Listening to Color
“More than a hundred graves lie in this flat, sandy ground—remains of African Americans who lived between 1840 and the present. Brambles and brush obscure many graves. Some markers carry inscriptions that are no longer legible while others bear the names of families still living nearby.”
Historian Anne McKeithen set herself a personal challenge: record the lives and stories of the members of the African American community with whom she shared her southern hometown as a child. It was an iconic southern town, similar to those described by writers Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor. The African American community existed alongside the powerful white community, but was invisible. It lived on “the other side of the tracks” with unpaved streets and unpainted houses. Anne McKeithen lived through the arrival of the civil rights movement and desegregation. She witnessed the struggle which challenged this North Carolina community. Now, she returned to gather the stories from the people who actually lived the changes that ripped so many towns apart. Interviewing dozens of folks, she wrote a vibrant oral history of this critical time in American history. She had collected a boxful of snapshots which she thought might be useful in illustrating this story and she also had thumbnail sketches of maps which would clarify the geography in her story. Some of the more important images were so poor they really were not suitable for reproduction. I convinced Anne to hire professional illustrator Frank Riccio to work with her images and create a set of illustrations and maps which would complement her fluid and fascinating writing. I selected a typeface common in small southern print shops in the early twentieth century, American Type Foundry’s Goudy released in 1915. Digital typographer Barry Schwartz had recently gone back to the original ATF designs and created a beautiful set of fonts he labelled Sorts Mill Goudy. The results are fonts with very nice character spacing, small caps, old style figures and fractions . . . all the features needed for beautiful page design.
Listening to Color: Blacks and Whites in Aberdeen, North Carolina
Piney Woods, 2012
Soft cover, 5.25×8 inches