For all the upside of visiting Alabama and Mississippi, and there's much to recommend--The history of the black freedom struggle that inspires the world. Museums and sites. A good kind of pride and friendliness. Great food. Delta, rivers, pine forests, rolling hills--one cannot ignore the downside--Ground Zero for the enslavement of people of color. Racial terrorism. Mass incarceration. Deprivation. Robby Luckett of Jackson State told me that the power structure in Mississippi remains largely unchanged from fifty years ago so the struggle continues. The urban poverty was worse than any I've seen. The downtowns of Montgomery, Selma, Meridian, Jackson, and Hattiesburg exhibited neglect as if fifty years ago it was decreed: No more maintenance. No more roads, sidewalks, bridges, paint for porches, shingles for roofs, economic development, or jobs. In a double whammy of White Flight and desegregation, the historic black business areas slumped and fell. But efforts are underway to revitalize and visitors are attracted to the bravery of the black freedom movement. It hasn't escaped the notice of the Mississippi Chamber of Commerce that in its first year alone, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum attracted over 250,000 visitors. After all, the only color more important than white in America is green.
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