You can’t get to Panola, AL from here. In fact, it’s hard to get there from anywhere.
But I have been. Even been to church here. And a barbecue. It’s tucked back in the pines just off highway 17 on the west side of Sumter County. Some say it has about 400 residents. Truth is I’m not sure anyone is counting. The same can be said for Danzy or Warsaw or Geiger.
It’s been the home of my friend Clyde Marine for decades. His daughter Connie is just a few hundred yards away. Clyde is 95 years old now. Without doubt, one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known If a machine has a motor. Clyde can make it run. Or build one for it.
Dorothy Oliver runs a very small store in Panola. If something is going on in the community, Dorothy knows about it. Her sidekick is county commissioner Druicilla Russ-Jackson. In this little part of the world, if help is on the way, someone who lives there has to provide it.
So it was when the coronavirus came to west Alabama. Dorothy and Druicillia set about to get locals vaccinated. By the time the job was done, the majority of people in Panola had gotten a shot..
And news about their effort traveled all the way to New York City where The New Yorker magazine did a short documentary about what they The Panola Project Take a few minutes to watch it and be uplifted by the effort of Dorothy and Druicillia to help their neighbors..( Editor’s note: click documentary on bottom right to activate sound)
It is impossible to watch this and not contrast it to so many who are intent to try and twist public health policy to their own selfish political purposes with this virus.