31.2016