Growing Up Poor And Black In The South: Interview With Chattanooga Ruth

They say there are two Americas today. Go back in time and we find more–but not too far back, mind you. Try 1950s Tennessee in the neighborhood Ruth Stewart grew up in.

Poverty without food programs, addiction without treatment options, segregated schools: Ruth opens up about these realities just some decades ago.

But she also shares about her turnaround, the lessons she’s learned, and words to those who struggle today. And struggle they do, says Ruth, who laments the violence in the inner-city and the need for a president of the US “who’s gonna do something.”

Then she wraps up our interview on a high note: a word about the beauty of the South.

I met Ruth as I had met other folks I interviewed on my Southern journey: by complete chance. I had by now made my way to the other side of Tennessee. With Memphis in my rear-view mirror, I skirted the tops of Mississippi and Alabama on my way to the cities of Cleveland and Chattanooga.

map to Chattanooga

There were some stops along the way, and certainly I had other reasons for coming to eastern Tennessee than this chance encounter with a local senior.

But today I offer you this chance encounter.

It was midday August 1. I was to wander this beautiful, historic city of Chattanooga for the afternoon. But first I met Ruth, and she offered another history (and a whole other perspective) on Chattanooga, on the South, on America, and on life.

What say you?