Northeastern Mississippi is a region steeped in history and culture. From the blues to the resilience of its people, the Delta region has a long and storied past that dates back to the early 1800s. In 1803, the United States purchased Louisiana, which marked the beginning of its expansion west of the Mississippi River. Five days later, Port Hudson (Louisiana) fell, and the Confederacy was split in two.
This event was followed by a period of population decline in the 1930s and 1950s, as people left rural areas in search of economic opportunities. The African-American experience has been deeply embedded in northeastern Mississippi's culture. Byron De La Beckwith, who assassinated civil rights leader Medger Evers in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963, was a member of the KKK and a White Citizens Council. The legacy of Black contributions to Delta history and culture can be seen in its land, communities, and heritage. In addition, indigenous tribes on the border were tricked into making land concessions through treaties they barely understood in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The city's first levees were built in 1718, and now there is a unique system of continuous levees that extends from Cairo to the Gulf of Mexico on the west side of the Mississippi River.
Missouri was the northernmost slave state in the Mississippi River Valley, and when Kansas wanted to enter the Union as a free state in 1854, tensions arose along their shared border. In 1682, Sieur de LaSalle claimed the entire Mississippi Valley for France up to the Gulf of Mexico. The French saw this new world as a source of great wealth for their Crown and national aristocrats. Outside of New Orleans, Louisiana has more than 100 sites related to the Civil War. These range from Red River campaign sites in south-central Louisiana to Grant Marches in the northeast corner of the state.
There are also numerous skirmishes and raids across the state, as well as houses, museums, and trails of historic monuments. The Spanish left their cultural imprint on life in far south Delta during their relatively short presence there. In 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer from Ruleville, Mississippi gained national attention for her work as a civil rights organizer and her attempts to seat Democratic Party for Mississippi Freedom delegates at the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention in Atlantic City. The Lower Mississippi Delta region is home to many cities and towns with names that reflect its diverse heritage. The 18th century saw ongoing rivalry between Great Britain and France throughout this area, which posed an increasing danger to all Indians east of the Mississippi River. The British and French would wage wars for control wherever they faced each other. Sieur de La Salle went down the Mississippi River to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico and claimed it all for Louis XIV in 1682. This marked an important moment in history that still resonates today.
People from all over can explore northeastern Mississippi's cultural attractions to gain insight into its unique history.