In the years before the Civil War, white society in the South was divided between the wealthy, and the poor white farmers. This poor population had little more than the land that they work. They are largely the lost people of the South in American history. This was my history, my ancestors!
The wealthy lived in a world of opulent mansions and mint juleps. Most white southerners were not wealthy enough to own slaves. They raised their own food and made their own clothes, often eating less and working harder than slaves. Poor white farmers scratched out a living in the less fertile backcountry and mountain valleys.
The history of the American South cannot escape the specter of slavery, white supremacy, and severe class divisions. Poor and working-class whites have usually been left out of our country’s story because in many ways acknowledging their existence is a denial of the American dream, a festering wound in the heart of America.
I am from the Deep South. I was brought up in a split non-racist / racist family. I was taught history written by superior white people. I lived in poverty as a child and teenager; the South was a very complex place. I was an adult before my parents were able to reach the status of middle-class. I was drawn to history, American History that includes the South, I read, I learned and in my split upbringing I made my own decisions and theory of what was right and wrong.
All lives matter.