NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 108

Exiting the exhibition space, we asked the young woman for directions to the bridge from which the body had been thrown. Like the docent at Mount Locust, she hesitated for a moment before she spoke. “Well,” she said, “you can’t drive all the way in. You got to cross the tracks and keep left, then right when the street ends. When you get to the church, park there. You’ll have to walk the rest of the way. They don’t use that bridge no more.” “How far is the walk?” I asked, thinking about the cold. Already it was late afternoon and the light was starting to fade toward early evening. We still had nearly an hour’s drive to Clarksdale. 106 “Oh,” she said, “it’s not far.” Outside, we stood for a few minutes while Lady photographed the gin building and the fields beyond. The Skil-saw was now whining outside, from somewhere behind the building. When it cut off the large man stepped around the corner and strode over to us. The gray ski mask he was wearing was a little disconcerting but also, in a way, comical. He was all mouth and eyes behind ribbed wool. He extended his hand and introduced himself as Johnny Thomas. “Right,” I said. “You were sitting at the front desk, when we came in. We just saw you in the film. Didn’t recognize you with the mask.” He reached to take it off, but I stopped his arm. “Please,” I said. “It’s too cold for that.” We laughed. “Where you all from?” he asked, and we told him. Nodding, he told us he’d been once to Brooklyn and asked us if we were familiar with Calvary Baptist Church. “There’s probably a few of those,” I said, and he nodded in agreement. A pastor of that church had been down with some of her congregation on a mission, he explained, helping with work that Thomas was doing in the local community. His vision, he said, was for the museum to be much more than a monument to the memory of Emmett Till, as terrible and important as that was, or even to the more positive memory of Sonny Boy Williamson. He imagined that the cavernous former cotton gin could also hold a center for high-tech education, where local people could access the Internet and engage with a larger, entrepreneurial world, but that was a ways off, he acknowledged. The earth turns. We were all shifting from foot to foot, our breath hanging in clouds. He smiled through his mask. “Y’all better get in where it’s warm,” he said, and after shaking our hands again, he turned back to his work, to the two younger men who stood watching us behind their white masks. As we walked to the car, the Skil-saw started again, sounding like it was cutting bone in the cold air. “GLENDORA, MS, JANUARY 2015” PHOTOGRAPHS BY LADY PEREZ. LARGE FORMAT ANALOG TO 35MM DIGITAL TRANSFER. At first it was just the relentless damp cold of the Delta as we drove, the flat, gray landscape from which migrating geese rose in massive, convoluted clo VG2'WB'vVF&FR6V6PB&V6R&RFVB&R&W76RFFRWVFB`F( 266&G'WBFR&VF0FBB'W&VBB&VBF7FVVfVFF"fG&'WF'bFPFF6R&fW"ࠠ