TIME

Mississippi is my home. It is not just where I am from; it is where I live. To this day, even in the age of GPS, the directions to my house are: “Keep on going, keep on going. Weʼre the last house on that dirt road.” We have two light poles that keep away a night darkness that can only be illustrated by closing your eyes—itʼs darker than that. Outside my window are a triplet of sycamores blown into slingshots by Hurricane Katrina, pecan trees struck barren by word of my grandmotherʼs passing, and the roses, the irrepressible roses once singed by the burning of a cross of the Ku Klux Klan.

My grandfather allowed Freedom Riders to congregate at his church, and he paid for it like so many others in Mississippi with that cross burning, with his arrest in the middle of the night, and the bombing of…

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