Last month’s deadly shootings at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church have led many Americans to reconsider racial relations and their own complicated views on the subject.
Even before the Confederate battle flag finally came down over the South Carolina state capitol, a rash of fires broke out at predominantly black churches across the South.
Those events prompted “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to read “Delta Jewels,” a book published in April by photojournalist Alysia Burton Steele.
The book is a series of portraits and interviews of 54 female church elders in the Mississippi Delta. Steele, a professor at the University of Mississippi and a former photographer at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was inspired to do the book in the memory of her late grandmother.
Steele, who is biracial, told Reitzes she never took photos of her paternal grandmother, an African-American woman from South Carolina who died 20 years ago, and it’s something she still regrets.
“This book was an exploration of my grandmother’s contemporaries,” Steele said. “I thought that maybe I can understand more about her time if I can talk to women of her generation.”
So Steele traveled more than 6,000 miles, taking pictures and collecting the oral histories of women she know refers to as her “54 grandmothers.”
Source: WABE | WENDY PARKER