As the Alabama River wends its way south and west, it meanders in a series of bends before emptying its muddy waters into Mobile Bay. Along the way, about 30 miles from Selma, one of those bends cuts deep into the land to form an isolated peninsula, which is filled by the hamlet of Gee’s Bend.
Gee’s Bend (now also known as Boykin) is home to generations of African-American families whose ancestors were brought to the area as slaves, back when the South was covered in plantations. The story of the people of Gee’s Bend is, therefore, similar to many stories in the South: one marked by inequality, institutionalized racism, and poverty. But the history of Gee’s Bend is also a story of community and creativity, the results of which stand as high-water marks in American art.