THE STOMPING GROUNDS OF JIM CROW, CIRCA 1930'S
Yael Hollander's people have agonized from persecution for thousands of years. And now, with the onset of WWII, her European relations are about to experience the greatest calamity of their long and tragic history: genocide of unimaginable proportions. Yael, a young, promising artist, lives with her immediate family on the Lower East Side of New York City. The time is during the Great Depression, but her family is familiar with hard times and manages to make ends meet. Yael takes advantage of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" and the Works Projects Administration's Art Program, designed to provide economic relief to artists and return a sense of pride to all who have suffered from the hardships of the Great Depression. Artists of every medium are assigned to decorate public buildings, schools, post offices with murals, paintings, and sculptures throughout the countryside. Yael's project is to paint a mural on the wall of the courthouse in West Yazoo County, Mississippi, a place that is as alien to her way of life as the country of Lithuania, from which her parents fled. She quickly discerns that the deep Jim Crow south is virulent with hate, fueled by ignorance, abject poverty and the loss of the Civil War. Multiple forms of xenophobia reign supreme amongst the populace. As a Jew, she suffers their wrath, along with her newfound friends; black folks who suffer worse than their forebears did under slavery; a Choctaw Indian whose ancestors settled in the delta over two thousand years ago and were stripped of their land, their culture, and dignity by trickery and cunning that led to their death march on the Trail of Tears; a dirt-poor white girl who is punished for having mercy on an orphaned black baby. Their story is chronicled by Yael and witnessed by a centuries-old entity that harbors Secrets of the Black Tupelo.