Sunday, March 6, 2011

Progressive Politics, Southern Style

Welcome to Cotton Patch Politics. Like a classic southern sideboard, we'll offer a main course of politics with ample side dishes of southern culture. We'll focus on issues and policies that impact the future of our region- issues like poverty, education, health care, economic development, civil rights and more. A healthy sprinkling of humor will enliven the debate and make it all go down easier!

So, why the name?

Georgia's own Clarence Jordan, author of the Cotton Patch Series, translated not only the words of scripture, but also the context. If you are not familiar with his work, I urge you to read some of the series. You'll enjoy it. When it came to issues of social justice and equality, Jordan, a Baptist minister, farmer and founder of Koinonia Farms, was ahead of his time. Jordan believed that it was more important to live out his faith in community rather than join in the marches of the civil rights movement. Nevertheless, his commitment to equality was threatening to many, and at the height of racial tension in the South, Koinonia Farms was the target of  violence and an economic boycott. I admire Clarence Jordan for standing firm during a difficult time, and love his sense of humor.  Today, progressives in the South still face many of the same attitudes Jordan encountered. We share the challenge of  "translating" our message in a way that is meaningful to those in our region who continue to "vote against their own economic self-interest."

"Cotton Patch" also refers to the region, roughly defined as the "Cotton Belt," an area of southern states where cotton was the main cash crop for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's not a coincidence that the same region shares a history of slavery, sharecropping and is also identified as the Black Belt, referring the the rich black soil. Plagued by persistent poverty, the Southern Black belt faces enormous challenges in health care, education, housing and economic development. We'll be talking about all those issues here - the problems and the solutions.

More personally, "Cotton Patch" reminds me of my roots and in particular the stories both of my parents told about working in the cotton fields. It takes me back to that screen porch on the front of Granny Watson's house. On Sunday afternoons, with the church steeple in clear view,  my aunts, uncles and cousins would often gather. The cousins played, and the grownups talked - politics, church, family, whatever was on their minds. When the kids tired of running around in the yard, trying to crack black walnuts with rocks and climbing the tree we weren't supposed to be in,  I sat on that porch, too, listening, occasionally chiming in with an opinion or two. So, here, I invite you to do the same. I hope you'll pull up a chair, listen if you'd rather, but when it strikes your fancy, chime on in with an opinion or two!

6 comments:

Matthew Wilson said...

Woo hoo, Amy - congrats on the grand unveil! Looking fwd to the posts to come.

Amy Morton said...

Thanks, Matthew! If you would like to post, let me know. I'd love to have you!

A fighting Democrat said...

More about people voting against their self-interest... yawn. Next!

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