Using local newspapers and tracing the origins of several stories about the development of the sobriquet “Yellow Dog,” this essay demonstrates how the heritage trail markers erected in Moorhead, Mississippi, silence the origins of the term in the suffering of African American men and women who worked in the rolling convict lease camp that built the “Yellow Dog” railroad through the Great Swamp. The marker’s text instead forwards a dubious debate over the term’s origins, excluding its true beginnings in the experiences of African Americans. The heritage trail markers at Moorhead are only one of the examples of how professional state consultants and the Delta Center for Culture and Learning promote racial division—not reconciliation—through erasure of the African American past.
“Ripped Spike, Tie and Rail from Its Moorings”: Blues Tourism, Racial Reconciliation, and the “Yellow Dog” of the Mississippi Blues Trail
T. DeWayne Moore is the executive director of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund and an assistant professor of history at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he teaches courses on African American history and public history. A native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, he studied public history at Middle Tennessee State University and earned his doctorate at the University of Mississippi.
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T. DeWayne Moore; “Ripped Spike, Tie and Rail from Its Moorings”: Blues Tourism, Racial Reconciliation, and the “Yellow Dog” of the Mississippi Blues Trail. The Public Historian 7 May 2020; 42 (2): 56–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2020.42.2.56
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