Community Health Centers: A Movement and the People Who Made It Happen

By Bonnie Lefkowitz | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Mississippi:
Where It All Began

Driving northwest from Jackson into the Mississippi Delta everything is quiet and green, a lush fertility the only reminder that this place gave birth to an extraordinary period in U.S. history. Explosive and violent, inspiring and redemptive, the civil rights years are still a touchstone of uncommon valor and long overdue change.

The Deep South is no longer America's heart of darkness. Having had to come farther than many northern places on the road to racial justice, in some ways this area is a beacon of hope. But much remains to be done. For one thing, more people continue to sicken and die here than anywhere else in the nation.1 The struggle for health—indeed, for life itself—goes on.

Rolling hills flatten into fields as far as the eye can see. The town of Greenwood, once the focus of heated civil rights battles, proclaims itself “The Cotton Capital of the World.” There are scores of bridges to cross as the Mississippi River tributaries curl in on themselves so many times you can't tell one from the other. It's as though the rivers' push to the sea has been suspended for a time to allow for a more important task—laying down one of the richest and deepest layers of topsoil in the world. In the midst of this incredible natural wealth, there once was hunger.


What It Was Like Before

To hear L. C. Dorsey tell it, the plantation system that survived well into the twentieth century in rural Mississippi meant “poverty, poverty, and more poverty.” She grew up in that system, in conditions somewhere between outright slavery and a company town where the boss owned your house, the store

-29-

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Community Health Centers: A Movement and the People Who Made It Happen
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - Heroes of Community Health 1
  • Chapter 2 - Mississippi: Where It All Began 29
  • Chapter 3 - Boston: the Way Democracy Ought to Work 50
  • Chapter 4 - The South Carolina Low Country: a Homegrown Black Power Structure 75
  • Chapter 5 - New York: Health Care is a Right 91
  • Chapter 6 - The Rio Grande Valley of Texas: Steps from the Third World 116
  • Chapter 7 - The Health Center Legacy 135
  • Notes 151
  • Interviews 163
  • Index 167
  • About the Author 178
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