Wendell Griffen, 66, is all of these things. But his persona is so large, his reputation so loud, his “rightness” so locked in and eagerly defended, that the man’s depth can be lost in the shallows in which he must wade.
In one of life’s delicious little ironies, New Millennium Church now meets on the campus associated with one of Little Rock’s most ardent racists of the 1950s.
View the photo gallery of Wendell Griffen.
“We may not end poverty in the next decade, but I think we can take some significant steps toward reducing food-insecurity in the United States and around the globe.”
“If you come and see the people, and talk with them, they don’t talk about how they’re living on less than $12,000 a year. They’re not talking about the fact that they go to bed hungry at night or that they don’t have a hospital. Their focus is on their joy and the things they do have. There is a lot of love.”
On many days, the endless work of combatting rural poverty leaves you in the dark, utterly hopeless, Frances Ford says, but as Perry County’s own begin to build it themselves, hope flickers. True asset-based community development is sluggish work, and, at times, maybe impossible work.
There is a tension you must hold in Perry County, Alabama, between strength and fragility, beauty and dismay, resilience and defeat. The moment you discount its people and cry “poverty,” Perry County bewilders you with overwhelming abundance and gratitude. The moment you discover the outright richness of life there, you must contend with the exhaustive power of poverty to steal home, health and even your next meal.
Alabama: Perry County is a series about holding a healthy tension between a perspective of scarcity and one of joy and strength. What, in all realities, appears to be extreme poverty may actually represent generations of strong, resilient families who have made a true home in Perry County.
Twenty years ago, Frances Ford left her nursing career in Selma, Ala., to seek justice and development among her lifelong neighbors in Perry County. She speaks in this video about change in Perry County.