It’s a sad time in Pointe Coupee Parish, the state and much of the world after the death Tuesday of Ernest Gaines, whose body of work included some of the most heartfelt literary creations.
It’s naturally tough for those who knew him personally, but it’s also a blow to our society, in general.
Gaines used his work to bring to the forefront racial inequality and injustice. It would seem powerful enough in the hands of capable author, but Gaines took it much further.
The inspiration came from his experiences in plantation life during the “Jim Crow” era, in what was a “separate but (not) equal” mandate when it came to the treatment of African Americans.
Gaines spent much of his time listening. Once he reached his teenage years and followed his parents to California, he immersed himself in literature, which also helped cement the foundation for what would ultimately bring him to an iconic status across America and around the world.
I never had the privilege to meet Gaines, and I will consider it my greatest regret during my time here in New Roads.
It’s true that writers love to talk writing, but a discussion about race relations would have been even better.
The hardships during the Jim Crow era cannot be understated.
Gaines, however, used his literary gifts to demonstrate what should be the “Golden Rule” in life, whether the people are black, white or any other race.
Humanity – and the need for a more humane approach among us as brothers and sisters – formed the cornerstone for his work.
He summed up the inverted mindset of society in this quotation: “More people get upset over two people holding hands than two people holding guns.”
Residents in Pointe Coupee Parish have described him as “reserved” and someone who did not want the spotlight.
In the case of Ernest Gaines, the words in his novels spoke much louder than the voice.
We can take solace in knowing that his works will be available for years and years to come.
Even in the guise of a performer who leaves stage the final time, he left his readers wanting more.
More authors will come down the pike in years to come, perhaps another one from Pointe Coupee Parish some time down the line.
Ernest Gaines, however, will never be replaced or duplicated.
Pointe Coupee Parish and the rest of the world has lost a legendary author and a remarkable human being.
One of the greatest sources of literature and wisdom has been taken from us. The world is poorer today.
Ernest Gaines will be greatly missed.