Commissioned by AARP Bulletin in April 2010 to make photographs for a story about rural healthcare, photojournalist Matt Eich headed to the blighted neighborhood of Baptist Town, an impoverished African American community in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood. According to Eich, the minute he stepped foot in Baptist Town, he knew that “it was magic.” After spending only 4 hours in the historic blues community, Eich instinctively knew that this was the first of many trips he would make there.

It was soon after his initial visit that Eich’s photographic project, SIN & SALVATION IN BAPTIST TOWN was born. This project represents the first chapter of a two-part exploration of contemporary race and class disparities in Greenwood, Mississippi where, says Eich, “neighboring communities are separated by fear, distrust, and a history of exploitation.”

Cut off on all sides by train tracks, Baptist Town is home to a population of 500 with an unemployment rate estimated at 90% and a host of ever-present social ills. According to Eich, the photographs, made between April and November, “focus on the dichotomy between light and dark, sin and salvation.” As Eich so thoughtfully states, “In a place like Baptist Town, Mississippi, there are two paths you can take in life, but the people I have encountered tread the line between the two, walking both in light and shadow. They are neither good nor evil, they are simply human.”