Life and Death in a Small Southern Town: Memories of Shubuta, Mississippi by Gayle Graham Yates

  • Book title: Life and Death in a Small Southern Town: Memories of Shubuta, Mississippi
  • Author: Gayle Graham Yates
  • ISBN10: 0807129372
  • ISBN13: 978-0807129371
  • Publisher: LSU Press (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • Subcategory: Americas
  • Size ePub: 1714 kb
  • Size PDF: 1384 kb
  • Rating: 4.4/5
  • Votes: 241
  • Pages:
Life and Death in a Small Southern Town: Memories of Shubuta, Mississippi

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Gayle Graham Yates's hometown sits on the banks of the Chickasawhay River, boasting the live oak, dogwood, and magnolia trees found throughout southern Mississippi. Like any place, Shubuta (population 650) is inhabited by good people and bad, by virtue and vice. Both a literary memoir and a cultural history, this book chronicles Yates's return to the town in which she first knew goodness and came to recognize immorality. Blending folklore and personal impressions with the words of Shubuta people telling their own stories, Yates offers a rich narrative of the town from its Choctaw prehistory through the tremendous economic, political, racial, and social changes that led to its present.
The author's pilgrimage leads us to the Hanging Bridge, where some black Shubutans were lynched; to a bank that did not fail during the Great Depression; and to the office of the doctor who tends broken hearts as well as broken arms. Yates takes us to Shubuta's most beautiful gardens and ugliest vacant lots, to all the stores in town, to the new post office, and to the town hall. In the process, we learn how Shubuta evolved from a racially stratified town to one in which the descendants of slaves are now political leaders, librarians, business owners, and police officials. Yates also tells of her own moral journey from judgmental young activist to middle-aged scholar mellowed by experience, travel, and reading who sees her home with newfound compassion. Ultimately, she shows us Small Town southern America: a strong, frail, fascinating, and complex human community.