Growing Up Black In Rural Mississippi

1201 words - 5 pages

Growing Up Black in Rural Mississippi by Chalmers Archer Jr. Growing Up Black in Rural Mississippi, Memories of a Family, Heritage of a Place was written by Chalmers Archer Jr. It was first published in 1992 by the Walker Publishing Company. Printed in 1992, Copyright 1992 by Chalmers Archer Jr. In this book, Chalmers Archer writes about his memories and those of his extended family. The Archer family truly experienced the rural south. They relay the unwritten history of rural Mississippi life in the 30's and 40's. It draws on Black experiences throughout 1955 as well as significant historical happenings and how they affected the Archers' everyday life. It is a biography and a family history and it communicates the heritage created by the Archer family in the rural south. Most of the stories were unwritten lore and eyewitness accounts by family members that for the first time have been recorded in writing."The Place" is introduced as a hilltop of 400 acres that the Archer family rented from a wealthy white landowner. It was in Tchula Mississippi and was where Chalmers was born and spent the first 10 or so years of his life. He recollects on the landscape, the weather, crop fields, and the areas in which his many aunts and uncles lived on the property.He goes on to talk about moving to Lexington and rebuilding their plantation from scratch after his father was disgusted with his landlord's policies regarding rent. He discusses his many in depth conversations with his father and recalls how much he learned about himself and his heritage by being close to his father.He mentions his uncle Nick and the fact that he was the only one on the plantation with a motorized vehicle. He tells stories that were passed on to him by his Uncle Nick and Mama Lucy (his Grandmother) about the Ku Klux Klan and the old days in the post slavery era. Education is discussed as well as social gatherings. The local church played host to these events. Chalmers discusses his education and how it is put on hold several times due to necessary work that needed to be done on the plantation and that they did not have teachers available to teach anything other than elementary school level. The stories of birth and death were very interesting, disease carrying insects, discriminating doctors, and at home childbirths. He remembers some of the important people in his life, their passing and the lessons they instilled in him. White extremists and the KKK were discussed in detail in Chapter 11. He gave eyewitness accounts to several beatings and acts of racism. It was extremely difficult to imagine what Blacks actually had to go through in that time. Their land was being swindled away from them with the help of white politicians and local officials. The racism even trickled down to the young members of the community resulting in local gangs that harassed young blacks. At the age of 16, Chalmers was sent to live with...

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