Miss’sippi Fun Facts

December 20, 2007

What is with me hoarding great books on my desk and only discovering the content when I have to return them? Ah well. With this book, My Mississippi, by Willie Morris, my excuse is that I had it mixed up with another book that I had already read and didn’t think much of. But actually, its fantastic. Packed with fun facts. And a poetically good read for its own sake. However, this is the result of me ruthlessly mining it for pertinent facts. I’m going to have to get again for pleasure reading, and to learn more about parts of Mississippi that I haven’t been to. Here are some nuggets:
Medgar Evers once said “I love Mississippi. I choose not to live anywhere else. I don’t know if I’m going to heaven or hell, but I’m going from Jackson.?
Mississippi a state in 1817, the 20th in the union.
of 82 counties, 22 are more than 50% black. In 1940 the whole state was more than 50% black but the “decline in black population since then is testimony to the out-migration that lasted until the 1970’s.?
“To comprehend Mississippi, the outlander and native alike must recognize that it is still an emphatically white/black society, and that its white people and black people are deeply bound together – and, together, to the land.?
So Much More. Including the cold hard facts on why Biloxi is such a gambling centre, and why my disapproval is going to do absolutely nothing in the world to change that. Its good for me to read, anyway.

… “as in its human affairs, the state’s meteorological composition can be one of palpitant extremes – inundating rainfalls, floods, hurricanes, gales and high winds, and tornadoes, which always seem to seek out house trailer settlements.?
It is also a “land of ghosts: the vanished Indians.? Mississippi was once populated by the ancestors of the Chickasaw, the Choctaw and the Natchez, as well as the Yazoo, Choula, Algonquin, Tunica, Biloxi Sacchuma, Alimamu, and Pascagoula. Now, most of what remains of those people is seen in what Morris calls the “mysterious lost euphonious litany,? of place names. Biloxi means “first people.?
“Elizabeth Spencer begins her memoir On the Gulf: ‘If I could have one part of the world back the way it used to be, I would not choose Dresden before the firebombing, Rome before Nero, or London before the blitz. I would not resurrect Babylon, Carthage or San Francisco. Let the leaning tower lean and the hanging gardens hang. I want the Mississippi Gulf Coast back as it was before Hurricane Camille.?
“Legislation allowing casinos was passed in 1990, but it was close (by two votes in the state senate), and permits gambling establishments to be located on ly on certain bodies of water – the Gulf of Mexico and along the Mississippi River. Federal law permits gambling on Indian reservations in those states where gambling is sanctioned. Now, a decade later, Mississippi is the second-biggest gaming state in the country, trailing only Nevada, and gambling (or “gaming,? as it is euphemistically called) constitutes a major new tax base and source of construction growth; the state levies an 8 percent tax on gaming revenue, and the local municipalities in the nine gambling counties tax at 4 percent. In 1998 state government received $250 million in casino taxes and the localities $65 million, and those figures are steadily rising. The tax monies from casinos, which flow into the state’s general fund, amount to almost 10 percent of the state’s budget. Though, as with tobacco money, there is no plan specifying how exactly these monies must be used, they have funded, among other things, the construction of highways, university buildings, and mental health facilities, as well as teacher pay increases.?
“… of one thing w can rest assured: with nearly a billion dollars in wages and taxes entering the state economy every year, as a legislative lobbyist says, “Demon gamblin’ ain’t ever gonna go away. You can bet on it.? The gambling business is certain to gain more political influence as time passes, although, as one strongly pro-casino legislator sanguinely assures us, it will never be as influential as the farm bureau and the Baptist Church.?
“Of the Gulf Coast’s twelve casinos, nine are in Biloxi. The newest, called Beau Rivage, opened in 1999 at the cost of over $650 million, including $3.5 million in landscaping alone. It is the largest hotel in the South, and that includes the ones in Atlanta and the New Orleans Hilton. It has 1,780 custom guest rooms with marble baths, 66 suites, 12 restaurants, a marina for yachts and sports-fishing boats, a 30,000-square-foot convention center, a grand ballroom and outdoor pavilion, a special Mediterranean-style gambling area, shops, and a spa.?
“The state remains at the nadir in education – fiftieth in America in total expenditures for elementary and secondary students, fiftieth in percentage of high school graduates, fiftieth in salaries for its university teachers, and, most disturbingly of all, fiftieth in overall child development programs that would benefit those in their early years, a period judged by the experts to be absolutely critical, at a time when technological advances demand as never before that the young be educated and trained and counseled for the challenging and complicated future. To me, this reality amounts to nothing less than a societal death wish.?
“Mississippi ranks first among American states in the percentage of its people living below the poverty line: one citizen in every five. It is fiftieth in per capita income (fifty-first if Washington, DC is included) and fiftieth in both median family income and disposable personal income.?
Our state ranks last in the country in literacy. Regarding citizens twenty-five years of age and older, it is last in percentage of high school graduates and forty-eighty in persons twenty-five years or older with college degrees.? note this was in 2000 – is it still true?


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