Front Porch: Summer 2018

© John M. Hall Photographs.

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Front Porch: Summer 2018

by Harry Watson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 24, No. 2: Summer 2018

“As virtually every southern writer demonstrates, home can be a wellspring for art, and for every writer that stayed there’s another long list of southerners who left home.”

President Booker T. Washington, the canny founder of Tuskegee Institute, became famous (or infamous, depending on the observer) for words he spoke at the opening of Atlanta’s Cotton States and International Exhibition in 1895. The only African American person on the program, Washington used the spotlight to ask black southerners to accept the social and political domination of southern whites in exchange for mutual economic progress. Sharing with his mixed-race audience the story of parched sailors who found fresh water from the Amazon in what seemed to be the salty Atlantic, Washington advised both races to “cast down your bucket where you are,” and to find their futures in the South.