At the behest of my mother, I just finished reading a book called “Growing Up Colored in Mississippi” by Dr. C. Rayfield Haynes which reminds me of Granny’s Deviled Eggs. Mom stopped quite short of recommending the book, so it took me a few years to get around to it, but she did say the author depicted what life was like for her growing up in Mississippi.
After Dr. Haynes left his segregated small town to attend the HBCU Alcorn State University he lamented: “Though a native Mississippian, and thus a product of a segregated tradition, I still was not used to the caste system and the animosity that separated coloreds and whites in Greenwood. All things considered, I had, while growing up in Jefferson Davis County, shared an elevated status among colored and white people alike. Otherwise, Daddy and Mama had done a good job of shielding me from any direct victimization by white people.” “The rule rather than the exception had been that the great majority of the colored people in the county held their own with a certain dignity.” “Practically all of the coloreds owned their own land, and while none would have been considered rich, they all fed their families well and otherwise made out alright.”
My maternal great-grandfather William Stamps was born January 8, 1889 in Utica, Mississippi the youngest of six boys – Aunt Mita, the only girl came along a few years after; he was the only member of his family with a light complexion which is not something anyone in my family discusses with pride. I knew him when I was a child. Their father Bob Stamps was a land owner who leased out land to his own adult sons to sharecrop. Once Great-grandpa had saved enough money to buy his own land, he made sure to purchase near the private school for Black children begun by Booker T. Washington protege William Hotzclaw so that his children would be afforded an education. Owning land meant your children did not have to sharecrop therefore could attend school year round. Black people in places like Greenwood, the Cotton Capital of the World, thus obvious birthplace of the Blues, didn’t have schools to send their children to. Despite paying property, income and sales taxes the state of Mississippi did not provide Blacks many services including access to public education. Booker T. Washington convinced Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears and Roebuck at the time, to help build more than 5000 schools for Black children including the one my family went to; Mr. Rosenwald agreed in part because he had been forced to drop out and enter the workforce at an early age himself. Black children like my Aunt Barbara and her siblings, who had no school in their towns, had to travel fifty miles on a daily basis to attend school at Utica Institute. Because the schools were private, singing quartets traveled the world to raise money for the schools. As a member of the 2nd string quartet, Grandpa was said to have appeared in an early Hollywood film but never made it to Europe like some of his classmates. The all Black faculty members, including my grandmother at a point in time, kept the students basted with book learning and the Bible. Mom wondered recently how no one would get sick at the church dinners they would have on the grass in the summertime. I imagine everyone dining on deviled eggs, amazing potato salad and fried fish among other delicacies. Thank you to my niece Haley for inspiring Granny’s Deviled Eggs, a recipe she learned from her maternal grandmother Mrs. Sandi Watkins. Try the eggs with a salsa or harissa seasoning to tantalize your taste buds that much more.
1.Place water into a medium to large saucepan on high heat until it boils.
2. Add eggs. Reduce heat to medium and cook for at least 6 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove saucepan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Peel and carefully slice eggs in half lengthwise and arrange on the platter.
5. Using a small spoon, scoop out the egg yolks into a bowl and combine with the next three ingredients.
6. Cut off the tip of the corner of a sandwich sized plastic bag with cooking shears. Add the egg yolk mixture to the bag.
7. Use the plastic bag as a piping bag to refill the yolks into the boiled egg cavities.
8. Chill for at least one hour and serve.
Optional: For an East African-style Deviled Eggs Sprinkle with Harissa Seasoning.
For a Mexican inspired Deviled Egg top the eggs with fresh cilantro and a dab of salsa.