The Mississippi Delta has bad press. Journalists stay a few days or weeks, file their stories, and move on. Over the years, reportage from the Delta has tended to feature poverty, racial oppression, lynchings, the murders of Civil Rights workers, and, more recently, joblessness in Delta communities, gang violence, and an epidemic of crack cocaine and methamphetamine addiction. The Delta’s white minority appears in most such reportage as a faceless bunch of rednecks and bigots.

On a more upbeat note, stories about the Delta celebrate its music and the literature that writers from the region have produced—but mostly the music. The blues originated in the Delta. Tourists come from all over the world searching for the roots of this quintessentially American music. The B. B. King Museum draws crowds to the great bluesman’s hometown of Indianola....


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