We Are Not Inbred
Deep in the rural heart of Georgia, an ostracized community fights back against folklore and ridicule—if only the outside world would listen.
Photos by Joseph Jacob
A few days after an unprecedented March ice storm pummeled the area, the ground crunched underfoot. The season reminded Earnest Edwards of the days when he went to school here, and how he used to stand out from the other children due to his patched pant knees, torn T-shirts, and the fact that he sometimes walked to school barefoot, even in winter.
“We were just low-class people, come from a — I don't really know how to put it into words, to be honest with ya,” Edwards said on an unseasonably bitter day here in America's Deep South. “Like I said, our clothes were a little different because they had patches sewn on them, but they were clean. We didn't have the finest shoes to wear.”
Teachers at Effingham County High School in Springfield, Georgia, felt sorry for him and his family. In the 1960s the entire county, comprising some 482 square miles, went to the one high school, which for Earnest's class of 1964 had about 160 graduating students. More damning than the cl…