ROBERT AND WALTER SCOTT - WALNUT, MISSISSIPPI
I’ve known Robert and Walter Scott my entire life (33 years). My grandparents lived down County Road 222 in Walnut, Mississippi, and Robert would walk up the road to visit every day. I would see the brothers sparingly in the years my grandparents were there—only when my parents and I would visit a couple times a year. Usually, Robert would bring the mail or help my grandmother unload groceries.
Now my parents own the house and Robert still visits every day just to check in. At night he goes to his brother Walter’s house to keep him company. I try to visit home at least once a month to see family and I always go with Robert to Walter’s house to sit and talk.
"The Story of Robert and Walter" is an on-going photojournalism project. I’ve been documenting the brothers for 15 years through images, interviews and audio recordings. My goal is to capture a dying culture in a rural Southern setting and to document the Scott brothers’ experience of growing up poor and black in a predominantly white Southern atmosphere.
Robert and Walter’s father was a successful cotton farmer and well-respected in a community emerging from the years of slavery. They are the most interesting people, with a knowledge and intelligence about life sharpened by their experience of poverty. Robert says, “Money sure does make a fool outta people.” And he is right. Walter told me one day when the moon was a thin crescent hanging low in the sky that “that moon’s holdin’ water,” and sure enough, rain came the next day.
Robert just turned 83 and Walter is 87. They still go to the grocery store and keep an elaborate garden. Although it’s seemingly certain that somewhere down the line their ancestors were slaves, we’ve never spoken about it. Instead, we talk about the weather over warm Milwaukee’s Best beer and count how many cats are living under Walter’s house.
Robert and Walter have taught me so much about life and happiness. They are the most joyful people I’ve ever known. It just so happens (yes, randomly), we have the same last name. And I do consider them family.