Excerpt from the Covenant with Black America
America’s rural South is a reservoir of African and black American cultural roots and history. African influences passed on through centuries can be found in everyday rituals and routines, from preparing natural remedies and family recipes to more renowned “American” traditions, including community-based education, sustainable agriculture, folk art, regional cuisines, family reunions, fabric and fashion trends, the blues, gospel, spirituals, regional dialects, agricultural cooperatives, credit unions, sororities, fraternities, and the list goes on.
We must realize that our rural ancestors represent the strength of our race. It was in the rural South where movements for social and economic justice have their roots. Blacks who remained in the rural South stayed, fought, and experienced victories that influenced the rest of the country. Rural Black America has been the frontline of the fight against injustice and inequity. Leaders of social movements around the world continue to be influenced by what has happened in these rural communities.
For many Black Americans our “country within the country” is the rural South. It can be argued that the loss of land and rural life in general cuts deeply into the foundation of black American sustenance and identity, as did the loss of land-based institutions that emphasized cultural exploration and learning. There is a synergy that can and must be developed between rural black people and blacks in urban and suburban areas. Urban, suburban, and rural black Americans must work together to reclaim, strengthen, and sustain our rural roots; it is the basis of our history―good and bad―in this country.
-excerpt from Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald and Sarah Bobrow-Williams’ essay in the Covenant with Black America
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