“As the South Goes…So Goes the Nation.”
W.E.B Du Bois wrote these famous words in Black Reconstruction, linking America’s promise of democracy to the horrendous conditions for Black people in the South. Sadly, the State of Mississippi has long been a bellwether in this regard, from slavery and lynchings to Jim Crow, segregation, and ongoing voter disenfranchisement. Today, Mississippi has both the country’s largest Black population by percentage and its highest poverty rate. This is a not a coincidence but an illustration of how economic inequality goes hand in hand with racial discrimination.
On the flip side of history, Mississippi has also long been a fertile ground for transformative social struggles, from Fannie Lou Hamer to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; and as a cradle of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. In the current period, Mississippi remains a laboratory for experiments in deep democracy and radical visions of what a New South could look like.
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