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DATE 2015-01-01

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DATE 2015-01-16
FROM einker
SUBJECT Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] The Atlantic - How White Flight Ravaged the Mississippi Delta
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Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] The Atlantic - How White Flight Ravaged the Mississippi Delta
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For generations, plantation owners strove to keep black laborers on the
farm and competing businesses out of town. Today, the towns faring best are
the ones whose white residents stayed to reckon with their own history.
------------------------------

*By Alan Huffman *

January 6, 2015

In the Mississippi Delta town of Tchula, there=E2=80=99s a fading columned =
mansion
that once belonged to Sara Virginia Jones, the daughter of a local
plantation dynasty. Its walls were lined with nearly 400 works by artists
as prominent as Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Salvador
Dali, and Andy Warhol.


Then, in the 1990s, the house changed hands. Today, it is filled with
framed photos of the current owner=E2=80=94Tchula=E2=80=99s controversial f=
irst black
mayor, Eddie Carthan, who was in office from 1977 to 1981=E2=80=94posing wi=
th U.S.
presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama and the Nation of Islam=E2=80=99s Lou=
is
Farrakhan.


The irony of this set change is not lost on Carthan, who, as he puts it,
went =E2=80=9Cfrom being a second-class citizen to staying in a house where=
the
slave-owners used to live.=E2=80=9D Carthan grew up in a shack outside Tchu=
la, on
property his family purchased in the 1930s as part of a New Deal project
. The land was located on a
former plantation, which the government bought and divided among several
black tenants. His community became a relatively safe haven for African
Americans and later formed an important staging ground during the
civil-rights era.


When Carthan was a young boy, he says he=E2=80=99d have risked punishment f=
or
simply walking past the Jones mansion without a proper reason. =E2=80=9CI l=
ook at
the house now, how beautiful it is and well-built it is. I was told slaves
built it,=E2=80=9D Carthan said, sitting at his desk in the central hall,
surrounded by his political memorabilia. =E2=80=9CAnd I think about how wel=
l they
lived back then, and how we lived back then. This house is huge. There are
five bedrooms. It has three full bathrooms. We didn=E2=80=99t have bathroom=
s at
all.=E2=80=9D He pauses to let the contrast sink in. =E2=80=9CIt=E2=80=99s =
something to focus on,=E2=80=9D
he says.


But as the mansion=E2=80=99s flaking paint makes clear, the transformation =
was
about a transfer of local power, not wealth. Families like the Joneses have
long since left Tchula, taking their business and money with them. The
remaining community is 97 percent black and achingly poor.


In the Delta flatlands and the hillier country to the east, the landscape
is dotted with towns and cities that figured prominently in the
civil-rights era. Like Tchula, many of those places are now languishing.

Greenwood, 80 miles north of Tchula, was one of the main organizing bases
for voter registration during the 1964 Freedom Summer. For a while, the
town=E2=80=99s fortunes seemed to improve, especially after a large Viking =
Range
manufacturing facility opened there in 1990. But Viking was sold in 2012
and the new owners laid off a large part of the local workforce. Today, the
town is two-thirds black and, in important ways, still deeply segregated.
Most of the white students go to private academies
egation-academies-are-still-going-strong/266207/>
while black students attend public schools, and its residential areas are
divided between two extremes: the leafy boulevards of the affluent white
section and the historically poor, black Baptist Town, which is so little
changed that it stood in for a 1960s Jackson neighborhood in the movie *The
Help *.


Among the key towns of the civil-rights era, those with the largest black
majorities are frequently in the most economic trouble.


Nearby Clarksdale, where Martin Luther King held the first major meeting of
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1958, dwindled in
population beginning in the 1970s. It underwent a brief renaissance in 1995
after its former resident Morgan Freeman opened an upscale restaurant and
the Ground Zero Blues Club next to Clarksdale=E2=80=99s storied blues museu=
m. But
the restaurant has since closed and entire blocks of the downtown area
currently stand abandoned.


As for Tchula, it=E2=80=99s currently listed as the fifth-poorest town in t=
he
nation with a population of more than 1,000. Its last two industries=E2=80=
=94a
sawmill and an apparel factory=E2=80=94closed long ago, and more than 15 pe=
rcent of
its residents are unemployed. Carthan said he has sought help from
foundations and state and federal agencies, but his proposals for economic
development projects have all been rejected.

=E2=80=9CBusinesses don=E2=80=99t want to come to a town like Tchula,=E2=80=
=9D observed Anthony
Mansoor, who owns a hardware store downtown. =E2=80=9CThat bothers me. The =
people
in this town worked so hard to get to where we are today, and in a lot of
ways, things are better. But the town is broke. That=E2=80=99s the bottom l=
ine.=E2=80=9D


The situation is impossible to ignore: Among the key towns of the
civil-rights era, those with the largest black majorities are frequently in
the most economic trouble.

=E2=80=9CThe richest land this side of the valley Nile!=E2=80=9D The plant=
ation owner Big
Daddy Pollitt used those words to describe the Mississippi Delta in
Tennessee Williams=E2=80=99 play *Cat on a Hot Tin Roof*. The fertile soils
stretching from near Memphis to Vicksburg along the Mississippi River once
supported a lucrative cotton economy; before the Civil War, the city of
Natchez, farther south along the river, had more millionaires per capita
than any other city in the U.S.

After emancipation, plantation owners relied upon sharecroppers to grow and
harvest their crops. To keep the system in place, white leaders studiously
kept out industries that might lure their laborers away from agriculture,
as historian James Cobb reported in his seminal book about the Delta, *The
Most Southern Place on Earth
780195089134?cc=3Dus&lang=3Den&134?cc>*
.


Carthan saw that resistance firsthand. In Tchula, he said, =E2=80=9CWe coul=
dn=E2=80=99t get
factories=E2=80=94the power structure would block it. They didn=E2=80=99t w=
ant folks
leaving the plantations.=E2=80=9D

State Senator David Jordan, who grew up in Greenwood, observes that
employment opportunities in the Delta have always been tightly interwoven
with politics and race. His family lived and worked as field laborers on
one of several plantations owned by the family of U.S. Representative Will
Whittington, and the school year ran from December to April to enable
children to help with the crops. As a teenager, Jordan worked at a
white-owned store, where his tasks included learning the types and brands
of various illegal liquors. (Mississippi remained a dry state for more than
30 years after Prohibition was repealed.) Once, Jordan said, a customer
asked the store owner, =E2=80=9C=E2=80=98What you educatin=E2=80=99 that ni=
gger for? I need him for
a tractor driver.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D


=E2=80=9CWe just accepted it,=E2=80=9D said Jordan, who graduated from hig=
h school with
Morgan Freeman in the 1950s and went on to attend Mississippi Valley State
University. =E2=80=9CWasn=E2=80=99t anything we could do about it.=E2=80=9D

In those days, the Delta=E2=80=99s plantations were plowed by mules, cultiv=
ated by
workers with hoes, and harvested by hand. After farming became increasingly
mechanized in the 1960s, local workers had little to do, and no new jobs
were available to fill the void. Jordan said the loss of even the most
basic plantation labor helped the civil-rights movement gain traction in
the Delta.

=E2=80=9CField hands were being replaced,=E2=80=9D he said. =E2=80=9CThey w=
ere being paid $9 a day,
and they paid $20 a month in rent, but when the cotton picker came, there
was less work. People had no other trade. They got laid off, and the
landowners pushed the shanties down, and those people had nowhere to go.
There was a lot of dissatisfaction.=E2=80=9D


Dissatisfaction was nothing new in the Mississippi Delta; this was, after
all, the birthplace of the Blues. But when the plantation jobs disappeared
and no new industries rose to take their place, the dissatisfaction turned
into desperation. Many blacks migrated to Northern cities like Chicago, but
Jordan refused to budge. =E2=80=9CI said, =E2=80=98I=E2=80=99ll never leave=
Mississippi. I=E2=80=99m gonna
do something=E2=80=94I=E2=80=99m gonna get even some kind of way.=E2=80=99=
=E2=80=9D Jordan eventually sued
the city of Greenwood, forcing it to adopt a more representative system of
government. After that, he was elected to the city council and then to the
state legislature.


Throughout Freedom Summer, these activists ran into fierce resistance from
white business leaders. Mansoor, who was born in Honduras of Lebanese
descent and arrived in Mississippi as an exchange student in the 1950s,
recalled that blacks who took part in the voter registration drives were
often fired from their jobs or denied credit at stores and banks.


Whites who opposed segregation were likewise targeted. Hazel Brannon Smith,
then the fiery publisher of *The Lexington Advertiser*, editorialized
against the segregationist white Citizens=E2=80=99 Council in 1964. In the =
process,
she said, her offices were =E2=80=9Cbombed, burned and boycotted,=E2=80=9D =
and she was
later bankrupted by a rival Citizens Council-backed newspaper.


=E2=80=9CMy life had always been comfortable in Lexington,=E2=80=9D Smith w=
rote in an
editorial
published in 1984, on the 20th anniversary of Freedom Summer. =E2=80=9CMy t=
wo
papers in Holmes County were paid for. I wore good clothes, and drove a
Cadillac convertible. I went to Europe on vacation for four months and had
more money in my bank account when I returned than I did when I left. But
the boycott and the hate campaign wore my business down. The Council-backed
newspaper depleted my advertising revenues, and I fell into deep debt.=E2=
=80=9D


Mansoor=E2=80=99s business suffered after 1967, when one of his Tchula stor=
es was
the setting for a showdown between the Ku Klux Klan and a black activist
named Edgar Love. According to Love=E2=80=99s account
ce=3Dgbs_ge_summary_r&cad=3D0#v=3Donepage&q&f=3Dfalse>
in the book *Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of
1960s Mississippi*, Klan members cornered him on a dark street and pursued
him into the store. Love hid behind a counter and drew his pistol, and when
the first Klansman entered, Love trained his gun on him. Other Klansmen
followed and began turning over counters and racks, =E2=80=9Cjust demolishi=
ng the
store,=E2=80=9D says Mansoor, who remembers telling his pregnant wife to ru=
n home.
=E2=80=9CI called the sheriff=E2=80=94his name was Andrew Smith=E2=80=94and=
he said, =E2=80=98There=E2=80=99s
nothing I can do about it.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D The standoff ended when Love t=
urned himself
over to a trusted white police officer who took him to jail in Lexington,
the county seat, =E2=80=9Cfor protection,=E2=80=9D Mansoor said.

Love was later released, and Mansoor took some of the Klansmen to court for
demolishing his store. He lost the case and his defense of the activist led
to a boycott of his business. The bad feelings persisted for decades:
Twenty years later, when his store caught fire, arson was suspected though
never proven. =E2=80=9CMy wife wanted to move to California,=E2=80=9D he re=
called. =E2=80=9CBut I
said, =E2=80=98No way I=E2=80=99m going to let them drive me away.=E2=80=99=
=E2=80=9D


In the early years of the civil-rights era, most of Tchula=E2=80=99s white
residents remained, including Sarah Virginia Jones, who was described in a
Memphis *Commercial Appeal *article as a member of =E2=80=9Cthe leading fam=
ily of
Tchula.=E2=80=9D She operated Refuge plantation with her brother and lived =
out her
life in the mansion, even after her neighborhood became racially mixed.
Jones was known for her garden-club work, her civic and beautification
projects, the parties she hosted for high school seniors, and the artwork,
which covered every eye-level wall space in her home. (She acquired most of
it from a New Orleans art dealer, a Tchula native who regularly visited her
home to offer pieces for her review.)


Throughout the 1970s, the *Holmes County Herald* gave ample space to white
society news, down to minute details like the time Jones went shopping
in Memphis with a friend. There was
little mention of life on the black side of town.

But if they lacked social clout, black residents were gaining political
power. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the accompanying
voter-registration drives, blacks comprised the majority of the electorate
in many Mississippi towns and counties. In 1967, Robert Clark became the
state=E2=80=99s first black state representative since the Reconstruction e=
ra, and
over the decade that followed, black politicians were elected into more and
more local leadership positions.


When Carthan became mayor in 1977, one of his primary goals, he says, was
to =E2=80=9Cbring the other side up.=E2=80=9D =E2=80=9CTchula was like most=
southern towns, with
the whites on one side and blacks on the other,=E2=80=9D he recalls. =E2=80=
=9COn the white
side, where I am now, there were sidewalks, manicured lawns and beautiful
homes like this one. But on the other side was dirt roads, shacks, and 75
percent of the houses had no plumbing.=E2=80=9D


Carthan and the board of aldermen set about getting federal grants to make
much-needed improvements: =E2=80=9CPut in a sewer system, one of the first =
day-care
centers in the state, paved streets, built houses and a free clinic,
started a transportation system and a feeding program for the elderly.=E2=
=80=9D
These changes were a boon to Tchula=E2=80=99s poorer residents, but they pr=
oduced
few jobs. For the most part, black residents were left to grapple with an
economic system that had been designed specifically to keep them in
low-wage agricultural jobs.


White residents continued to control most of the town=E2=80=99s wealth and =
business
connections, and Carthan says they =E2=80=9Cdidn=E2=80=99t take kindly=E2=
=80=9D to his efforts:
=E2=80=9CTchula=E2=80=99s a plantation town, and they just rejected me.=E2=
=80=9D

Carthan=E2=80=99s detractors often say that the town=E2=80=99s troubles are=
directly linked
to his tenure as mayor, but he claims that white residents launched an
elaborate campaign against him. =E2=80=9CI stayed in court the entire time =
I was in
office. They were accustomed to blacks who=E2=80=99d bow, say =E2=80=98yes-=
sir, boss,=E2=80=99 that
sort of thing.=E2=80=9D


Throughout his tenure, the *Herald* frequently ran front-page stories about
his political and legal troubles, which were legion. He feuded with the
former mayor, who was white, and with the then-biracial board of aldermen.
In 1980, the aldermen tried to replace the black police chief Carthan had
appointed with a white one. There was an altercation at City Hall, and
Carthan was charged with assault. In April 1981, he was forced to leave
office.

Two months after his resignation, Carthan was charged with allegedly hiring
two hit men to murder one of his political rivals, Alderman Roosevelt
Granderson. Though Granderson was black, Carthan=E2=80=94who defended
himself=E2=80=94argued that the charges were racially motivated, that he wa=
s being
framed by whites. Black farmers raised $115,000 for his bail and the actor
and playwright Ossie Davis traveled to 66 cities to proclaim his innocence.

Carthan was acquitted of murder in 1982 but returned to jail on charges
stemming from the 1980 fight at City Hall. A 1986 NBC segment
about Carthan=E2=80=99s trials noted that he wa=
s seen
by his opponents as =E2=80=9Ca conniving troublemaker=E2=80=9D and by his s=
upporters as =E2=80=9Ca
folk hero.=E2=80=9D The local district attorney, Frank Carlton, acknowledge=
d on
camera that he had struck a deal with Granderson=E2=80=99s alleged murderer=
s: After
serving two years in prison, the two men claimed that Carthan had hired
them to do the job. Carlton offered to drop the charges against them if
they would testify against Carthan in court.


=E2=80=9CWhites felt threatened. People don=E2=80=99t want to come where th=
ere=E2=80=99s division
and conflict and animosity.=E2=80=9D


By the time Carthan=E2=80=99s legal battles were over, Tchula=E2=80=99s whi=
te population
had dwindled away to almost nothing. =E2=80=9CWhites felt threatened,=E2=80=
=9D he says. And
new businesses didn=E2=80=99t want to fill the void: =E2=80=9CPeople don=E2=
=80=99t want to come
where there=E2=80=99s division and conflict and animosity.=E2=80=9D The gro=
wing sense of
desperation brought an increase in drug use and a corresponding uptick in
crime, which led even Mansoor and his wife to move to a Jackson suburb,
though he continues to commute an hour each way to operate his hardware
store.


Today, Carthan=E2=80=99s vision for Tchula has partially come to pass. The =
town of
about 2,000 residents is governed entirely by black elected officials, and
every house has running water. No one in Tchula gets fired from their jobs
or is denied credit for upsetting the status quo, as happened frequently
during the civil-rights era. The problem is, few people have jobs. Where
local workers once harvested cotton or drove tractors on white-owned
plantations, or toiled in the local sawmill or coat factory, there is today
no visible means of economic support. Dwindling government grants and long
commutes to jobs elsewhere are all that=E2=80=99s left.

Carthan makes no secret of his disdain for whites who decamped for other
locales, as well as those who continue to avoid moving their businesses to
black-majority towns. But he also blames the current, majority-black
population. =E2=80=9CThree or four generations of people raised on
welfare=E2=80=94everybody knows the problem,=E2=80=9D he said. =E2=80=9CSin=
gle-family homes,
drug-infested neighborhoods, the youth always on social media, exposed to
everything. Ear rings, nose rings, lip rings, baggy pants. I=E2=80=99d expe=
ct
they=E2=80=99d show some appreciation, but a lot of them don=E2=80=99t know=
their history.
That=E2=80=99s a challenge. It=E2=80=99s very difficult for the teachers to=
even teach
school. They=E2=80=99re rebellious. They have the freedom, the resources. T=
hey
don=E2=80=99t have the restraints we had in the =E2=80=9960s.=E2=80=9D He s=
hakes his head. =E2=80=9CWhat
goes around comes around. We=E2=80=99ve come a long ways, but we=E2=80=99ve=
got a long ways
to go.=E2=80=9D


Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price watches protesters pass through
Philadelphia, Mississippi, on June 21, 1965, during a memorial for the
three civil-rights workers who had been murdered one year earlier. Price
was later charged with conspiracy to violate the workers=E2=80=99 civil rig=
hts and
served four years in prison. (AP)


Eighty miles to the southeast, the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi,
stands in stark contrast with Tchula. Philadelphia was the site of Freedom
Summer=E2=80=99s most brutal event: On June 21, 1964, three young civil rig=
hts
workers were killed by Klansmen after being apprehended by local
law-enforcement officials. James Earl Chaney, a black man from nearby
Meridian, was beaten and shot three times; two Jewish New Yorkers, Andrew
Goodman and Michael =E2=80=9CMickey=E2=80=9D Schwerner, were shot through t=
he heart. All
three bodies were discovered two months later, buried in an earthen dam.


But after decades of public notoriety and internal strife, Philadelphia has
become one of the most successful towns in the region. The economy is
diverse, drawing on a mix of farming, manufacturing, forestry, and service
industries, with the added boon of a nearby Choctaw Indian casino. The
county has also set up an enterprise incubator to provide office,
manufacturing, and warehouse space to startup businesses.

James Young, the town=E2=80=99s black mayor, says this economic expansion w=
as
possible only because white residents faced the shame of their past.
=E2=80=9CPeople didn=E2=80=99t turn away,=E2=80=9D Young said. =E2=80=9CThe=
y didn=E2=80=99t move away.=E2=80=9D

The self-examination didn=E2=80=99t start immediately. =E2=80=9CDuring that=
season when the
civil rights workers were missing, there was heavy tension in the air, a
lot of frustration and disbelief,=E2=80=9D recalled Young, who was a child =
at the
time. =E2=80=9CIt sent shockwaves through the community that no one was saf=
e. I
remember lying on the floor of our living room with my father and a gun.=E2=
=80=9D


Philadelphia=E2=80=99s prominent white families were chagrined by the way t=
heir
city and county were being portrayed by the media. In particular, one
December 1964 article
f>,
written by *New York Times* reporter (and later executive editor) Joseph
Lelyveld, reported negatively on the city=E2=80=99s =E2=80=9Cbusiness class=
=E2=80=9D and its
reaction to the murders.


Former Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus was 14 at the time, and
he remembers that his father invited the *Times*=E2=80=99s editor, a Philad=
elphia
native named Turner Catledge, to meet with the local businesses community.
Influential locals turned out from the hospital, the newspaper, the lumber
industry, and the glove factory. =E2=80=9CThe Klan and the Citizens Council=
were
essentially running the county,=E2=80=9D Molpus recalled. =E2=80=9CThe ques=
tion was, where
was the white leadership?=E2=80=9D

As in Tchula, whites who supported integration were being openly targeted.
=E2=80=9CThey threatened to burn my father=E2=80=99s lumber mill down if he=
didn=E2=80=99t fire a
list of employees they gave him who had gone to NAACP meetings,=E2=80=9D sa=
id
Molpus. =E2=80=9CBut he hired three guys with deer rifles who were as bad a=
s they
were to stand watch, and they didn=E2=80=99t burn him out.=E2=80=9D


Catledge had met with President Lyndon Johnson the night before the meeting
in Philadelphia. Molpus remembers sitting on the floor next to the visiting
editor: =E2=80=9CHe was drinking scotch, and now and then he=E2=80=99d hold=
his glass down
and tinkle it around and I=E2=80=99d take it to my mother to make him anoth=
er.=E2=80=9D


Throughout the evening, the group=E2=80=99s grievances centered more on the=
town=E2=80=99s
negative portrayal than on the murders themselves. =E2=80=9CThe business gu=
ys were
furious,=E2=80=9D Molpus said. =E2=80=9CThey wanted him to get rid of Lelyv=
eld. We=E2=80=99d had
churches burned, homes burned, a guy got his skull broke, there were three
kidnapped, and the discussion in the business class was just about how the
press is making us look like hicks.=E2=80=9D After listening to their compl=
aints,
Catledge turned the discussion back to the larger issues. He told the local
leaders, =E2=80=9C=E2=80=98There=E2=80=99s a moment in your life to step up=
and demand this stop,=E2=80=99
which offended everyone in there. Somebody said, =E2=80=98You=E2=80=99re fr=
om here, Turner,
but you=E2=80=99re not one of us anymore.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D


=E2=80=9CWe=E2=80=99d had churches burned, homes burned, a guy got his skul=
l broke, and the
discussion in the business class was just about how the press is making us
look like hicks.=E2=80=9D


Another moment of reckoning came in August 1965, when a local white woman
named Florence Mars was pulled over on her way home from a party. As Molpus
put it, Mars was =E2=80=9Ca very outspoken, courageous woman from a well-th=
ought-of
family=E2=80=94a very gutsy woman=E2=80=9D who supported Martin Luther King=
and the
protesters who marched with him through town. When she and her sister were
stopped on the road, Mars had reportedly had too much to drink.

=E2=80=9CThe way things were done then, when someone like her was pulled ov=
er,
they=E2=80=99d let her go,=E2=80=9D Molpus said. =E2=80=9CBut they threw he=
r and her sister into
the drunk tank. And the community got together on a Sunday night and said,
=E2=80=98This has got to stop,=E2=80=99 and it did stop. It took something =
happening to one
of their own, from a prominent family.=E2=80=9D


Even then, there was a lingering sense of denial about the civil rights
murders. =E2=80=9CPreachers were saying of the civil rights workers, =E2=
=80=98They came
looking for trouble, and they found it.=E2=80=99 I heard that from the pulp=
it of
the First Baptist Church,=E2=80=9D Molpus said. =E2=80=9CThe murderers were=
in control.
They were still in law enforcement. These were killers.=E2=80=9D Even state
officials refused to prosecute. In 1967, seven men were convicted in
federal court and sent to prison, but the longest any served was six years.


Over time, Molpus said, the white community became more circumspect about
the crime and what it meant for the future of the city. When federal
court-ordered school integration came during the 1969=E2=80=9370 school yea=
r,
Philadelphia chose not to establish all-white private academies as other
nearby towns and cities had done. =E2=80=9CI think the people had examined =
their
souls, really, and the decision was made to keep the schools integrated,=E2=
=80=9D
Molpus said. Louisville, 30 miles down the road, was culturally and
economically similar to Philadelphia, but its white residents decided to
send their children to private academies, Molpus said. Today, Louisville is
economically depressed.


Molpus partly credits the crusading editor of the *Neshoba Democrat*,
Stanley Dearman, for helping change Philadelphia=E2=80=99s outlook. In the =
late
1980s, he ran a series of articles that humanized Chaney, Goodman, and
Schwerner, the three men killed by Klansmen in 1964, for local residents.
=E2=80=9CHe went to New York City and sat down with Dr. Goodman. She told h=
im about
her son sending her a postcard saying people were friendly in Philadelphia,
the day before he was killed.=E2=80=9D


Then, in 1989, Molpus and Dearman decided to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of the murders by holding a memorial at Mt. Zion Church, which
had been used as a voter registration site during Freedom Summer. The
building had been torched by the Klan, and the three civil rights workers
had been returning from it at the time of their murder. The families of the
three murdered men attended the gathering in 1989, along with a crowd of
several hundred=E2=80=94including Molpus, who apologized for what happened =
on
behalf of the state.


In 2000, Philadelphia held a multi-racial leadership conference, where
Molpus was keynote speaker. =E2=80=9CI said until we remove this shadow or =
at least
attempt redemption, nothing is going to happen. They wanted an industrial
park, to plant roses at the visitors center. I said we=E2=80=99re known for=
one
thing: as the place where these three kids were killed for doing a
patriotic duty.=E2=80=9D


In 2004, Dearman invited Carolyn Goodman to speak to the Philadelphia
Coalition, an interracial group cofounded by the *Democrat*=E2=80=99s new e=
ditor,
Jim Prince, and the head of the Neshoba County NAACP, Leroy Clemons.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood attended and listened to Goodman=E2=
=80=99s
moving personal account. The following year, he reopened the case and Edgar
Ray Killen, the 80-year-old Baptist preacher who had orchestrated the
murders, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60
years in prison.


In 2009, when the majority-white electorate voted in Young as
Philadelphia=E2=80=99s first black mayor, national news outlets reported
=3Drss_us>
that the town had finally risen above its history. Young was invited to the
White House for Christmas that year, and then to a meeting with Vice
President Joe Biden. And in 2010, he received a civil rights award from
CORE, the Congress On Racial Equality, which was one of the organizers of
Freedom Summer. Because he was only a child during Freedom Summer, Young
asked the group why he was given the award. =E2=80=9CThey said to think of =
Goodman,
Chaney and Schwerner: =E2=80=98You=E2=80=99re the manifestation of their ef=
fort.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D

Today, unemployment in Philadelphia is lower than in most Mississippi
cities (5.8 percent as of December 2013, compared to 7.3 percent statewide)
and its per capita income is higher. Its schools are strong, despite the
fact that Philadelphia is as geographically isolated as Tchula, located
about 50 miles from the nearest interstate highway. Along with its other
industries, the town is benefitting from a new influx of tourism. =E2=80=9C=
The
chamber of commerce now does civil rights tours,=E2=80=9D Young said. =E2=
=80=9CThey=E2=80=99ve got
a little brochure. We=E2=80=99ve had people come from London, South America=
,
Australia.=E2=80=9D


Still, Philadelphia is exceptional among Mississippi=E2=80=99s former civil=
-rights
battlegrounds. The state as a whole has more black elected officials than
any other, but the ongoing segregation and economic decline in so many
places is evidence of persistent, deep-seated problems.


=E2=80=9CBusinesses are not going to go to a place where there are not stro=
ng
public schools,=E2=80=9D Molpus said. =E2=80=9CThat says the community is i=
ll. If the poor
are in public schools and the affluent go to private, that community is
ill. The public schools in virtually every town in the Delta were abandoned
by the whites. That will take decades to fix=E2=80=94it=E2=80=99s a histori=
cal legacy. The
poverty cycle hasn=E2=80=99t been broken.=E2=80=9D

When Eddie Carthan bought the Jones mansion in the late 1990s, the house
had been sitting vacant for years and its legendary artwork had been moved
to the Mississippi Museum of Art. He also bought the formerly white church
across the street, whose congregation, he says, refused to speak to him
when he showed up, unbidden, one Sunday after his election as mayor. Now
he=E2=80=99s the pastor of that church, which is all black.

On a recent afternoon, as Carthan ruminated about the future of Tchula at
his desk, his wife, Shirley, tutored a group of young girls at the
mansion=E2=80=99s long dining room table. The girls were members of the chu=
rch
Carthan pastors; only two of the congregation=E2=80=99s adult members have =
jobs.
=E2=80=9CThey=E2=80=99re the poorest of the poor,=E2=80=9D Carthan said.


Carthan also owns a century-old, formerly white-owned hardware store that
anchors the downtown. Business is typically slow there, and most of his
wares are covered in dust. There is more activity in Mansoor=E2=80=99s stor=
e,
though much of it centers on the free doughnuts he provides each day to the
city=E2=80=99s seniors. Though he now lives an hour away, Mansoor said he r=
efuses
to give up on Tchula. =E2=80=9CFor the most part, it=E2=80=99s better in Mi=
ssissippi than a
lot of places,=E2=80=9D he said. =E2=80=9CPeople know each other. They try =
to get along.
People change.=E2=80=9D


As evidence of the latter, Mansoor recalled an episode involving one of the
Klansmen who demolished his store. After he died, Mansoor said, =E2=80=9Chi=
s mother
reached out to me and I took care of her for years. I=E2=80=99d go by and s=
ee about
her, pick up her groceries. She=E2=80=99d cook me the best biscuits and sau=
sage,
and when she died she left me an old Ford car and a .38-calibre pistol. It
was amazing. She wanted to be friends to make up for what they did.=E2=80=
=9D

But such changes of heart have done little to improve Tchula=E2=80=99s econ=
omic
fortunes. The majority of white residents fled town without making amends
or doing anything to reverse the decades of economic oppression. For that
reason, Tchula, unlike Philadelphia, must rely heavily on outside
assistance.


Near Mansoor=E2=80=99s store on a recent morning, unemployed men lingered u=
nder
shade trees behind the modest town hall, where Zula Patterson, the current
mayor, was preparing to attend the ribbon cutting for two federally
subsidized low-income houses. According to Patterson, such grants are few
and far between. Asked what the town needs most, she replied, =E2=80=9CWhat=
do we
need? We need everything. But now we need police cars foremost. Our streets
need to be redone. We need to try to find somebody to open some businesses.
Nobody is really coming in until we get our infrastructure improved.=E2=80=
=9D


Meanwhile, the subsidized houses represent the first new construction in a
long time. They might not seem like much, but as Patterson said, =E2=80=9CW=
e=E2=80=99re
trying to make things better. We=E2=80=99re doing what we can.=E2=80=9D

*Alan Huffman is a freelance writer and the author of five books, most
recently Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer
3>.
*


Regards,

Evan M. Inker

--001a113ebfd8093a3d050cc8c9f3
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable



For generations, plantation
owners strove to keep black laborers on the farm and competing businesses o=
ut
of town. Today, the towns faring best are the ones whose white residents st=
ayed
to reckon with their own history.



style>






By
>Alan
Huffman



January 6, 2015ri","sans-serif"">



In the Mississippi Delta town
of Tchula, there=E2=80=99s a fading columned mansion that once belonged to =
Sara
Virginia Jones, the daughter of a local plantation dynasty. Its walls were
lined with nearly 400 works by artists as prominent as Paul Cezanne, Marc
Chagall, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol.

<=
p class=3D"MsoNormal" style>



Then, in the 1990s, the house
changed hands. Today, it is filled with framed photos of the current
owner=E2=80=94Tchula=E2=80=99s controversial first black mayor, Eddie Carth=
an, who was in
office from 1977 to 1981=E2=80=94posing with U.S. presidents Carter, Clinto=
n, and Obama
and the Nation of Islam=E2=80=99s Louis Farrakhan.

oNormal" style>



The irony of this set change
is not lost on Carthan, who, as he puts it, went =E2=80=9Cfrom being a seco=
nd-class
citizen to staying in a house where the slave-owners used to live.=E2=80=9D=
Carthan
grew up in a shack outside Tchula, on property his family purchased in the
1930s as part of a >New
Deal project
. The land was located on a former plantation, which the
government bought and divided among several black tenants. His community be=
came
a relatively safe haven for African Americans and later formed an important
staging ground during the civil-rights era.

" style>



When Carthan was a young boy,
he says he=E2=80=99d have risked punishment for simply walking past the Jon=
es mansion
without a proper reason. =E2=80=9CI look at the house now, how beautiful it=
is and
well-built it is. I was told slaves built it,=E2=80=9D Carthan said, sittin=
g at his
desk in the central hall, surrounded by his political memorabilia. =E2=80=
=9CAnd I think
about how well they lived back then, and how we lived back then. This house=
is
huge. There are five bedrooms. It has three full bathrooms. We didn=E2=80=
=99t have
bathrooms at all.=E2=80=9D He pauses to let the contrast sink in. =E2=80=9C=
It=E2=80=99s something to
focus on,=E2=80=9D he says.

yle>



But as the mansion=E2=80=99s flaki=
ng
paint makes clear, the transformation was about a transfer of local power, =
not
wealth. Families like the Joneses have long since left Tchula, taking their
business and money with them. The remaining community is 97 percent black a=
nd
achingly poor.


n>



In the Delta flatlands and
the hillier country to the east, the landscape is dotted with towns and cit=
ies
that figured prominently in the civil-rights era. Like Tchula, many of thos=
e
places are now languishing.



Greenwood, 80 miles north of
Tchula, was one of the main organizing bases for voter registration during =
the
1964 Freedom Summer. For a while, the town=E2=80=99s fortunes seemed to imp=
rove,
especially after a large Viking Range manufacturing facility opened there i=
n
1990. But Viking was sold in 2012 and the new owners laid off a large part =
of
the local workforce. Today, the town is two-thirds black and, in important
ways, still deeply segregated. Most of the white students go to http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/in-southern-towns-segre=
gation-academies-are-still-going-strong/266207/">private
academies
while black students attend public schools, and its residenti=
al
areas are divided between two extremes: the leafy boulevards of the affluen=
t
white section and the historically poor, black Baptist Town, which is so li=
ttle
changed that it stood in for a 1960s Jackson neighborhood in the movie <=
a href=3D"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DCLDiS=3DWgFrs">The Help
=
.




Among
the key towns of the civil-rights era, those with the largest black majorit=
ies
are frequently in the most economic trouble.

l">



Nearby Clarksdale, where
Martin Luther King held the first major meeting of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference in 1958, dwindled in population beginning in the 1970=
s.
It underwent a brief renaissance in 1995 after its former resident Morgan
Freeman opened an upscale restaurant and the Ground Zero Blues Club next to
Clarksdale=E2=80=99s storied blues museum. But the restaurant has since clo=
sed and
entire blocks of the downtown area currently stand abandoned.

class=3D"MsoNormal" style>



As for Tchula, it=E2=80=99s curren=
tly
listed as the fifth-poorest town in the nation with a population of more th=
an
1,000. Its last two industries=E2=80=94a sawmill and an apparel factory=E2=
=80=94closed long
ago, and more than 15 percent of its residents are unemployed. Carthan said=
he
has sought help from foundations and state and federal agencies, but his pr=
oposals
for economic development projects have all been rejected.



=E2=80=9CBusinesses don=E2=80=99t =
want to
come to a town like Tchula,=E2=80=9D observed Anthony Mansoor, who owns a h=
ardware
store downtown. =E2=80=9CThat bothers me. The people in this town worked so=
hard to get
to where we are today, and in a lot of ways, things are better. But the tow=
n is
broke. That=E2=80=99s the bottom line.=E2=80=9D

rmal" style>



The situation is impossible
to ignore: Among the key towns of the civil-rights era, those with the larg=
est
black majorities are frequently in the most economic trouble.



=C2=A0=E2=80=9C=
The richest land this side of the valley
Nile!=E2=80=9D The plantation owner Big Daddy Pollitt used those words to d=
escribe the
Mississippi Delta in Tennessee Williams=E2=80=99 play Cat on a Hot Tin R=
oof
. The
fertile soils stretching from near Memphis to Vicksburg along the Mississip=
pi
River once supported a lucrative cotton economy; before the Civil War, the =
city
of Natchez, farther south along the river, had more millionaires per capita
than any other city in the U.S.



After emancipation,
plantation owners relied upon sharecroppers to grow and harvest their crops=
. To
keep the system in place, white leaders studiously kept out industries that
might lure their laborers away from agriculture, as historian James Cobb
reported in his seminal book about the Delta, oup.com/academic/product/the-most-southern-place-on-earth-9780195089134?cc=
=3Dus&lang=3Den&134?cc">The
Most Southern Place on Earth
.

e>



Carthan saw that resistance
firsthand. In Tchula, he said, =E2=80=9CWe couldn=E2=80=99t get factories=
=E2=80=94the power structure
would block it. They didn=E2=80=99t want folks leaving the plantations.=E2=
=80=9D



State Senator David Jordan,
who grew up in Greenwood, observes that employment opportunities in the Del=
ta
have always been tightly interwoven with politics and race. His family live=
d
and worked as field laborers on one of several plantations owned by the fam=
ily
of U.S. Representative Will Whittington, and the school year ran from Decem=
ber
to April to enable children to help with the crops. As a teenager, Jordan
worked at a white-owned store, where his tasks included learning the types =
and
brands of various illegal liquors. (Mississippi remained a dry state for mo=
re
than 30 years after Prohibition was repealed.) Once, Jordan said, a custome=
r
asked the store owner, =E2=80=9C=E2=80=98What you educatin=E2=80=99 that ni=
gger for? I need him for a
tractor driver.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D

pan style>



=C2=A0=E2=80=9C=
We just accepted it,=E2=80=9D said Jordan, who
graduated from high school with Morgan Freeman in the 1950s and went on to
attend Mississippi Valley State University. =E2=80=9CWasn=E2=80=99t anythin=
g we could do about
it.=E2=80=9D



In those days, the Delta=E2=80=99s
plantations were plowed by mules, cultivated by workers with hoes, and
harvested by hand. After farming became increasingly mechanized in the 1960=
s,
local workers had little to do, and no new jobs were available to fill the
void. Jordan said the loss of even the most basic plantation labor helped t=
he
civil-rights movement gain traction in the Delta.



=E2=80=9CField hands were being
replaced,=E2=80=9D he said. =E2=80=9CThey were being paid $9 a day, and the=
y paid $20 a month
in rent, but when the cotton picker came, there was less work. People had n=
o
other trade. They got laid off, and the landowners pushed the shanties down=
,
and those people had nowhere to go. There was a lot of dissatisfaction.=E2=
=80=9D




Dissatisfaction was nothing
new in the Mississippi Delta; this was, after all, the birthplace of the Bl=
ues.
But when the plantation jobs disappeared and no new industries rose to take
their place, the dissatisfaction turned into desperation. Many blacks migra=
ted
to Northern cities like Chicago, but Jordan refused to budge. =E2=80=9CI sa=
id, =E2=80=98I=E2=80=99ll
never leave Mississippi. I=E2=80=99m gonna do something=E2=80=94I=E2=80=99m=
gonna get even some kind of
way.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D Jordan eventually sued the city of Greenwood, forcin=
g it to adopt a more
representative system of government. After that, he was elected to the city
council and then to the state legislature.

style>



Throughout Freedom Summer,
these activists ran into fierce resistance from white business leaders.
Mansoor, who was born in Honduras of Lebanese descent and arrived in
Mississippi as an exchange student in the 1950s, recalled that blacks who t=
ook
part in the voter registration drives were often fired from their jobs or
denied credit at stores and banks.

<=
span style>



Whites who opposed
segregation were likewise targeted. Hazel Brannon Smith, then the fiery
publisher of The Lexington Advertiser, editorialized against the
segregationist white Citizens=E2=80=99 Council in 1964. In the process, she=
said, her
offices were =E2=80=9Cbombed, burned and boycotted,=E2=80=9D and she was la=
ter bankrupted by a
rival Citizens Council-backed newspaper.

tyle>



=E2=80=9CMy life had always been
comfortable in Lexington,=E2=80=9D Smith wrote in an iapatterson.org/stories/bombed-burned-and-boycotted">editorial
published in 1984, on the 20th anniversary of Freedom Summer. =E2=80=9CMy t=
wo papers in
Holmes County were paid for. I wore good clothes, and drove a Cadillac
convertible. I went to Europe on vacation for four months and had more mone=
y in
my bank account when I returned than I did when I left. But the boycott and=
the
hate campaign wore my business down. The Council-backed newspaper depleted =
my
advertising revenues, and I fell into deep debt.=E2=80=9D

s=3D"MsoNormal" style>



Mansoor=E2=80=99s business suffere=
d
after 1967, when one of his Tchula stores was the setting for a showdown
between the Ku Klux Klan and a black activist named Edgar Love. According t=
o
Love=E2=80=99s mp;printsec=3Dfrontcover&source=3Dgbs_ge_summary_r&cad=3D0#v=3Donep=
age&q&f=3Dfalse">account

in the book Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation =
of
1960s Mississippi
, Klan members cornered him on a dark street and pursu=
ed
him into the store. Love hid behind a counter and drew his pistol, and when=
the
first Klansman entered, Love trained his gun on him. Other Klansmen followe=
d
and began turning over counters and racks, =E2=80=9Cjust demolishing the st=
ore,=E2=80=9D says
Mansoor, who remembers telling his pregnant wife to run home. =E2=80=9CI ca=
lled the
sheriff=E2=80=94his name was Andrew Smith=E2=80=94and he said, =E2=80=98The=
re=E2=80=99s nothing I can do about
it.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D The standoff ended when Love turned himself over to a=
trusted white
police officer who took him to jail in Lexington, the county seat, =E2=80=
=9Cfor
protection,=E2=80=9D Mansoor said.



Love was later released, and
Mansoor took some of the Klansmen to court for demolishing his store. He lo=
st
the case and his defense of the activist led to a boycott of his business. =
The
bad feelings persisted for decades: Twenty years later, when his store caug=
ht
fire, arson was suspected though never proven. =E2=80=9CMy wife wanted to m=
ove to
California,=E2=80=9D he recalled. =E2=80=9CBut I said, =E2=80=98No way I=E2=
=80=99m going to let them drive me
away.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D

=



In the early years of the
civil-rights era, most of Tchula=E2=80=99s white residents remained, includ=
ing Sarah
Virginia Jones, who was described in a Memphis Commercial Appeal art=
icle
as a member of =E2=80=9Cthe leading family of Tchula.=E2=80=9D She operated=
Refuge plantation
with her brother and lived out her life in the mansion, even after her
neighborhood became racially mixed. Jones was known for her garden-club wor=
k,
her civic and beautification projects, the parties she hosted for high scho=
ol
seniors, and the artwork, which covered every eye-level wall space in her h=
ome.
(She acquired most of it from a New Orleans art dealer, a Tchula native who
regularly visited her home to offer pieces for her review.)

ass=3D"MsoNormal" style>



Throughout the 1970s, the Holme=
s
County Herald
gave ample space to white society news, down to minute
details like the time Jones went 9358/">shopping
in Memphis with a friend. There was little mention of life on the black sid=
e of
town.



But if they lacked social
clout, black residents were gaining political power. After the passage of t=
he
Civil Rights Act, and the accompanying voter-registration drives, blacks
comprised the majority of the electorate in many Mississippi towns and
counties. In 1967, Robert Clark became the state=E2=80=99s first black stat=
e
representative since the Reconstruction era, and over the decade that follo=
wed,
black politicians were elected into more and more local leadership position=
s.




When Carthan became mayor in
1977, one of his primary goals, he says, was to =E2=80=9Cbring the other si=
de up.=E2=80=9D
=E2=80=9CTchula was like most southern towns, with the whites on one side a=
nd blacks on
the other,=E2=80=9D he recalls. =E2=80=9COn the white side, where I am now,=
there were
sidewalks, manicured lawns and beautiful homes like this one. But on the ot=
her
side was dirt roads, shacks, and 75 percent of the houses had no plumbing.=
=E2=80=9D


>

Carthan and the board of
aldermen set about getting federal grants to make much-needed improvements:
=E2=80=9CPut in a sewer system, one of the first day-care centers in the st=
ate, paved
streets, built houses and a free clinic, started a transportation system an=
d a
feeding program for the elderly.=E2=80=9D These changes were a boon to Tchu=
la=E2=80=99s poorer
residents, but they produced few jobs. For the most part, black residents w=
ere
left to grapple with an economic system that had been designed specifically=
to
keep them in low-wage agricultural jobs.

tyle>



White residents continued to
control most of the town=E2=80=99s wealth and business connections, and Car=
than says
they =E2=80=9Cdidn=E2=80=99t take kindly=E2=80=9D to his efforts: =E2=80=9C=
Tchula=E2=80=99s a plantation town, and they
just rejected me.=E2=80=9D



Carthan=E2=80=99s detractors often
say that the town=E2=80=99s troubles are directly linked to his tenure as m=
ayor, but he
claims that white residents launched an elaborate campaign against him. =E2=
=80=9CI
stayed in court the entire time I was in office. They were accustomed to bl=
acks
who=E2=80=99d bow, say =E2=80=98yes-sir, boss,=E2=80=99 that sort of thing.=
=E2=80=9D


>

Throughout his tenure, the Hera=
ld

frequently ran front-page stories about his political and legal troubles, w=
hich
were legion. He feuded with the former mayor, who was white, and with the
then-biracial board of aldermen. In 1980, the aldermen tried to replace the
black police chief Carthan had appointed with a white one. There was an
altercation at City Hall, and Carthan was charged with assault. In April 19=
81,
he was forced to leave office.



Two months after his resignation,
Carthan was charged with allegedly hiring two hit men to murder one of his
political rivals, Alderman Roosevelt Granderson. Though Granderson was blac=
k,
Carthan=E2=80=94who defended himself=E2=80=94argued that the charges were r=
acially motivated,
that he was being framed by whites. Black farmers raised $115,000 for his b=
ail
and the actor and playwright Ossie Davis traveled to 66 cities to proclaim =
his
innocence.



Carthan was acquitted of
murder in 1982 but returned to jail on charges stemming from the 1980 fight=
at
City Hall. A 1986 NBC segment abo=
ut
Carthan=E2=80=99s trials noted that he was seen by his opponents as =E2=80=
=9Ca conniving
troublemaker=E2=80=9D and by his supporters as =E2=80=9Ca folk hero.=E2=80=
=9D The local district
attorney, Frank Carlton, acknowledged on camera that he had struck a deal w=
ith
Granderson=E2=80=99s alleged murderers: After serving two years in prison, =
the two men
claimed that Carthan had hired them to do the job. Carlton offered to drop =
the
charges against them if they would testify against Carthan in court.
=




=E2=80=9CWhites
felt threatened. People don=E2=80=99t want to come where there=E2=80=99s di=
vision and conflict
and animosity.=E2=80=9D


span>



By the time Carthan=E2=80=99s lega=
l
battles were over, Tchula=E2=80=99s white population had dwindled away to a=
lmost
nothing. =E2=80=9CWhites felt threatened,=E2=80=9D he says. And new busines=
ses didn=E2=80=99t want to
fill the void: =E2=80=9CPeople don=E2=80=99t want to come where there=E2=80=
=99s division and conflict
and animosity.=E2=80=9D The growing sense of desperation brought an increas=
e in drug
use and a corresponding uptick in crime, which led even Mansoor and his wif=
e to
move to a Jackson suburb, though he continues to commute an hour each way t=
o
operate his hardware store.

yle>



Today, Carthan=E2=80=99s vision fo=
r
Tchula has partially come to pass. The town of about 2,000 residents is
governed entirely by black elected officials, and every house has running
water. No one in Tchula gets fired from their jobs or is denied credit for
upsetting the status quo, as happened frequently during the civil-rights er=
a.
The problem is, few people have jobs. Where local workers once harvested co=
tton
or drove tractors on white-owned plantations, or toiled in the local sawmil=
l or
coat factory, there is today no visible means of economic support. Dwindlin=
g
government grants and long commutes to jobs elsewhere are all that=E2=80=99=
s left.



Carthan makes no secret of
his disdain for whites who decamped for other locales, as well as those who
continue to avoid moving their businesses to black-majority towns. But he a=
lso
blames the current, majority-black population. =E2=80=9CThree or four gener=
ations of
people raised on welfare=E2=80=94everybody knows the problem,=E2=80=9D he s=
aid. =E2=80=9CSingle-family
homes, drug-infested neighborhoods, the youth always on social media, expos=
ed
to everything. Ear rings, nose rings, lip rings, baggy pants. I=E2=80=99d e=
xpect they=E2=80=99d
show some appreciation, but a lot of them don=E2=80=99t know their history.=
That=E2=80=99s a
challenge. It=E2=80=99s very difficult for the teachers to even teach schoo=
l. They=E2=80=99re
rebellious. They have the freedom, the resources. They don=E2=80=99t have t=
he
restraints we had in the =E2=80=9960s.=E2=80=9D He shakes his head. =E2=80=
=9CWhat goes around comes
around. We=E2=80=99ve come a long ways, but we=E2=80=99ve got a long ways t=
o go.=E2=80=9D


n>



Neshoba
County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price watches protesters pass through Philadelp=
hia,
Mississippi, on June 21, 1965, during a memorial for the three civil-rights
workers who had been murdered one year earlier. Price was later charged wit=
h
conspiracy to violate the workers=E2=80=99 civil rights and served four yea=
rs in
prison. (AP)




Eighty miles to the
southeast, the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, stands in stark contrast =
with
Tchula. Philadelphia was the site of Freedom Summer=E2=80=99s most brutal e=
vent: On
June 21, 1964, three young civil rights workers were killed by Klansmen aft=
er
being apprehended by local law-enforcement officials. James Earl Chaney, a
black man from nearby Meridian, was beaten and shot three times; two Jewish=
New
Yorkers, Andrew Goodman and Michael =E2=80=9CMickey=E2=80=9D Schwerner, wer=
e shot through the
heart. All three bodies were discovered two months later, buried in an eart=
hen
dam.




But after decades of public
notoriety and internal strife, Philadelphia has become one of the most
successful towns in the region. The economy is diverse, drawing on a mix of
farming, manufacturing, forestry, and service industries, with the added bo=
on
of a nearby Choctaw Indian casino. The county has also set up an enterprise
incubator to provide office, manufacturing, and warehouse space to startup
businesses.



James Young, the town=E2=80=99s bl=
ack
mayor, says this economic expansion was possible only because white residen=
ts
faced the shame of their past. =E2=80=9CPeople didn=E2=80=99t turn away,=E2=
=80=9D Young said. =E2=80=9CThey
didn=E2=80=99t move away.=E2=80=9D



The self-examination didn=E2=80=99=
t
start immediately. =E2=80=9CDuring that season when the civil rights worker=
s were
missing, there was heavy tension in the air, a lot of frustration and
disbelief,=E2=80=9D recalled Young, who was a child at the time. =E2=80=9CI=
t sent shockwaves
through the community that no one was safe. I remember lying on the floor o=
f
our living room with my father and a gun.=E2=80=9D

oNormal" style>



Philadelphia=E2=80=99s prominent
white families were chagrined by the way their city and county were being
portrayed by the media. In particular, one December 1964 www.nytimes.com/images/promos/magazine/20050306lelyveld-magazine.pdf">artic=
le
,
written by New York Times reporter (and later executive editor) Jose=
ph
Lelyveld, reported negatively on the city=E2=80=99s =E2=80=9Cbusiness class=
=E2=80=9D and its reaction
to the murders.


an>



Former Mississippi Secretary
of State Dick Molpus was 14 at the time, and he remembers that his father
invited the Times=E2=80=99s editor, a Philadelphia native named Turn=
er Catledge,
to meet with the local businesses community. Influential locals turned out =
from
the hospital, the newspaper, the lumber industry, and the glove factory. =
=E2=80=9CThe
Klan and the Citizens Council were essentially running the county,=E2=80=9D=
Molpus
recalled. =E2=80=9CThe question was, where was the white leadership?=E2=80=
=9D



As in Tchula, whites who
supported integration were being openly targeted. =E2=80=9CThey threatened =
to burn my
father=E2=80=99s lumber mill down if he didn=E2=80=99t fire a list of emplo=
yees they gave him
who had gone to NAACP meetings,=E2=80=9D said Molpus. =E2=80=9CBut he hired=
three guys with
deer rifles who were as bad as they were to stand watch, and they didn=E2=
=80=99t burn
him out.=E2=80=9D


span>



Catledge had met with
President Lyndon Johnson the night before the meeting in Philadelphia. Molp=
us
remembers sitting on the floor next to the visiting editor: =E2=80=9CHe was=
drinking
scotch, and now and then he=E2=80=99d hold his glass down and tinkle it aro=
und and I=E2=80=99d
take it to my mother to make him another.=E2=80=9D

oNormal" style>



Throughout the evening, the
group=E2=80=99s grievances centered more on the town=E2=80=99s negative por=
trayal than on the
murders themselves. =E2=80=9CThe business guys were furious,=E2=80=9D Molpu=
s said. =E2=80=9CThey wanted
him to get rid of Lelyveld. We=E2=80=99d had churches burned, homes burned,=
a guy got
his skull broke, there were three kidnapped, and the discussion in the busi=
ness
class was just about how the press is making us look like hicks.=E2=80=9D A=
fter
listening to their complaints, Catledge turned the discussion back to the
larger issues. He told the local leaders, =E2=80=9C=E2=80=98There=E2=80=99s=
a moment in your life to
step up and demand this stop,=E2=80=99 which offended everyone in there. So=
mebody said,
=E2=80=98You=E2=80=99re from here, Turner, but you=E2=80=99re not one of us=
anymore.=E2=80=99=E2=80=9D

yle>




=E2=80=9CWe=E2=80=99d
had churches burned, homes burned, a guy got his skull broke, and the
discussion in the business class was just about how the press is making us =
look
like hicks.=E2=80=9D


n>



Another moment of reckoning
came in August 1965, when a local white woman named Florence Mars was pulle=
d
over on her way home from a party. As Molpus put it, Mars was =E2=80=9Ca ve=
ry
outspoken, courageous woman

  1. 2015-01-01 Paul Robert Marino <prmarino1-at-gmail.com> Re: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] linksys smart routes external connections
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  19. 2015-01-12 Ruben Safir <mrbrklyn-at-panix.com> Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] [gabor-at-szabgab.com: [Perlweekly] #181 - Pull, Request and Release!]
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  21. 2015-01-16 einker <eminker-at-gmail.com> Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] The Atlantic - How White Flight Ravaged the Mississippi Delta
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  33. 2015-01-25 Ruben Safir <mrbrklyn-at-panix.com> Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Meeting tonight
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  38. 2015-01-25 eminker-at-gmail.com Re: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] See the power of Free Software
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