Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

Just after reaching the crest of the hill, with a small country church and prominent greenish-gray boulders to the right, I stopped my car by the side of the road one afternoon and let the view envelop me—there, about four miles ahead, stretched the thousand-foot-high wall of the Blue Ridge Mountains, framed by the massive rocky dome of Table Rock to the left ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

In many ways, this book has reminded me of what I love most about being an anthropologist—the opportunity to help give voice to those whose voices may have been ignored or overlooked, and to restore dignity and respect to those lives.
From the moment in May 2007 when I first met Mable Owens Clarke, I have been privileged to be able to help her tell the story of the Liberia ...

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1. Shifting Paradigms: Understanding the Liberia Community

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pp. 1-24

“Your church is on fire!” the woman shouted, as she pounded furiously on the door of the rural house one peaceful Saturday evening in April 1967. Alarmed, the African American residents raced out the door and stood, horrified and helpless, at the sight—on top of the hill, the small wooden Soapstone Baptist Church blazed uncontrollably. Someone called the only ...

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2. You Zip Your Lips: Life in Slavery

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pp. 25-45

The human story of the settlement of the area that would be named the Oolenoy Valley began with the arrival of the first Native Americans, but this arrival and the subsequent cultural periods of Native occupation of the area remain a separate story, beyond the reach of Liberia’s immediate history. It is important to note, however, that a Native American presence can still ...

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3. The Times Ahead Are Fearful: The Late Nineteenth Century

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pp. 46-80

Between the census decades of 1860 and 1870, life for most African Americans in Upstate South Carolina, and in fact the United States, radically changed. While black farmers or blacksmiths or midwives or laundresses continued their tasks in much the same way as they always had, ownership of their labor now became contested between themselves and (for most of them) their former enslavers. ...

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4. The Whites Got the Best: The Early Twentieth Century

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pp. 81-121

The community into which Katie Owens’s new grandson, Christopher, was born underwent significant demographic transformations within both their adult lives. As the new century opened, much of the South remained very rural, historian Gilbert Fite observed: “many families never traveled out of their home county or beyond the nearby village.” ...

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5. It Really Wasn’t a Bad Life: The Mid-Twentieth Century

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pp. 121-167

By the birth of Mable Owens almost exactly a century after her great-grandmother Katie Owens, life in the Oolenoy Valley had improved dramatically in many ways, and yet a lingering cloud of oppression still polluted the social atmosphere. While no longer in legal servitude, African Americans in northern Pickens and Greenville Counties (as elsewhere in the nation) ...

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6. Because Hatred Is All It Was: Death and Resurrection

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pp. 168-177

A scan through the headlines of the Greenville News (published in the largest regional city) from April 1967 reveals the general concerns of the nation at this time. Israel was fighting with Syria in the Near East. In Southeast Asia, the Vietnam War raged on, with hundreds of American soldiers killed or wounded each month. Communist casualties (those of North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong [Vietnamese troops]) ranged into the thousands, ...

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7. This Is My Home: Into the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 178-200

The Oolenoy Valley that Mable Owens Clarke had left in 1961 for better economic opportunities and less racism up north had transformed completely by the time she returned in 1983 to care for her aging parents, like so many of her friends and relatives had done in past decades. The horror, shame, and fear felt by Edgar Smith the night he stood helplessly amid ...

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8. It’s Sacred Ground: The Cultural Meaning of Land

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pp. 201-210

One afternoon, while sitting in the Fellowship Hall of Soapstone Baptist Church, Mable Clarke explained her feelings about Liberia, and in doing so, she transformed her physical sense of place into a metaphysical sense of peace—about that place. Her voice slowed as she thought carefully about her precise words: “So it’s a sense of peace. Peace. ...

Appendix 1. Soapstone Baptist Church Cemetery Grave Names

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pp. 211-214

Appendix 2. Partial Kinship Chart of Mable Owens Clarke

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pp. 215-216

Appendix 3. Names of Contemporary Informants

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pp. 217-218

Notes

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pp. 219-248

Bibliography

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pp. 249-260

Index

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pp. 261-270

Further Series Titles

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Image Plates

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