Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hollandale, Part Nine:

“The Lower Mississippi Delta Region... is presently chained by the bonds of illiteracy, poverty, and prejudice.”
Dr. Jocelyn Elders, U.S. Surgeon General

“I was sitting outside the library my freshman year at Ole Miss,” said Michelle Johnson, a 2000 graduate of Simmons High School and a 2004 graduate of the University of Mississippi, “and I got to talking with this white girl. I asked her where she was from and she said the Delta. I said, ‘I’m from the Delta. Where are you from?’ She said, ‘Greenville.’ I said, ‘I’m from Greenville.’ She said, ‘Actually I’m from Hollandale, I just say Greenville because no one has ever heard of Hollandale.’ I said, ‘I’m from Hollandale and I say the same thing.’”

Two young women, the same age, from the same town of 3,400 people and they had never even seen each other before.

“We won the state championship (in basketball) in 2004,” said DC, a Mississippi Teacher Corps teacher in Hollandale from 2003-2005. “The town had a parade for them. We had all these kids marching down Main Street, and a lot of the black community members cheering them on. At the same time two white women were walking along the sidewalk as if nothing was happening. It was as if they were in another time, in another universe.”

Ms. C went on to say, “America is unique in that you have the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slave owners still living together. If you look at countries in Africa or in South America, at the end of the day, the colonizers went home. That didn’t happen here.”

“Teachers (including Ms. C) don’t live here,” said Mr. Sanders. “Our smartest people drive in from Greenville or Leland. And at three o’clock they’re gone.”

“What happens is the white boys come back from college and work on their daddy’s farm,” said Ms. Bibb. “The black kids that go to college, they’re never coming back. So you’re left with a group of wealthy, educated whites and a group of blacks that lose their smartest young people each year.”

“After integration the wealthier whites moved out to their farms,” said Mr. Sanders. “By moving out of the city limits they only paid county taxes.”

“Another problem is drugs,” says Ms. Bibb. “You’ve got some of the white kids doing crystal meth and cocaine and the black kids doing weed and crack."

“A lack of revenue is the biggest problem,” said Mr. Burford.

Mr. Sanders agreed with this, saying, “Economic development.”

“Teen pregnancy,” said Ms. Richmond. “That’s the biggest problem. And there is no place for children to go. No jobs. No nothing. Hollandale is a place where you wouldn’t want to settle. It’s no place to call home. There ain’t nothing here. Nothing...”

1 comment:

deltaman said...

Interesting perspective on small town life in the Delta....not surprised you fell for Hollandale, it is a good example of all that is and was good and bad.
I am trying to write about Ruleville and Cleveland from the perspective of a young boy. Afer 53 years, I can still remember what a "Norman Rockwell" life it seemed to be for me. I recoginize it was something less for others.
If you care to read some of my postings, I am www.deltaman-rearview.blogspot.com Thanks for writing your blog.