2015 Mississippi Journey
As our Journeys of Reconciliation trip for Spring Break, 2015 we returned to the Mississippi Delta for a Habitat for Humanity build in the small community of Leland, MS. Our group was relatively small, but in this case that worked to our advantage. Habitat for Humanity cannot accommodate large groups because they have other volunteers on these projects.
We left Atlanta on Sunday, March 8th, travelling by bus to Greenville, Mississippi, and returned to Atlanta on the following Saturday, March 14th. Our work was in Leland, Mississippi, just about 8 miles from Greenville. We stayed in Greenville and made the drive to Leland each morning, returning in the afternoons. The build in the Delta was hard work but it was very rewarding. Affordable housing is desperately needed in this area of Mississippi.
Each day we had a time of reflection on the work we did, and the conversations we had with community members around the intersection of public health, affordable housing and education. The last day we were there (Friday) was not a work day but a day devoted to more intentional, in-depth conversations with community people which included a visit to the Mound Bayou, Mississippi Delta Health Center to learn more about their role in bringing health care to underserved counties in the area. Earlier in the week we visited with the staff of the Delta Health Alliance in the town of Leland, MS which is also the birthplace of Muppet creator Jim Henson.
No visit to the Mississippi Delta would be complete without knowledge of the history of the region and the music which helped shape the people there. We turned to the staff of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University for a wonderful overview of delta history and a visit to the Blues Museum in Leland, and the wonderful B. B. King Museum in nearby Indianola, MS gave us a glimpse into the hardships of the region and how that music genre took shape.
This was a fun trip. I have been many times and the people of Leland are very welcoming and thankful for volunteers, particularly student volunteers.
Required Assigned Readings for the trip.
Additional Suggested Book Readings:
- Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 - by John M. Barry
- This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer -by Kay Mills
- Delta Times by Tony Dunbar
- Last Train North by Clifton Taulbert
- Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored by Clifton Taulbert
Additional Suggested Readings about culture, history, and current realities:
- Magnolia Health Announces $120,000 Funding for Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program
- 10 Things to know about the Mississippi Delta
- Why are so many people leaving the Mississippi Delta
- Leland, MS. Population in 2012: 4,358 (99% urban, 1% rural). Population change since 2000: -20.8% (Retried from City-data.com) Estimated median household income in 2012: $23,013 (it was $25,678 in 2000) Leland: $23,013 MS: $37,095 Estimated per capita income in 2012: $16,013 (it was $11,681 in 2000) Read more.
•Black alone - 3,179 (70.9%)
•White alone - 1,212 (27.0%)
•Hispanic - 35 (0.8%)
•Two or more races - 27 (0.6%)
•Asian alone - 20 (0.4%)
•Other race alone - 5 (0.1%)
•American Indian alone - 3 (0.07%)
- “Health and Health Care in Leland, MS” Health Care comes down to access, affordability and outcomes. Leland residents have access to 2 acute care hospitals within 60 miles. Leland residents are in Washington. Washington County ranks 67th for health outcomes, 77th for health factors, and 72nd for healthy behaviors in Mississippi. Residents spend 5.3% more than the national average on health care-related goods and services.
- Scratching a living.
Good morning to the blues sound
Good morning, my Mississippi
Journeying to the Delta,
No stranger here!
Just a friend I needed to meet,
Truths I need not fear
Overcoming adversity in the Delta,
Building on a land of dreams,
Believing our Habitat houses would turn to homes,
I watched friendships being molded like Peters Pottery
Yes, I want honey on my cornbread
But no sugar in my tea!
Blues sounds run like rivers
Telling stories that live on
Who doesn’t love the blues?
Every emotion wrapped in a song
Tap, tap, tap, went my hammer
“Why don’t all mankind have shelter?”
Tisk, tisk, tisk, went my thoughts
“Limited access to doctors,” I faltered
When do we say, “Good bye to inequality?”
See you soon, my Mississippi
Andrea E. Grant, MS| Assistant Director
Office of Multicultural Programs & Services | Emory University
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