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The Tougaloo Series Part 1: “From Slaves to Scholars”

I was recently asked in an interview why I believe the Catfish Alley story is mine to tell. I suppose that question could be expected when one is white and writing from the point of view of black characters. My response may seem simple: I believe a writer always puts herself or himself into the […]

Happy Birthday Tennessee Williams!

Tennessee Williams, one of America’s greatest playwrights, was born Thomas Lanier Williams III, on March 26, 2011, in my hometown of Columbus, Mississippi.  Tennessee lived in Columbus until he was seven years old, at which time his father, who was a traveling salesman, moved the family to St. Louis. During his years in Columbus, the […]

A Southern Treasure: Catfish Alley, the Place

My novel, Catfish Alley, gets its name from a street, located at 4th Street South, and running between Main Street and College Street in Columbus, Mississippi. The real Catfish Alley was a gathering place for African Americans from the late nineteenth century through my growing up years in the sixties and seventies. As you can see […]

Musings on Mississippi History

The two decades from 1920 to 1939 are fascinating times in Mississippi’s history. Out of the great paradox of events simultaneously swirling through these years– the jazz age, prohibition, the great Depression, the Great Migration of 2 million blacks from the South to other areas of the United States (1910 to 1930), the great Mississippi flood of 1927, arose an amazing number of writers, activists, and entertainers.

Crawdad Holes, a Louisiana Plantation, and Crawfish Etouffee

Whether you call them crawdads, crawfish, or mudbugs, if you’re from Mississippi or Louisiana, chances are you’ve seen them, caught them, or eaten them. My most recent encounter with crawfish was this spring, while traveling in south Louisiana, along the Great River Road. We visited the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana (   The huge live oaks, […]