We don’t want to give y’all too much homework all this month, but we’re also committed to not exploring the same old same old with black Southern history. As you could imagine, this commitment often requires outside sources. This week, we’re actually encouraging you to leave our blog (who would’ve thought), open your podcast app of choice, and download the second-to-most recent episode of Gravy.
Michaela wrote a more comprehensive review of this podcast back in December, and we’ve lost no love for the show since then. Time and time again, I’ve seen depictions of the South fall short in appreciating our culture while also acknowledging the past and present nuances of each group under the Southern umbrella. Nearly every installment of Gravy meets this challenge, offering stories of “New South” residents that are easy-to-follow without being reductive.
When we first saw that Shirley Sherrod, the former Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA and lifelong agricultural activist, was being covered on the show, Michaela and I immediately freaked out. While Sherrod’s public experiences with systemic racism could be their own series of episodes, her legacy of organizing and advocating for black farmers in Georgia is something that should be discussed in this month and every other one.
Black farmers have been largely absent for decades from our historical discussions of the post-Antebellum South, which amazes me as someone who couldn’t imagine a South without them. When I think about the black Southerners around me who have been able to amass land, start small businesses, and create other forms of self-sufficiency, they all have roots in agriculture. While Gravy by no means covers all there is to say about these families, it’s an accurate and accessible entryway to one of the most inspirational communities in black Southern history.
Hopefully, this month will encourage all of us to seek out more information about the black Southerners who have built, defended, re-built, and re-defined this land we call home. We hope you’ll find time to listen, and tell us what you think below!