The Life of a Southerner (in Drawings): An Interview with Jesse Whitaker

Figures 1 and 2. People began to look back and say well, the modern day system now with middle schools and all that don't look like what we had then. So this got to be important and my esteem, the way I feel about myself, began to get great as I saw how people would pick up newspapers and see these old schools and I said, well I am going to start drawing these schools if they are getting to be important. All drawings reprinted with the permission of artist Jesse Whitaker.

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The Life of a Southerner (in Drawings): An Interview with Jesse Whitaker

by Gretchen Givens
Southern Cultures, Vol. 2, No. 1: Fall 1995

"At the age of 51, Jesse Whitaker began drawing pencil sketches of his memories of being a schoolboy in eastern North Carolina."

At the age of 51, Jesse Whitaker began drawing pencil sketches of his memories of being a schoolboy in eastern North Carolina. The collection of his sketches that follows and his accompanying thoughts about the events taking place during that time are vehicles through which southerners can understand his life and his sense of place within the history of the South. Whitaker understands the politics of growing up black in eastern North Carolina, and subtly expresses social norms in his depictions of Jim Crow North Carolina.