Sunday 19 February 2012

The America Project - Mississippi

Mississippi (MS) size 48,434 sq.m population 3 million

Bordering states Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama (4)
State capital and most populous city Jackson
Other notable places Gulfport, Biloxi, Tupelo, Greenville, Southaven, Hattiesburg, Meridian
Notable landmarks and natural features Mississippi River, Natchez National Park
Statehood 10th December 1817 (20th)

Ten famous Mississippians
Sam Cooke (singer and songwriter; born Clarksdale, 1931-1964)
Bo Diddley (musician; born McComb, 1928-2008)
Jim Henson (puppeteer and filmmaker; born Greenville, 1936-1990)
Medgar Evers (civil rights activist; born Decatur, 1925-1963)
Morgan Freeman (actor; born Memphis, Tennessee (grew up in Charleston), 1937 -)
James Earl Jones (actor; born Arkabutla, 1931 -)
Elvis Presley (singer, musician and actor; born Tupelo, 1935-1977)
Tennessee Williams (author; born Columbus, 1911-1983)
Oprah Winfrey (actress, producer and television host; born Kosciusko, 1954 -)
Howlin' Wolf (musician; born West Point, 1910-1976)

Three important events

1. Assassination of Medgar Evers (12th June 1963)
Medgar Evers was a civil rights leader, awakened to the cause after returning from active duty in the army during World War II. He was particularly occupied with his campaign for the desegregation of the University of Mississippi. By the time of his death he was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Mississippian secretary. On the night of 12th June, the same day that President Kennedy had delivered a televised address in favour of the civil rights movement, Evers was gunned down with an Enfield rifle after returning home from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Byron De La Beckwith (a member of the White Citizen's Council) was arrested for the murder, but not convicted of it until 1994, having lived as a free man for the three intervening decades, during which he'd also joined the Ku Klux Klan. Evers' assassination was commemorated in Bob Dylan's song Only A Pawn In Their Game and in Nina Simone's Mississippi Goddamn.

2. Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964)
Mississippi Freedom was a movement to try and get as many black Mississippians as possible to register to vote. Mississippi had the lowest number of registered black voters of any US State, at just 6.7%. The overall effect of the Freedom Summer was a positive one, although it did not run smoothly. The State remained deeply divided on racial issues, an overhang from the Confederacy and the Civil War and was a major base for the Ku Klux Klan. Over the course of the summer, 4 civil rights activists were murdered along with three more black supporters of the cause, in addition to church, house and business burnings, physical attacks and nearly 2000 arrests.

3. Hurricane Camille (17th August 1969)
The Category 5 Hurricane Camille was one of only three storms of that magnitude to make landfall in the United States in the 20th Century. It arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi River on the night of 17th August, with winds gusting up to 190 miles per hour. Combined with heavy rainfall and widespread flooding, virtually everything along the coastal border of Mississippi was completely destroyed. 259 people died and the total cost of the hurricane's damage was $1.42 billion (modern equivalent: $8.51 billion).

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