Goat Cart Sam a.k.a. Porgy, an Icon of a Sanitized South

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Goat Cart Sam a.k.a. Porgy, an Icon of a Sanitized South

by Kendra Hamilton
Southern Cultures, Vol. 5, No. 3: Fall 1999

"Art, intellectual property, or both? The legacy of DuBose Heyward's most famous character."

I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where city planners with an toward those all-important tourists from Oshkosh and Vermont have repackaged the town’s fire-and-brimstone zeitgeist into a sanitized southern fried trifle that goes down sweeter than pralines on King Street. Today, tourists from Wal-Mart America cruise the streets, stuffing themselves on the Old Slave Market, Fort Sumter, and Rainbow Row till they’re too complacent to wonder where the jazz is, why the tour guides keep chatting about “servants,” or how many gentrification carrion birds the new tourist and convention center is going to send wheeling over the peninsula’s remaining black neighborhoods. Yes, I grew up in Charleston, and the city is much changed from the crumbling ruin known to DuBose Heyward, the white author of the novel that became the legendary Porgy and Bess, and to the man who would come to be called Porgy. I doubt either would recognize it-or-even, though for different reasons, much like it.