With the novelistic verve that helped make All Our Kin a beloved, classic work, Carol Stack tells the story of a little-known yet compelling reverse exodusof half a million black Americans in the cities of the North, who heard a call to return home to the rural South. Skillfully evoking the terrain of Carolina towns she calls Burdy’s Bend, New Jericho, and Rosedale, Stack interweaves a powerful human story with a larger economic and social analysis of migration, families, and poverty. Call to Home offers a rare glimpse of African-American communities pulling together, determined to make it in today’s America.
Anthropologist Stack, who in All Our Kin interviewed Southerners who had moved to Northern cities, here reverses the journey, following black returnees south. While her account, which describes people in four pseudonymous communities in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina, is not comprehensive, it is a sensitive portrait of a little-studied phenomenon. The land is poor and demanding; in one family, the patriarch committed suicide to prevent medical bills from taking their precious plot. The ties of family can be rich but also painful: two siblings remain endless burdens on their relatives. While jobs in the North have dried up, black adults have absorbed a history of struggle and won't settle for neo-Jim Crow. The most inspiring part of the narrative involves three women who founded a community service organization called Holding Hands; with her expertise from up north, one of the women knew that local authorities had not taken advantage of federal day care funds. Stack suggests that South and North have grown closer, as both places offer limited opportunity and lingering insecurity. $35,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Apr.)