This essay reflects nature’s importance in coping with the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic shutdown and public health crisis inspired many people to reconnect with the natural world, which is also in turmoil because of climate change. The essay explores the circles of life and death through a bountiful mulberry tree that grows in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina, near the grave of Leon Jeffers.
In the late 1890s, self-taught photographer Hugh Mangum (1877–1922) began riding the rails as an itinerant portraitist, traveling primarily in North Carolina and Virginia. Mangum worked during the rise of the segregationist laws of the Jim Crow era. Despite this, his portraits reveal a clientele that was both racially and economically diverse, and show lives marked by notable affluence and hard work, all imbued with a strong sense of individuality and self-creation.
In 2017, the Center for the Study of the American South hosted Philip Freelon & Pierce Freelon in conversation for the Charleston Lecture in Southern Affairs. We were grateful to have witnessed Philip Freelon's generosity and deep humanity as he and his son discussed creativity, community, and the artistry of architecture (among other topics) in front of an audience of friends and admirers.