Now that I’m back home in the South for a few days, I thought I’d post this photo essay that I put together a couple of years ago when I moved to Buffalo. I’ll post a new entry each day until it’s done. Yall enjoy!
In a country as vast as the United States, it goes without saying that several distinct cultures will exist within our borders. And while each is unique in its own way, I believe there is one region of the US that is most distinctive and most unique: the South. Depending on whom you ask, the South is either the best or the worst place to live in America. And while there are indeed both good and bad things about Dixie, the virtues far outweigh the imperfections for those of us who call the South home.
Hollywood likes to portray Southerners as a bunch of Confederate Flag waving hillbillies. And yeah – yeah, those Southerners sure do exist, but the South also produces poets, entrepreneurs, and world leaders. Slavery, segregation, and racism have tarnished the South’s past, but at the same time, the South is the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., the iconic leader of the Civil Rights movement.
The South is known as America’s Bible Belt for a reason. In many small towns, the pastor’s words from the pulpit carry as much sway as anything released from the mayor’s office. Politically, the South is now a Republican stronghold, though at one time it used to be the Democrat’s saving grace. And not only does the South help shape politics on the national level, it often times leads. Five of the last eight presidents have hailed from the South.
King Cotton once ruled the Southland, and while the crop may not be as important today, the South’s is still a predominantly agricultural economy. There are still places where you can drive for hours and see only vast expanses of cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn, peaches, or tobacco.
The South is a domain where football is king, and the only question of where you’ll be going on a Fall Friday night is the home bleachers, or the visitors’ stand. Southern Hospitality is not a myth; sweet talkin’ and warm huggin’ is the greeting of choice around here. But you better watch out: some of those little old ladies’ tongues are as sharp as their smiles are wide.
Food and Family are the pillars of Southern culture, and what Mama says goes. The kitchen turns food into a Meal, which is something enjoyed by all sitting around the supper table. And yes, we have ‘supper’ every night and save ‘dinner’ for Sunday at noon. Down here in the South, the only things longer than our conversations on the porches are our accents.
While California and New York may now be the world famous destinations for rising stars, Blues, Soul, Rock & Roll – music as we know it – all began in the South. And though it may not be your cup of tea, all of today’s leading Hip-Hop and Rap artists sing and rap about their home: “the Dirty South.” Many of them got their breaks in Atlanta, host of the 1996 Olympics, the birthplace of Coca-Cola, home to the busiest airport in the world, and the Capital of the New South.
Life South of the Mason-Dixon Line may be slower and even a little more rural than up North or out West, but I don’t think we’d have it any other way.
Following is a series of photographs that I have taken. They are pictures either of things that I will miss about living in the South since I now live up here with the “damn Yankees,” or simply things that I feel embody different aspects of life in the South. More simply put: they are pictures of Home.
The South: A Photo Essay by W. J. Newsome is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.