Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Delta Religion : The Stokes'

I spent the majority of the week following Rev. "JJ" around from King Temple Baptist Church in Clarksdale. Within moments of meeting up with JJ for the first time I began to meet people at every turn, step and corner. I met more people on the arm of Rev. JJ than I ever could have met otherwise. 5 or 6 times each hour, "Ey, Ey, I want ya'll to meet somebody" lifted and hung in the air as the gap between myself and the group or individual Rev. Jackson was talking with, shortened. The first people I met were Percy and Hattie Stokes. Hattie Stokes was instrumental in starting the Prison Ministry in Clarksdale and her father Percy is still currently working as a pastor in nearby Dublin, Mississippi at the ripe age of 91. We shook hands and traded names amid polite introductions and the Reverend and I continued on our way. By the end of my week in Clarksdale I realized that every family, street and evening is connected in Clarksdale as I stepped out of the Stokes' glowing front room out onto the cool dark street filled with sweet air on Saturnday night. I was leaving their home for the fifth time that week. They graciously allowed myself and a few other photographers to spend some time with their family. Percy still has a dog eared Bible on his table. There were some pages where a pressed thumb rested that the opacity of the paper had started to weaken. These pages with thicker, crisper edges were mostly in the New Testament and Psalms. He couldn't see the letters anymore but still held the book to help keep his place as he read the verses from his mind. From the beginning the Stokes welcomed us into their home and answered all our inquiries. They even made Katie a huge breakfast Saturday morning. They are grandparents to their little grandson Za'Vaun and live in a home of hospitatity and warmth. Church is only brick and mortar once or twice a week, but religion follows you home and sticks to your walls.