COTTON: Voices from the Fields
By Alysia Burton Steele and Bobby. D. Steele, Jr. with contributing writer Stan Alost
“My mother taught me to read in the fields,” she said. “She took a stick and drew letters in the dirt. That’s how I learned the alphabet. That’s how I learned to read. Now I have a Ph.D.” ― Sandra Fountain, Ph.D.
After the release of Delta Jewels, people wanted to know what I was working on next. I didn’t know. I was just trying to overcome my fear of public speaking. But people wanted to talk to me public appearances, and the thread of cotton ran through them.
It occurred to me, then, that a crop that has pulled people apart for generations might actually bring them together. No matter who I talked to—black or white, male or female—everyone had their own poignant story to share. Cotton was a common thread that stitched together the quilt of human experience.
COTTON will be a visually stunning and emotionally riveting collection of forty to fifty oral histories gathered from the Mississippi Delta and surrounding regions where cotton was king. It will give voice all who want to talk about their life experiences, for people whose stories don’t always make it into traditional history books.
Book is in progress. More details forthcoming.