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A Portrait of Mississippi

Mississippi Human Development Report 2009

The Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, the American Human Development Project and Oxfam America released "A Portrait of Mississippi: the Mississippi Human Development Report 2009," on January 26th, the first state-specific report by the American Human Development Project. The report provides a state-wide, county-by-county assessment, broken down by race, of such indicators as lifespan, earnings, incidence of diabetes, high school completion, crime, birth weight, and more, and will help policymakers, business and non-profit leaders, the media and people around the state understand Mississippi's current circumstances in a clear and unique way.

What is most surprising is not all of Mississippi is poor, or last in every development category. There are regions in Mississippi that rank on par with the richest state in America (Connecticut), and there are regions that rank on par with the least developed countries in the world.

This study illuminates the sharp disparities in opportunity between regions and between races within the state. The report forces us to acknowledge who is thriving, and who is being shut out. It is clear that we cannot forge ahead while leaving so many people behind.

"In Mississippi, where we work with 13 state and local organizations such as the NAACP, this report clearly illustrates the conditions residents were struggling with even prior to the hurricanes of 2005—limited access to education, lower incomes, and shorter lives—and argues for a comprehensive solution for recovery," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America.

Given the profound economic and social challenges facing Mississippi, and more broadly working families in the US today, this report comes at a crucial time to help policy makers use precious resources to ensure all Mississippians have access to the American Dream.

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