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    Posted January 29, 2012 by
    pensacola, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

    More from JamesAmerson

    My Rural Decay in Black and White


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     JamesAmerson says he spent most of his summers in Atmore, Alabama, as a child and spent a lot of time playing in the areas he photographed.
    - davidw, CNN iReport producer

    Born and raised in the south and being honest, I have spent most of my life trying to remove myself from my legacy. My part of the south doesn’t have the best of reputations. Often referred to as the “Redneck Riviera” or the “buckle of the Bible belt”, both endearments are inferring to a poor and narrow minded culture, a place where many make jokes of and most wouldn’t want to dwell. Born on the north side of the Florida state line in the small town of Atmore, Alabama, my family later moved just to the south of that line into Pensacola. I understand why others have a less than flattering view of the South because I have seen it from the inside and many of those stereotypes are true.

    But as I age and become more aware of my place in the universe, my need to flee my heritage has morphed into a respect for what my ancestors had to do just to stay alive. Where there was shame, I have found gratefulness and pride.

    So, my new goal is to take photos and record this area, to celebrate the hard work and vision of a people and a culture that may have been uneducated and socially repressed, but worked hard and didn’t know the meaning of entitlement. A group of people who had to work together to overcome adversities beyond our comprehension. To grow their own food, make their own cloths, build their own homes and raise and kill livestock,,, just to survive,,, just so I could come along several years later and photograph the fading and crumbling icons of their hard lives.

    This is my way to say thanks to my family tree that worked so hard to build a better life. I am proud to call myself a Southerner.
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