Family photograph 1941

 Griffin family Belzoni Mississippi 1941
Griffin family Belzoni Mississippi 1941

My family was enslaved on an unincorporated community called Deovolente which is located in Humphreys County, Mississippi on the Yazoo River in the Delta region 3 miles NE of Belzoni.  Deovolente means God willing and I often wonder if it was the will of God to bring my family to that land, but it certainly was the will of God that my family was able to leave the area with their heads held high.

Once freed from enslavement my family were sharecroppers for the next 4 generations on farmland across Humphreys County which led to the story of my Great Grandfather Paul Griffin. Great grandaddy Paul was born in 1900 and he spent his formative years dually sharecropping in the cotton fields and being educated by his mother Willie Griffin. Great grandaddy Paul married my Great Aunt who was also named Willie and had 9 children, 8 boys and 1 girl. Great grandaddy Paul was also a campaigner for voter registration for African American people in Mississippi. Because of his work, he was chased from Mississippi and half of the family ended up in Phoenix, Arizona and the other half, including my grandfather Andrew Griffin eventually made their way to Chicago. My father Andre Griffin was a proud Chicagoan but moved with my mother Donna to Arizona to be with the other half of the family where I was born.  When I was very young we moved home to Chicago and lived on the West Side. Chicago has shaped my identity but my connection to both Mississippi and Arizona is ever present.

Place(s): Deovolente, Mississippi Belzoni, Mississippi, Phoenix, Arizona, Chicago, Illinois
Year: 1951

– Erica Griffin

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more