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The Star Creek Papers

The Star Creek Papers

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    The Star Creek Papers
    Book Description:

    The Star Creek Papers is the never-before-published account of the complex realities of race relations in the rural South in the 1930s. When Horace and Julia Bond moved to Louisiana in 1934, they entered a world where the legacy of slavery was miscegenation, lingering paternalism, and deadly racism. The Bonds were a young, well-educated and idealistic African American couple working for the Rosenwald Fund, a trust established by a northern philanthropist to build schools in rural areas. They were part of the "Explorer Project" sent to investigate the progress of the school in the Star Creek district of Washington Parish. Their report, which decried the teachers' lack of experience, the poor quality of the coursework, and the students' chronic absenteeism, was based on their private journal, "The Star Creek Diary," a shrewdly observed, sharply etched, and affectionate portrait of a rural black community. Horace Bond was moved to write a second document, "Forty Acres and a Mule," a history of a black farming family, after Jerome Wilson was lynched in 1935. The Wilsons were thrifty landowners whom Bond knew and respected; he intended to turn their story into a book, but the chronicle remained unfinished at his death. These important primary documents were rediscovered by civil rights scholar Adam Fairclough, who edited them with Julia Bond's support.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4023-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD (pp. vii-x)
    Julian Bond

    Hanging on a wall of my study are a framed photograph and handmade certificate, both fifty-five years old. In the picture, three men in academic regalia stand behind two young children; the accompanying fading testimonial, neatly typed, announces to “ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS” the consecration of the children to “the high and noble estate of the scholar.”

    The children are my sister, Jane Marguerite, then three, and myself, aged two. The three men are W. E. B. Du Bois, E. Franklin Frazier, my father, Horace Mann Bond.

    It is arguable whether the long-ago blessing had any real effect on...

  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. [Maps] (pp. xiv-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION (pp. xvii-xxx)

    In 1934 Horace Mann Bond was in the early years of a distinguished career as a historian, educationist, and university president. Already, at age twenty-nine, a professor at Fisk University with an armful of publications, his expertise as an authority on black education took him to Washington Parish, a corner of southeastern Louisiana bordered by Mississippi on two sides. Under the auspices of the Rosenwald Fund, he and his wife, Julia Washington Bond, lived in a small farming community and studied the operation of the local black schools. Today they would be called “participant-observers”; in 1934 they were dubbed “explorers.”...

  7. Genealogical Charts (pp. xxxi-xxxiv)
  8. Portrait of Washington Parish (pp. 1-16)

    More than fourteen hundred Negroes have been lynched since 1904, the date of my birth. I remember the month of June, 1913, because of a recurrent nightmare that left me, night after night, screaming with a terrible fear. The nightmare faithfully reproduced, night after night, a cartoon which I had seen in a Negro magazine, The Crisis. In the drawing, and in the dream, several Negroes were depicted hanging from a tree, while “Lynch Law,” caricatured as a gorilla-like creature with bloody fangs, a rope in one hand and a torch in the other, approached to light a funeral pyre...

  9. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  10. Star Creek Diary (pp. 17-74)

    Mr. Travis is a white man, a renter who has a farm of sixty acres just beyond Mr. Ernest Magee’s place. While we were working on the house today, Mr. Travis showed up with four dogs, two hounds, a bird dog, and a poodle.

    Mr. Travis has deep set eyes, with an expression almost exactly like the saturnine countenance displayed in the older prints of Andrew Jackson. His hair was thick and brushy, uncut, with a streak or so of grey.

    He was talking to Mr. Monroe, whom he called Uncle Monroe,¹ about crops and syrup making. Syrup making is...

  11. The Lynching (pp. 75-84)

    On January 11, 1935, Horace Mann Bond learned that Jerome Wilson had been lynched. “He was found Friday morning at the crossroad going from Bethel to Franklinton,” wrote Ernest Magee, “dead lying in the ditch.” Bond, then in New Orleans, could not bear to tell his wife the news over the telephone. He sent her a letter—she was in Nashville visiting her family—and enclosed two newspaper clippings.¹

    Julia was shocked and fearful. “We cannot go back and live there,” she wrote back. “We are so unprotected. . . . That little community is at the mercy of whatever...

  12. Forty Acres and a Mule (pp. 85-130)

    Isom Wilson was just a shirt-tailed boy when they brought him to Washington Parish. The year must have been close to 1835, for Isom was a grown man when the surrender came in 1865. His father’s real name, if he had one, was Will Ward, because Ward was the name of the Virginia planter who started out from St. James County, Virginia, with Will, and Martha, and their child Isom.¹

    Will Ward, so Isom’s mother told him later, was a native African. Perhaps that was why he was so stubborn about leaving Virginia for Louisiana, when his master decided to...

  13. EPILOGUE (pp. 131-136)

    While John Wilson was in New Orleans, visiting his wife in Charity Hospital and talking with Horace Mann Bond at Dillard University, he left Alexzine, the eldest daughter, in charge of the younger children.¹

    The day soon came, however, when a white neighbor, Jim King—the man who had bought the old Wilson farm—told Alexzine that according to rumor a mob was planning to lynch the rest of the Wilson family. It would be best, he told her, if they left Washington Parish at once. A cousin hastened to New Orleans to warn John Wilson not to return.


  14. NOTES (pp. 137-150)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 151-154)
  16. INDEX (pp. 155-160)