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Cairo, Illinois and "Between Two Rivers"
31 Aug 2012
Published To

From "Potential and Peril Lie 'Between Two Rivers,'" by Matthew Meacham of The Daily Yonder:

"A documentary film explores the rich and rough heritage of Cairo, Illinois, situated at one of the most precarious spots in all the U.S.

"'What do you want to be when you grow up?'

"When Between Two Rivers, an intriguing documentary film, played at the Junior/Senior High School in Cairo, Illinois, two months ago, the line that garnered the heartiest applause was a teenage girl’s reply:

"'My name’s Tyquesha, and I want to be a judge.'

"For anyone familiar with this town at the brink of Illinois, the community’s strong reaction makes sense. 

"Tyquesha [pictured in this postcard] has set a goal that is both admirable and attainable. Such goals sustain the determined optimism that Cairo’s citizens exhibit even in the face of daunting challenges. Jay Manus, a regional civic leader who has visited 26 countries in military and diplomatic capacities, said the residents of Cairo possess 'some of the greatest will to survive of any people I’ve ever met.'

"At the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi, Cairo is the southernmost municipality in the Land of Lincoln – the southernmost physically, perhaps also the Southernmost culturally. In Life on the Mississippi (1883), Mark Twain observed, 'Cairo has a heavy railroad and river trade, and her situation at the junction of the two great rivers is so advantageous that she cannot well help prospering.'

"Prosper it did.  In 1939 Cairo, with a population 13,532, was a major center of railroad shipping and cottonseed processing and a bustling commercial hub serving surrounding rural areas in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. But in 2012, the population of Cairo is less than 2,900, and the poverty rate exceeds thirty percent.

"What caused the decline of this community that had so much promise and seemed well on its way to fulfilling it?  What can be done – and what is being done – to compensate and to give Cairo reasons for optimism?  

"Those are the two central questions that Between Two Rivers,  the documentary by Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan, seeks to answer.

Read the Daily Yonder's full article here

Art Community Culture Education History Innovation Justice Recovery Rural/Regional Social Enterprise Challenges Documentary Film Illinois Midwest Preservation Revitalization
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