What is Southbound?
At first pass, the word “southbound” communicates movement in a direction, pointing toward the part of America where I’ve lived my whole life. The South is a beautiful and broken place where the way we remember the past takes center stage. Cultural richness and deep tragedy live as neighbors, sometimes with high fences separating them and at other times crammed into the same shotgun house. And, those outside the South often misunderstand or oversimplify it, labeling its people in ways that deny their humanity.
So in another sense, I feel compelled—you might say bound—to explore stories of the South, many of which I never learned despite being a 10th-generation Southerner. This involves wrestling with nuance, parsing out what’s true, and considering the implications today. Sometimes that looks like a visual retelling of stories I learn from visits around the South, like the overlooked final battle of the Civil War in Columbus or the time Georgia’s governor persecuted Christian missionaries to the Cherokee because they stood in the way of land he wanted. Other times it looks like my quest to unravel an unsolved lynching in my North Georgia hometown, while others involve reflections on current political events, like when President Trump visited my hometown two days before January 6, 2021.
Until we grapple with the full picture of our shared history and how it affects us now, the trajectory of the South, perhaps even the country, will remain limited—or bounded. My hope is that Southbound can help unbind that trajectory.
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I was born and raised in the Northwest Georgia town of Dalton, where my family has lived since the year the Civil War ended. I now live in Norcross, Georgia with my wife and two kids. For my “day job,” I serve as Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness at Achieve Atlanta, a nonprofit that helps Atlanta students access, afford, and earn a postsecondary degree. Prior to Achieve Atlanta, I worked in state government in education policy/research and began my career as a high school math teacher in New Orleans. I’m a Georgia College Bobcat and a Duke Blue Devil.
Articles Published Elsewhere
Bowling with John C. Calhoun - A Deeper South - April 15, 2021
A trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice can start the dialogue about racial injustice - Daily Citizen News (Dalton, GA) - February 25, 2020
Articles on this Substack published prior to July 2021 originally appeared on my Medium page.