Kinchen “Bubba” Okeefe

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My conversation with “Bubba” was impromptu! I was exploring Clarksdale on foot and stopped by the tourism office, where he works. We chatted right up until I needed to head to Cleveland, Mississippi for interviews with Dr. Rolanda Herts and Dr. Pam Chatman. Bubba’s love and commitment to Clarksdale was palpable. I loved how he made no attempts to gloss over the economic challenges of the region and works to identify the what’s unique and sacred about the Delta in order to translate that into economic activity. On the other hand, when he talked about people, he chose to focus on love and didn’t want to rehearse the injuries of the past. Interestingly, many people of color view being solely future-focused is an attempt to dodge the difficult topic of race in America. Ironically, during my conversation with Rebekah and Ben of the Griot Arts program, they talked about important it is to deal with race and the transgressions of the past. In particular, they talked a visioning exercise they did with the community to generate ideas about how to best utilize an older the theater that had been donated to their organization. They shared that a white gentleman participated in that exercise and suggested that they focus on love and moving forward. As I spoke with Bubba, I wondered if he was that guy. Check out the end of part two of my conversation with my conversation with Rebekah and Ben to hear that particular segment of our conversation. Below is my conversation with Bubba.




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