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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Gee's Bend: 1937

Gee's Bend: 1937

February 1937. Gee's Bend, Alabama. Descendants of former slaves of the Pettway Plantation. They are still living under primitive conditions there. Meat in sacks hangs from tree limbs to be cured. Medium format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

 

Gee's Bend and Civil Rights

Here is a great article on Gee's Bend and the amazing quilts that come from there.

I have been thinking about this article since Shorpy.com published the picture of the Gee's Bend Ferry...

This paragraph contains one of the most chilling comments I have ever heard. I don't think I will ever forget it.

Many who marched or registered to vote in rural Alabama in the 1960s lost their jobs. Some even lost their homes. And the residents of Gee's Bend, 60 miles southwest of Montgomery, lost the ferry that connected them to Camden and a direct route to the outside world. "We didn't close the ferry because they were black," Sheriff Lummie Jenkins reportedly said at the time. "We closed it because they forgot they were black."

I am a newcomer to Shorpy, and I love the amazing photographs...but I am also glad that it provides a forum to remember both the good and bad of American history.

Gee's Bend

Gee's Bend was perceived by many of the academics of the day as a pure distillation of slavery. The New Deal saw them like the exotic, mysterious folk found in deepest Amazon or darkest Africa. The FSA project that was created there was entirely different from all the other 1930s projects because of these perceptions.

The Pettway Plantation was purchased in 1937 by the FSA and a full project was developed there including schools, store, blacksmith shop and cooperative cotton gin.

The photo shows the "swept yard" of the cabins and the China Berry tree where meat was stored as part of the curing process. Gee's Bend still exists as an African American community in Alabama.

Gee's Bend

Guess there wasn't too much to do after dark except....

 
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