Downhome Memories: Picking Cotton For Lunch Money by Sophia Jeffries

Downhome Memories: Picking Cotton For Lunch Money

The year 1963 is the setting for this novel, Downhome Memories: Picking Cotton For Lunch Money. The backdrop of this book is the rural Mississippi Delta. Mississippi is the poorest state in the union. It has the highest poverty rate, and lowest per capita income. Recently elected Mississippi Governor, Paul Johnson, a devout separatist, in a one-party state, won on his campaign theme, “Stand tall with Paul against those wanting to change Mississippi’s way of life.” Johnson’s popular campaign stump line used among his supporters, assured him of an easy win. He said, “The NAACP stands for Niggers, Alligators, Apes, Coons, and Possums. 

Common white separatist tactics used against Negroes’ during the sixties were, Jim Crow Laws, fire bombings, literacy tests, poll taxes, KKK nightriders and lynchings. 

The Negro community fought discrimination and violence through the courageous efforts and uncompromising voices of the NAACP. The enactment of federal civil and voting rights laws brought hope, and courage to a disenfranchised community of people. SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) used revolutionary-thinking organizers, field secretaries, and volunteers to protest civic and social injustices. Protest marches, organized by religious and civic leaders, sparked a civil rights movement that made gigantic strides in breaking down racial barriers. A cry for human rights, and freedom was heard across America, and, at last, change came. 

Dowhhome Memories: Picking Cotton For Lunch Money, is a coming of age novel about the children in the Jones’ household growing up during the racially turbulent 1960s'. 

Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Velma Louise Jones, and her family, we experience the complexities and nuances of integration as it weaved its way into the fabric of the Negro community. We watch drama unfold as Velma interacts with her family, friends and community, and picks cotton for the first time to gain a sense of independence. Moreover, we experience the ever-changing life cycles of the large, three-generation extended, Jones’ Family. 

What happens when a black family discovers that they share common ancestors with one of the richest white families in town? What happens when the rich white family is forced to deal with the reality that they are descendants of a black matriarch? Can the injustices of slavery be made right for the fifth-generation black descendants of Effie Bailey in 1966? Is reparation the answer? If so, how do modern-day laws, greed, and systemic racism factor into a fair and equitable outcome for the black heirs? 

Downhome Memories: Picking Cotton For Lunch Money is a tribute to the true beauty and strength of the black community when it instinctively took on the role of a village, mentor, and protector for every child.
      About Author

Sophia Litman Jeffries is an author, poet and award-winning playwright. She is a native of Tuskegee, Alabama and a graduate of Tuskegee University. Her books of poetry and works as a playwright, include: Voices From My Female Journey, “Poetography”: Up From the River of Souls, Voices From My Female Journey (A one-woman play), Washtubs Filled with Prayers and Tears (A 3-act play), and “Dawson”: Celebrating the Life, Music and Genius of William Levi Dawson, (A 3-act musical). She and her family reside in the greater metro Atlanta area.

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