After weeks of wandering along the rambling roads of the Deep South we rolled into the port city of Mobile, Alabama. The stories shared by Griot participants revealed the day-to-day dynamics of a semi-industrial port community. They also reflected the collective experience of systematic exclusion from the electoral process and city government. African Americans in Mobile did not achieve any representation in city government until 1985. It was taxation without representation. Griot participant Sam Jones is Mobile’s first African American mayor. He was elected in 2005 and is currently serving in his first term. The Honorable Samuel Jones owes his accomplishment, in part, to men like James H. Finley and others like him who gave their lives for the health and well being of their community, setting a bold example of possibility. (more…)
After work, Mike and I hit the streets of Mobile for a little Mardi Gras fun. Think Mardi Gras and New Orleans immediately comes to mind, but Mobile proudly lays claim to the first Mardi Gras. The party began in 1703 after French soldiers survived a bout of Yellow Fever. The advent of the Civil War postponed the tradition for years, but it was revived in 1866 when Confederate veteran Joe Cain marched the streets of Mobile dressed as the fictional Chickasaw Indian Chief Slacabamorinico in tribute to that tribe’s sustained resistance to federal troops. Others joined and history was made. A considerably smaller, family-oriented affair, Mobile still manages to fill the streets with floats, people, beads and moonpies. Joe Cain may have died in 1904 but his legacy is celebrated each Mardi Gras with “The People’s Parade” on Joe Cain Day.