The Ground on Which I Stand
Tamina, a Freedmen's Town
Photography - African American Studies - Texana
8.5 x 11, 160 pp.
95 color, 11 b&w images. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 06/06/2016
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
Price:        $40.00


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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The Ground on Which I Stand

Tamina, a Freedmen's Town

Marti Corn                    
Introduction by Thad Sitton
Contributions by Tracy Xavia Karner and Tacey A. Rosolowski

In 1871, newly freed slaves established the community of Tamina—then called “Tammany”—north of Houston, near the rich timber lands of Montgomery County. Located in proximity to the just-completed railroad from Conroe to Houston, the community benefited from the burgeoning local lumber industry and available transportation. The residents built homes, churches, a one-room school, and a general store.

Over time, urban growth has had a powerful impact on Tamina. The sprawling communities of The Woodlands, Shenandoah, Chateau Woods, and Oak Ridge have encroached, introducing both opportunity and complication, as the residents of this rural community enjoy both the benefits and the challenges of urban life. On the one hand, the children of Tamina have the opportunity to attend some of the best public schools in the nation; on the other hand, residents whose education and job skills have not kept pace with modern society are struggling for survival.

Through striking and intimate photography and sensitively gleaned oral histories, Marti Corn has chronicled the lives, dreams, and spirit of the people of Tamina. The result is a multi-faceted portrait of community, kinship, values, and shared history.

MARTI CORN is a documentary portrait photographer based in Houston. Her art photography has been featured in exhibitions in Minneapolis, Portland, New York, Rome, Houston, and Washington, DC.

What Readers Are Saying:

“The Ground on Which I Stand is a remarkable and important piece of work, of equal parts beauty and truth, establishing Marti Corn as a truly talented photographer and documentary artist.  With her considerable skills, and to her great credit, she gives us pictures of the people of Tamina that are as honest and unpretentious as family snapshots, yet as beautiful as any portraits I have seen in contemporary color photography.” — Geoffrey Winningham, Lynette S. Autrey Chair in the Humanities and Professor of Visual and Dramatic Arts, Photography, Rice University

“The Ground on Which I Stand offers its readers a powerful phenomenological analysis that captures the qualitative perceptions and lived experiences of families who struggle to protect their historic past and ambivalent future. A town once thought of as a safe haven for freed slaves to start new lives is now facing the threat of gentrification that may drive their descendants away from a place they affectionately refer to as, ‘home.’” — Dr. Austin A. Lane, President, Lone Star College-Montgomery

“Marti is a passionate and skilled photographer who possesses so much caring and deep empathy for her subjects that you can’t help but feel it jump off the page and touch your heart. The beautiful photos in The Ground on Which I Stand are evidence of this ability. Her vision is honed and sharp, but her heart is wide open.” — Douglas Beasley

“Marti Corn has provided us with a kind of raw reporting of a part of Texas history that has been marginalized in our collective past. The Ground on Which I Stand is a poignant chronicle of the past and present of Tamina, revealing in its straightforward and never sentimental approach. Corn’s keen eye gives us the ground truth as the story of Tamina continues to unfold, which is both deeply respectful of its inhabitants and thorough in its scope.” — Nancy Wozny, Editor in Chief, Arts + Culture TX

“There is such rich history here. We’ve a strong sense of community in this town.”— Rita Haywood Wiltz, sixth-generation resident

“It means a lot to see kids coming out [to a trail ride] wrapped up on a horse with their daddy.”—Barry Schuster, cowboy

“It doesn’t matter if you’re related or not, you’re still thought of as family.”—Jaren Chevalier, high school student

"The prejudice we have felt might be one of the reasons we are such a close community."—Molly Brown, lifelong resident

“Times sure could be real hard, and we had many hungry days.”— L. C. "Joe" Rhodes, lifelong resident

“All are welcome around the dinner table, regardless of who they are. It’s part of what gives us a sense of community.” — Reverend Roger Leveston

“Thanks to Marti Corn and the residents of Tamina, we now have a model for identifying, appreciating, and celebrating similar vestiges of our shared past, even as they tenaciously hang along the edges of great change.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly


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