Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Introduction to Mound Bayou

There is nothing I love more than a road trip to a new place, with or without a mission.  Today, I had a mission.  This is my introduction to Mound Bayou, Mississippi, a place I have long found fascinating.  I met with the mayor, Kennedy Johnson, to explore our working with the community in a service learning project.  I first read about Mound Bayou while I was still in Texas, and ran across an article about the cooperative health care center founded there, based on something that was developed in South Africa under the apartheid years.  I'm not going to go into the powerfully moving history of this community here for two reasons.  I'll be doing a week-long series of posts about it in July, and don't want to "steal the thunder" from that, plus, I need to do quite a bit of research in order to do the story justice.  However, I just can't stop myself from sharing some of the day's experiences.
 Mound Bayou was founded by freed slaves in the late 1800s, and has always been about self-help and empowerment.  As I drove into town today and began to search for City Hall, I felt chills as I realized the significance of the history of this community.  When I sat with Mayor Johnson a few minutes later, I said I felt immersed in history.  He confirmed, "You are."  The building above was the bank of Mound Bayou.
Isaiah T. Montgomery home.  
Mr. Montgomery was one of the founders of Mound Bayou, and its first mayor.
Taborian Hospital.
The Taborian was significant in providing access to quality health care for African Americans during the years of segregation.  There is much more to the story, but, it has to be saved for when I can do it justice.
 The Knights and Daughters of Tabor fraternal organization initially began its work with burial insurance for African Americans, and expanded into health care to help fill another gap in services and resources.
 After I left my very enjoyable visit with Mayor Johnson, I stopped at Winstonville, just a mile up the road.

 Near Marks, many areas of the back creeks and rivers were overflowing their banks and flooding low-lying areas.  I saw houses with sandbags surrounding them, and closed roads.  It is hard to imagine how much water is out there.
And finally, just out of Batesville, I have noticed this abandoned school ever since my first trip to Clarksdale in 2004.  I made time to stop today, wondering, as always, the reasons people just walk off from a building.


Gigi said...

I am excited and looking forward to learning all about the history of this place!

Gigi said...

Hey, I made a comment on here the other day. I think blogger was having problems because it was not showing anyone's latest post and it didn't show a comment I made on Sarah's either. Anyway, I was saying that I am very interested in learning more about this in July!

Suzassippi said...

This is weird, because your comment WAS here the other day! Yes, you said you were waiting to hear more! Is The Man at it again? lol

I am really excited about Mound Bayou, and can't wait to get to work there.

Gigi said...

Oh, good, so I was not imagining things. :) I wouldn't put it past The Man, that's for sure. It sounds like a great project--would love to be involved if I didn't live so far away. :)

Suzassippi said...

I know Mound Bayou was not on your list for retirement communities, but I have the perfect plan for you and Rich. Curious yet?