In January 2019, we traveled across the Mississippi Delta. In Mississippi, we visited Greenville, Indianola, Cleveland, Moorhead, and Drew and in Louisiana, we visited Tallulah and Lake Providence. Since 2000, the overall population has declined by one-fifth across the Mississippi Delta, with the white population declining the most—by over one-third.
This is an economically depressed region, with unemployment high at over 18 percent, and particularly high among the black population, with nearly 1 in 4 out of work. There are wide gaps in earnings by race with blacks earning approximately $13,000 less than whites in Sunflower and Washington counties in Mississippi. In East Carroll Parish of Louisiana, the wage gap between white and black people is nearly $18,000. The Delta could face a skills gap if it does not increase educational attainment for all residents. Delta communities are deeply segregated with different races and ethnicities largely living in different parts of the city creating instances where white people may not interact with black people at all. In the Delta, we hosted individual interviews across the region; small group discussions in Lake Providence, LA, and Greenville and Cleveland, MS; and a large community listening session in Tallulah, LA. We visited the Sunflower Freedom Project to talk with youth. In Greenville, MS, we conducted two focus groups of non-college-educated black and white residents from across the region. Learn more by reading the full report.