In August 1997, John Hayes and I left Atlanta in a 1977 Ford pickup bound, more or less, for New Orleans. We wanted to see the South that had produced Johnny Cash and Muddy Waters, Flannery O’Connor and Martin Luther King. The South that isn’t on the main tourist drag. The South we didn’t learn about in school.

A Deeper South.

It was a different era. We shot on 35mm Kodachrome slides and Ilford black and white film. There was no Toyota Prius or GPS. We used pay phones and maps. What resources we did have were used WPA Guides from the 1930s and 40s.

We took five trips between 1997 - 2004 and on each of them we committed to just a few rules:

1. No interstates; stick to back roads.
2. No hotels, unless absolutely necessary.
3. Take lots of pictures.

Twenty years, two weddings, one divorce, one career change, four kids and one mini-van later, we hit the road again in 2018, in search of what we missed the first time around, and are surprised to find how close to home the darker secrets of Southern history really are.

The vision of A Deeper South is rooted in the idea that the spiritual, political, and cultural health of a nation, region, city, town, or person depends upon an honest and unflinching memory; that the gravest danger to our city and ourselves is a willful amnesia; that hope is to be found through the work of active remembrance, putting back together the fragments of personhood scattered by a culture of selective memory.

We hope you will join the journey.

—Pete Candler


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