Donnie “Pen” Travis, the farmer who was the center SFA’s Gravy podcast episode “A Migration Reversed” passed away in his sleep on June 1, 2018, at the age of 66. Pen was one of fifteen children: 9 girls and 6 boys. He grew up in Petal, Mississippi, in a farming family. When cotton prices dropped, Pen left the South as part of the Great Migration and joined family in Joliet, Illinois. He worked in a warehouse operating a vat that recycled cans, until he said he couldn’t take the winters and hidden prejudice anymore. He claimed to realize that he’d “left paradise to go to hell.” He returned to Mississippi to get back to the family farm, where he worked 16 acres. For many years, Pen was a presence at the Crescent City Farmer’s Market and in the Mississippi farming community.
Remember Pen fondly as you listen to his story on Gravy.