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Politics and Economy:
Katrina: The Response
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Race and Class in the Delta South

Along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, relief efforts have been slow to get underway. Many people are angry and residents in some neighborhoods have raised questions about race and class in the wake of the disaster. NOW's Maria Hinojosa reports from the devastated Mississippi coast, where tens of thousands remain without essential services like power and water.

The Delta South has long been subject to mythologizing and stereotyping. Many scholars believe that the phrase "sold down the River" refers to the fear American slaves had of being sold to the plantation South of Louisiana and Mississippi — where treatment and conditions were notoriously harsh. Indeed, Simon Legree, the cruel slave dealer in Harriet Beecher Stowe's UNCLE TOM'S CABIN resided in Louisiana. In the 20th century, areas of the Deep South, especially Mississippi, were viewed as the most resistant to changes sought by the civil rights movement. Southerners, both black and white, face stereotyping the rest of the nation, easily seen in the mass media. What do the statistics say about race, class and education in the Deep South today? According the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 statistics, Mississippi and Louisiana rank first and second in the number of people living beneath the poverty line.

The Delta South in Perspective
State Median Household Income (rank of 50) % of People Below Poverty Level* % over 25 with High School Diploma (rank of 50) % Black or African American
Louisiana $35,110 (48) 19.4 (2) 79.9 (46) 32.5
Mississippi $31,642 (50) 21.6 (1) 77.3 (51) 37.2
National Average $44,684 13.1 83.9 12.2

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey Data, 2004

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