Once you’ve left home in search of a better life, what might make you return? During the Great Migration, six million African Americans left the South for the North. Farmer Donnie “Pen” Travis was one of them. But that was just the start of his journey.

In this episode of Gravy, Eve Abrams brings us the story of one man’s migration, and how farming prompted both his departure… and his return.

Donnie "Pen" Travis on his farm in Mississippi.
Donnie “Pen” Travis on his farm in Mississippi.

For a really compelling, beautifully written narrative of the Great Migration, we highly recommend Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns.

Donnie "Pen" Travis with his goats.
Donnie “Pen” Travis with his goats.

Also, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has put together a multimedia presentation about the African American Migration Experience, which you can find here.

Farmer Melvin Jones.
Farmer Melvin Jones.

For more information about farming co-ops with majority black ownership, visit the website of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.