The Lost Culture of Maxwell Street

“There is an existential tradition within American Negro Life and, of course, that comes out of the blues and spirituals.”

— Ralph Ellison


t was an icy-cold Sunday afternoon in January as I devoured one of Jim’s Original Polish Sausages. The pungent open-air odor of grilled food wafted past my nostrils as hot onions, jalapeno peppers, and pitch-forked French fries clung to my mouth like blood-sucking leeches.

I thought about my beloved Uncle Miles Malone, who was born in 1908 in Greenwood, Mississippi. He moved to…



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