Saturday Morning 30 September
Mississippi. Deep South, Dixie’s Heartland. We arrived yesterday. I don’t live here. I can observe, ask questions, take pictures, even write a blog, but no way I can claim to understand what lies deep within Dixie’s Heart.
Yesterday at breakfast, I chatted with MI Broh, who grew up in Texas. In the late 1950’s, before the Civil Rights Act was passed, he traveled by car with his family passing through Mississippi. The age of segregation. Restaurants, bathrooms, drinking fountains he visited were for whites only.
Yesterday we set up and served lunch beside a small church. One of the deacons arrived and he invited Martha and me inside to see the sanctuary. Simple wooden pews had pockets holding well worn versions of old King James Bibles. No hymnals. The deacon said everyone just sang along with the choir. The deacon was black and I asked him if the congregation was all black.
Yes, he replied, but people bring white visitors. Anyone is welcome to attend.
After supper, several of us attended the nearby high school football game. Two private schools were playing – Indianola Academy and Greenville. The game was much larger in scale than last week’s game at Shamrock. Larger crowds, more players on the roster, bigger linemen, louder music. People in the crowd cheered enthusiastically and I saw Tiger Tom chatting amiably with several of them.
Most of the football players were white. Over 90 percent of the crowd was white. Indianola is 80 percent black. Was there was another football game in town?
Wondering what barriers prevented others from attending Indianola Academy, I looked up the schools website. Annual tuition is $5485, plus an expected donation of one or two thousand to the annual fund. About 7K total. That’s about what it costs to do a Pactour transcontinental. We don’t have any black people in our group either.
While I was driving the lunch truck, most riders rode in pace lines, battling headwinds across the Mississippi delta. Flat roads crossed acres of cotton fields and rice fields. As the road approached the Mississippi, it circled the perimeter of an Oxbow Lake, formed many years ago when the Mississippi decided to cut itself a new channel.
Shortly after lunch, Tucson Bill took a spill, hitting a log in the road. We picked him up, took him to the ER, and I understand he is back at the motel this morning. At this time I don’t know the extent of his injury.