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Vol. 29, No. 2: Black Geographies cover: Claire Alexandre

Black Geographies

Vol. 29, No. 2  //  summer 2023

In the Black Geographies issue, authors roller skate to claim space and joy, examine the role of the King James Version of the Bible in Black placemaking and meaning-making, mine the pages of literary geographer Gloria Naylor, and more. As guest editor Danielle Purifoy writes, “Black geographies urges us to reflect on, retrieve, and rebuild our relationships to our ecosystems and to each other that are integral to our thriving.”

Table of Contents

Getting Free, Spatially

by Danielle Purifoy
Ethel Westbrook Guinn Williams moved north twice in her lifetime—once from around West Point, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the second time from Memphis to Detroit. She had two husbands, eleven children she raised mostly by herself in a little house she owned in Memphis, and a third-grade education, which she remixed with her own »

Gloria Naylor

Literary Geographer of the Black South

by Sasha Ann Panaram
I am hopelessly bad at geography. I can hardly tell north from south and latitude from longitude, let alone try to name cities, states, and countries on a map. Nevertheless, the course I love teaching is “Treasure(d) Maps: Writing the American South,” designed in 2018 when the English Department at Duke University invited me to »

“Kick, Push”

Skating for Space and Joy

by Suzanne Nimoh
I was a tween when I first heard Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push,” a song that describes the liberatory feeling soaring on skates provides. That song introduced me to the culture of Black street skating. During the summer of 2006, I took my hand-me-down pink-and-purple Barbie rollerblades and journeyed from my backyard to the neighboring cul-de-sac »

Lost in Translation

Reverted Black Panamanian Sporting Networks

by Javier D. Wallace
“We would play tennis even after they turned off the lights on the courts,” my father told me, as he reflected on his days in the Panama Canal Zone (PCZ). Tennis became their sport; my father, his sister, and his brother perfected their craft and became so good that they and other neighborhood youth all »

We Are Virginians

by Barbara Phillips
A farm on Peak’s Knob in Appalachian Virginia has shaped for generations the descendants of my great-great-grandfather Thomas Russell. Born enslaved in 1834, he purchased fifty acres only fourteen years after freedom. Over the years, members of my family grew Russell Farm to the two hundred acres presided over by James Arthur Russell, Thomas’s grandson »

Let’s Build Our Own House

Political Art and the Making of Black and Muslim Worlds

by Darien Alexander Williams
“Political artwork produced by the Nation of Islam routinely invited readers to develop political and spiritual desires and expectations contingent on transformed relationships to an African homeland and life in the South versus the North.” Black people living in the Post-Reconstruction South endured some of the most concerted and refined white supremacist political violence in »
credit: Dafri Studios

Be Ye Transformed

The King James Bible as Black Placemaking in the Rural South

by Priscilla McCutcheon, LaToya Eaves
On a hot Sunday in August 1990, LaToya stood inside an underground baptismal pool, surrounded on three sides by a canopy of North Carolina pine trees, the wooden-floored church building, and the community of parishioners that made up the churchgoers and leadership. At the rural church located just outside the one-stoplight town of Waco, North »

Reimagining Riddick Town

Healing, Restoration, and Honor

by Quay Weston, "Aunt Lydia" Whitley
In October 1944, our ancestors Noah and Annie Riddick purchased roughly forty acres of land in Pantego, North Carolina. That land was both a homestead for sharecropping and, more important, a refuge for a southern Black family living at the height of Jim Crow. The land provided safety and sustenance for Noah and Annie’s eight »

Back Porch: Black Geographies

by Regina N. Bradley
“The southern Black imagination reforms, revises, and reclaims spaces where Black people are present but unwelcome, underserved, or unseen.” Rapper Pastor Troy gave me my first for-real lesson in southern Black geography back in 1999. I’d been living in Albany, Georgia, for about a year when Troy forcefully and confidently declared “ain’t no mo play in »

Natal Mythos (Atlanta 1993)

by Ra Malika Imhotep
I. Grandma Sarah holds mein a reservoir of unshed tears.bring her lips to my foreheadsuck something out.set meflowing,gasping. II. Mildred Thompson heckles my father,he finds his seat, and I leapfrom his skull, full-lotus, sucklingHigh John de conqueror root,a butterfly dancingup my spine. III. My mama leans back, legs akimbo,Paulette dances obeah, Fía peersinto the beyond,Able Mable »
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