Princeton Professor and Glenside Resident Enlightens Others about the South, the ‘Soul of a Nation’

woman smiling
Image via Imani Perry at LinkedIn.
Imani Perry.

Imani Perry, now of Glenside, was born in Alabama and then moved to Massachusetts. That change that gave her an “external view of the place that was home to me,” she said. Robin Rose Parker explained how that impact shaped Perry in The Washington Post.

Perry, a professor of African American Studies at Princeton, collected her thoughts and experiences in a book: South to America, A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation.”

In it, she seeks to counter general anti-South sentiment by citing the region’s historic, economic, and cultural importance.

“All of the industries that made the country a global power — cotton, coal, tobacco, sugar — all of these industries were essential to building the wealth of the nation, and they wound up being centered in the South,” she said.

Further, it’s a centerpiece for art, she noted. “…cross-stitch, crotchet, and quilting; creating beauty literally from the scraps on the margins. [It’s] such a deeply Southern way of living.”

The book is also a travelogue, albeit a nontraditional one.

“I wanted to avoid the major historic sites, and instead I wanted to touch the land and people. And the benefit of doing that in the South is that people will talk to you. …I had so many great conversations that took me on these wonderful, side journeys,” she commented.

More on Imani Perry and her deeply personal book is at The Washington Post.