Clarksdale, Mississippi

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Clarksdale is a city in Coahoma County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 20,645 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Coahoma County[1].

Clarksdale was named in honor of founder and resident John Clark, brother-in-law of politician James Lusk Alcorn, whose plantation home is nearby.

Contents

History

In the early 20th century, Clarksdale was known as the "Golden Buckle in the Cotton Belt" and was home to a mixture of Lebanese, Italian, Chinese and Jewish immigrants along with African-Americans and white plantation owners.[2]

Clarksdale figured ly in the regional agricultural landscape and became pre-eminent when the International Harvester Company perfected the development of the single row mechanical cotton picking machine at the nearby Hopson Plantation in 1946.[3] This technological advancement quickly revolutionized American agriculture and had far-reaching economic and social implications for the cotton industry worldwide and particularly for the Mississippi Delta.

Whereas previously the area's sprawling plantations were worked largely by an indentured African-American workforce, the rapid mechanization of cotton production made these underpaid and systematically exploited workers expendable. This change, concurrent with the return of many African American GIs from World War II accelerated what came to be known as The Great Migration to the north, the largest movement of Americans in U.S. history. The Illinois Central Railroad operated a large depot in Clarksdale which quickly became a primary departure point for many African-Americans in the area. This important rail hub provided an escape route away from an accelerating climate of racist hatred for which Coahoma County quickly became known as evidenced by violence against such local figures as musician Ike Turner and Civil Rights leader Dr. Aaron Henry.

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