I’ll be in Jackson, Mississippi next month giving a presentation during the More Sharing African American Midwife Stories. This is a four-part symposium that are at the fore of efforts of the organization to raise funds to restore the Scott-Ford houses in the city that will interpret the history of midwives in Mississippi. A very brief story on these houses is that a mother and daughter lived next door to each other. The mother, Mary Green Scott, was previously enslaved and had a daughter, Virginia Ford who was a midwife and these houses belonged to them. After nearly being demolished and now boarded up for the past number of years they are working to restore both of these and turn them into historical landmarks. The Scott-Ford project is a pretty radical one and my mind is kind of blown that I get to have a hand in supporting.
In some ways it might seem that I simply stumbled into this back in September while I was at a public library in Miss and happened upon it — but I know I was guided. I found out about it literally just hours before the first presentations during the first part of this series which, of course, I attended and was in awe at the information. The speakers gave great insight on the legacy of Black midwives, how they assisted women during birth, postpartum and the other ways they were prominent in the community — including efforts to save some formal midwife programs. My presentation is called The Influence of African American Midwives on Breastfeeding — so, if you’re nearby come through.
I almost backed all the way out of traveling to the deep south after this election. Mississippi has been hailed as the most racist state in the country with real consequences for some of us and for a second I thought that being there with my numerous intersecting identities wouldn’t be the best thing at the moment — that I might wait until the next round of presentations maybe. But I recognized that each time I visit the South I feel a power that I don’t from any other place I go to. It is possible that it’s all in my head because I’m happy to be there and around the people, food, history — but it’s unlikely just an illusion. I recognize this power that I admire didn’t fall from the sky. That this stems from a process of strategy and resistance by the people due to the legacy of social injustice at the hands of the state. I’m not romanticizing this. But for me what I think it means is that this work is part of that continued legacy — of being strategic, representing and resisting, and I refuse to cower. This is a path toward liberation.
If you want more info you can visit the Scott-Ford house website and, if you’re able to, make a donation toward this project or become involved in some way. This, as the committee stated, is the only location in the country that is working to interpret the history of Black midwives — and that’s a huge deal.