‘Still Hungry in America': A Return to Mississippi

June 20, 2006 1 min read

Michele Norris of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” takes a look at the current state of affairs in Belzoni, Miss.—"...the seat of Humphreys County, still one of the poorest counties in one of the poorest states in the United States.” Belzoni was also the setting for the 1967 landmark book, Still Hungry in America, with photographs by Al Clayton and text by psychiatrist Robert Coles. The book poignantly documented the lives of former sharecroppers and drove home to Americans that hunger was alive and well right here at home.

Norris travels to Belzoni and finds many changes. This time, instead of runaway hunger, she finds an obesity epidemic.

Included in this look back at Belzoni is this essay by Anderson Heston, “Teaching in a Forgotten Part of America,” a ninth-grade English teacher at Humphreys County High School. Heston notes the persistence of two Belzonis, “thanks to the persistence of racial segregation in the Delta.” He writes:

My students fascinate me. Take a handful of cultural influences (hip-hop music, professional basketball, Southern cooking and the black church), shake them together, and you still can't begin to approximate my students.

But, he notes: “That said, they have been denied access to an equal education.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Around the Web blog.