Small Town is a fictional story of a family’s generational navigation through the Jim Crow South. The book is a collection of fictional stories woven together to describe the lives, times, and struggles of a black family living in the Deep South in a climate of racial animus. Three generations of family members’ experiences are depicted in a plethora of colorful characters.
The only thing that helped this family through precarious and challenging times was their faith, family, and friends. Ultimately, the book Small Town shows us that no matter what we encounter or embark on in life, we can achieve and be successful under even the most distressful circumstances. This family’s accomplishments were typical of a generation of people who were persistent and who instilled perseverance in their children, passed down from generation to generation.
The Southern town where the setting of the book is depicted is a typical southern small town as they existed after the Civil War Reconstruction. Small Town refers not only to the population of the Southern town but also its mentality. Small towns were microcosms of the racist and white-supremacist attitudes that were pervasive below the Mason-Dixon line before and after landmark civil rights legislations.
Rumors and rumors of rumors were a constant in this environment. Everyone knew your comings and goings in this small American town, and similarly, just like the major cities, only a few prominent families dictated who would be the haves and the have-nots. The fictional family in this book displayed the balance and flexibility to walk the tightrope of race and bigotry to maintain a social status that was rare and unique for black families in the Deep South. Religion and education were the foundations for this family and were their main weapons against any adversity that they encountered.