Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Mississippi Delta 24: Panther Burn

Panther Burn is an unincorporated community in northwestern Sharkey County, Mississippi. What a fascinating name! The blog Ophelia Explains it All has a detailed comment from an anonymous writer about the unusual name. It was related to burning the brush to prepare the land for cotton agriculture. Panther Burn is a bit out of the way, but my family and I had been birding in Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge and were heading south on US 61 when we decided to stop and look around.
We saw a group on the porch of an old cold-storage building. They were students from Illinois and Wisconsin with their mothers' ashes. Their mothers had been part of the great diaspora in the 1950s, when thousands of African Americans fled Mississippi to escape poverty, brutality, and the seething racial hatred that dominated the social conditions at the time. The midwife's house had formerly been in the lot next to the warehouse, and the students wanted to spread the ashes where their mothers had been born. We were honored to be able to share this time with these visitors from Illinois and Wisconsin. I sent them digital files of these photographs.
There is not too much to see in Panther Burn, just some old sheds, farm houses, and mobile homes.

Photographs taken with a Mamiya C220 twin-lens camera with the Mamiya 55mm lens. Film was Kodak Tri-X professional, the older ISO 320 emulsion, developed in XTOL developer. The lens had haze and flared, accounting for the loss in contrast.

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