The right to vote is a cornerstone of democracy, yet in Mississippi and across the South, the Democratic Party was “for whites only”. Bobby Harrison, senior Capitol reporter for Mississippi Today, has seen first-hand the obstacles to obtaining the right to vote. In this essay, I will explore how food power was used as a weapon to stabilize what was considered a civil rights crisis in the civil rights era of Mississippi. The politics of white supremacy were integral to the fight for civil rights in Mississippi, as well as the fight for freedom of blacks in general and of the political history of the United States. The story of the Mississippi War against the War on Poverty is instructive and is framed in the political, social and economic context of the fight for civil rights in Mississippi.
U. S. food assistance programs were “the product of a political compromise between legislators who represented hungry voters in the Northeast and those who represented ambitious farmers from the Midwest and the South”, according to historian Felicia Kornbluh. The former governor also shared texts that he had exchanged with Rodney Bennett, former president of the University of Southern Mississippi. The Congress of Racial Equality (COFO) voter registration projects helped to expose black disenfranchisement, but were ineffective in generating new black voters in politically significant numbers.
This essay was supported by a Study the South research grant sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Department of Archives and Special Collections of the University of Mississippi. The white power structure of Congress in Mississippi used food power to manipulate policies and programs at the intersection of agriculture, food, health and welfare in order to maintain white supremacy and thwart any progress efforts by blacks in the state. Study the South is a peer-reviewed online multimedia journal published and managed by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. In conclusion, it is clear that food power was used as a weapon to sustain white supremacy during this period in southern Mississippi. This essay has explored how local, state, and national actors converged to use food as a weapon to stabilize what they considered a civil rights crisis. It is important to understand how these actors used food power to manipulate policies and programs at the intersection of agriculture, food, health and welfare in order to maintain white supremacy.