Danielle Purifoy is a lawyer and postdoctoral fellow at UNC Chapel Hill. She studies how structural racism creates environmental inequality in the South and brings these interests to her work at Scalawag.
Princeville, NC only makes major headlines after catastrophic flooding. Here’s what we should really know about the first black municipality in the United States, and why we should fight to save it and other black towns across the country.
The Black residents of Lowndes County—over 70% of the population—are (still) beholden to the priorities and interests of White landowners, who now control their futures from faraway cities, rather than from plantation estates next door.
The Black towns didn’t have the infrastructure. I think White Hall should’ve had the infrastructure more than 30 years ago by virtue of where it was located. And it could’ve thrived with that infrastructure in place.
Black folk of a certain age, with left-of political leanings, respond in specific ways to mention of Lowndes County, Alabama. There’s the slow knowing nod, the lean-forward, the sudden exclamation, as though I’d brought an old friend into the room.
Whether or not they still live in those places, their relationship to them is stubborn, tender. They rely on these places not only because they hold life memories, but also because they carry ideas of who they are, and whence they came.
Our collective freedom is bound up with the eradication of racial hierarchy, which from its inception has placed Blackness at the very bottom, and has been utilized for the collective exploitation of workers and poor folk of all races. I believe that when all Black lives flourish, all lives will flourish.