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‘In That Land of Perfect Day’ — Photographer documents life in the Delta

Photographer Brandon Thibodeaux’s art will be featured in a gallery showing at the Lincoln County Public Library Aug. 7-30, entitled “In That Land of Perfect Day.” A reception with the photographer will be Thursday, from 5 until 7 p.m.

The show depicts the rural African American experience of the Mississippi Delta while reflecting upon the region’s history through tales of racial strife, struggle and triumph.

Thibodeaux is a Port Arthur, Texas, native with a degree in photojournalism. He has had exhibitions across the United States and in England.

Here’s what Thibodeaux had to say about this exhibit:

“For the past eight years I have lived with and photographed a number of families in townships and villages spanning some 60 square miles of the northern Mississippi Delta — towns with names like Alligator, BoBo and Duncan, as well as the United States’ oldest completely African American municipality, Mound Bayou.

“During this time I came across a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from November 1967 in which he uses the Biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to voice his call for civil disobedience. The three men, in refusing to bow before King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol, were cast into a fiery furnace but found themselves shielded from its flames by their faith in their Lord. To this Dr. King exclaimed, ‘Somewhere along the way you should discover something that is so dear, so precious to you, that is so eternally worthful, that you will never give it up. You ought to discover some principle. You ought to have some great faith that grips you so much that you will never give it up. Somehow you must go on and say, “I know that the God that I worship is able to deliver me, but if not, I’m going on anyhow, I’m going to stand up for it anyway!”’

“This quote speaks to two themes— faith and perseverance. And in reflecting upon this I realized that these themes run throughout my experiences in the Delta. From the life of a single mother fighting to provide for her children to the chorus of the hymns we sing in church, like ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ and ‘By and By,’ from which the title of this project is derived.

“‘By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home; we will tell the story of how we’ve overcome; we will understand it better by and by.’

“Over these past eight years I have witnessed signs of strength against struggle, humility amidst pride and a promise for deliverance in the lives that I have come to know. While this work makes specific reference to the rural black experience, I am reminded with every visit that these themes of faith, identity, and perseverance are common to us all for these are the traits of strong men.”