After last night's closing segment on the Confederate flag outside that Louisiana courthouse, I went back and looked at this old photo from my former Confederate state. The picture above was taken in 1939 by Marion Post Walcott in Belzoni, Mississippi. Belzoni -- pronounced bel-ZON-uh -- is a little bitty place in the Delta that calls itself the Catfish Capital, and probably is.
In the picture you see here, an African-American man is heading up the outside stairs to the section where black people were allowed to sit. The cinema he's going into is called the Crescent. Today, that same man could pay his money and go in through the front door like he should have been able to back then. Except the Crescent isn't there anymore. The local economic development group says people have recently re-opened a New Crescent, but it's more for community events. If you want to see a movie, you have to leave Belzoni and drive an hour north and west to Greenville.
Growing up in the old Confederacy, you get used to this kind of thing. It's as though white people gave up on the idea of old-fashioned public places once they had to share them. Along came cars and suburbs and prosperity, and out went sidewalks and town swimming pools. My people abandoned ordinary civic life, and the result was a whole new kind of ruin.