For the last two days, with the city of Clarksdale as my home base, I've wandered out to the towns of Marks, Sumner and Rosedale to photograph, and to other towns much smaller than those, such as Sherard, Belen, and Hushpuckena.
In Marks, a town whose level of poverty inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to push for another march on Washington (which became the Poor People's March in 1968), I made an 8x10 portrait of Evelyn Jossell, the superintendent of schools in Quitman County. Evelyn has been active in bringing AP (advanced placement) coursework to the high schools there, raising the ceiling and prospect of future possibility for the students there. I also used the 8x10 for a portrait of some of the mentors working with young students at one of the schools. There may have been a light leak on the negative of my portrait of Evelyn; I sure hope it comes out. If not, I'll try again next time. Read Evelyn's article on AP coursework as a force for civil rights in Mississippi here.
I also had the opportunity to spend an evening with the photographers Maude Schuyler Clay and Langdon Clay, at their home in Sumner, MS. Maude is the cousin of William Eggleston, and the two of them, have spent decades making a visual record of life in Mississippi, especially in and around Tallahatchie County. Sitting in this home filled with art and listening to stories and lore and gossip and thoughts about Maude and William's family and of photographing the places and people Mississippi delta was an unforgettable experience for me. Langdon shared with me some of his large format prints, especially an amazing panoramic series of photos taken of the length of the block of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, made on 22 8x10 negatives in 1979. And Maude also showed me some of her prints that she is working with for her next book, and number of beautiful folk art paintings made by her mother.
On the 4th, I wandered south on Route 1, and was especially taken by the beautiful old Episcopal church there, as well as some other unique sites.
Today I'm heading just a little further south and staying the night in Leland. I will photograph around the towns in that sector of the delta for the next two days, before returning to Memphis tomorrow night.
Here are just a few digital captures from the last two days on the road.