As one born and raised in Mississippi, I am deeply interested in its history. A part of that history too little known and too readily forgotten in our time is slavery. By chance, I came upon two books on that subject in the same day. One, "I Was Born a Slave" by Yuval Taylor, is a massive two-volume anthology of major slave narratives; e.g., those of Frederick Douglass and Nat Turner. The other, "Mississippi Slaves, Tell It Like It Was," is specifically about and by those from right here in our own state. I would like to recommend both to all of your readers.
The latter is a collection of brief, individual accounts based on question-and-answer style interviews. The editor's note and introduction explain the purpose of the volume and nature of the narratives. The purpose is said to be aiding the reader in understanding what it was like to be a slave right here in Mississippi. The narratives were the result of WPA journalists interviewing former slaves in 1937 and 1938. All of the interviewees were rather old and, thus, were very young when they were slaves—most children or teenagers at the Emancipation. Their realization and revelation of the harsh life of a slave is limited. Also, these are the reports of elderly, mostly illiterate blacks given to mostly educated whites in the 1930s. Admittedly, therefore, there is an "Uncle Tom" flavor to several, though not all. Plus, it is impossible to know what liberties the interviewers took, though the editor of the book affirms that he took none.
Learn more about the shameful history that got us where we are in our country. Go check out these books.
— Peter Haik, Jackson
Have Mores Get More
After the tragedy that was Katrina, George Bush assured us that "This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina." As of today over 200,000 people are still homeless and living in hotels at the taxpayers' expense. Barely 18,000 of 300,000 trailers and housing units allocated by Congress have been turned over to families in the three affected states. At least 20,000 children, many poor and "at risk," are still not in school in Louisiana. The Medicaid recipients have been scattered across the country and have not been able to get benefits made available to them, and all the while Congress is looking at even more ways to deepen the cuts in mandatory spending programs, which will hit them even harder. The $50 billion budget cuts proposed by conservatives in the House are aimed at cutting programs for students, families and the poor. Congress is now looking to expand even more of these cuts to these programs as a way to pay for Katrina.
The president has no plans to stop the $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation, and while FEMA has finally decided to re-bid $1.2 billion of the no-bid contracts awarded after Hurricane Katrina, they didn't do it before the well-connected profited.
The lessons to be learned from Katrina will be that the people most affected will bear the burden of paying for it themselves and the "haves and the have mores" will get "more."
— Brian Essex, Jackson