Belzoni, Mississippi

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For the Italian explorer of Egyptian antiquities, see Giovanni Battista Belzoni.
Belzoni, Mississippi
Downtown Belzoni
Downtown Belzoni
Motto: "Heart Of The Delta"
Location of Belzoni, Mississippi
Location of Belzoni, Mississippi
Coordinates: 33°10.9′N 90°29.1′W / 33.1817°N 90.4850°W / 33.1817; -90.4850Coordinates: 33°10.9′N 90°29.1′W / 33.1817°N 90.4850°W / 33.1817; -90.4850
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Humphreys
 • Mayor Lenora Holmes Sutton[1]
 • Total 1.0 sq mi (2.5 km2)
 • Land 1.0 sq mi (2.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 112 ft (34 m)
Population (United States Census estimate)
 • Total 2,418
 • Density 2,519/sq mi (967/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 39038
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code 28-05140
GNIS feature ID 0666815

Belzoni (/bɛlˈznə/ bel-ZOHN) is a city in Humphreys County, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, on the Yazoo River. The population was 2,663 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Humphreys County.[2] It was named for the 19th-century Italian archaeologist/explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni.[3]

The area was named Farm-Raised Catfish Capital of the World in 1976 by then Governor Cliff Finch, since it produces more farm-raised catfish than any other U.S. county.[4] 40,000 acres (160 km2) of the county are underwater, used to grow catfish. About 60% of U.S. farm-raised catfish are grown within a 65-mile (100-km) radius of Belzoni. The title "Catfish Capital" is also claimed by Savannah, Tennessee and Des Allemands, Louisiana. Belzoni is known for the World Catfish Festival held every April.[4]


The area that eventually became Belzoni was originally known as "Greasy Row" because of saloons along the bank of the Yazoo River.[5] In 1895, a charter was granted for the village of Belzoni, although the area had been settled for several decades previously. Steve Castleman, who secured the charter, became the first mayor of Belzoni.[5] When Humphreys County was formed in 1918, Belzoni was selected county seat.[5]

Civil Rights movement[edit]

Segregated movie theater in Belzoni, 1939

Belzoni was the site of the murder of an early civil rights pioneer. The Rev. George W. Lee, an African-American minister who was seeking voting rights for the disfranchised blacks of the Mississippi Delta, was murdered in 1955 in "Bloody Belzoni" by residents committed to upholding segregation.[6] His killers were never found, as the governor of Mississippi, Hugh L. White, refused to investigate the case.[7] Many consider him the first martyr of the modern Civil Rights movement.[7]

National Public Radio correspondent Margot Adler, while an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, was active in the voter registration drive in Humphreys County (Belzoni) in the summer of 1965. In 2000, she recalled: "I remember how difficult it was to register people: the fear was palpable. I remember that after one month of daily work there were only seven people registered, and a bunch of us almost got ourselves killed after being chased onto private property by a group of men who belonged to the White Citizens Council". She said that the civil rights movement changed Humphreys County, and bettered the lot of African Americans. "There was real change in Belzoni. Streets were paved in hog town, sewers no longer overflowed into the dirt streets. Several black families I knew from then have held political office during the last decade".[8]

Recent history[edit]

In 2006, Belzoni elected its first African-American mayor, Wardell Walton. His term ended with the election of Lenora Sutton in 2013, the first female mayor of Belzoni.[1]


Belzoni is located at 33°10′53″N 90°29′09″W / 33.1813°N 90.4857°W / 33.1813; -90.4857 (33.1813, -90.4857).[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), all land.


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 2,663 people, 934 households, and 640 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,777.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,072.5/km2). There were 1,018 housing units at an average density of 1,061.9 per square mile (410.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 30.49% White, 68.08% African American, 0.04% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.60% from other races, and 0.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.35% of the population

There were 934 households out of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 28.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.49.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.2% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,690, and the median income for a family was $25,521. Males had a median income of $26,466 versus $15,833 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,022. About 29.3% of families and 35.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.4% of those under age 18 and 27.3% of those age 65 or over.


Public Schools[edit]

The City of Belzoni is served by the Humphreys County School District:

  • Humphreys County High School
  • Thomas C. Randle Career and Technical Center
  • Humphreys Junior High School
  • O.M. McNair Upper Elementary School
  • Ida Greene Lower Elementary School

Private Schools[edit]


  • Newspaper
    • Belzoni Banner


The climate in this area is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Belzoni has a Humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[11]

Climate data for Belzoni, Mississippi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12
Average low °C (°F) 2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 137
Source: Weatherbase [12]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b "History Made in Belzoni with the Swearing in of Sutton; First Female Mayor" (PDF). Belzoni Banner. July 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ Rowland, Dunbar (1907). Encyclopedia of Mississippi History: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions and Persons. S.A. Brant.  page 229
  4. ^ a b "Catfish Festival". Belzoni–Humphreys Development Foundation. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "History of Belzoni". Belzoni–Humphreys Development Foundation. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  6. ^ Klopfer, Susan (December 2, 2005). "Rev. George Lee 'Died to Vote' in 'Bloody' Belzoni". Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Rev. George W. Lee" (PDF). The Middle of the Internet. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ Adler, Margot (November 23, 2000). "Margot Adler". Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement. Westwind Writers Inc. Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  11. ^ Climate Summary for Belzoni, Mississippi
  12. ^ "". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on September 21, 2013.
  13. ^ Erikson, Hal (February 7, 2005). "We're Sorry". New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  14. ^ a b "City of Belzoni". Belzoni–Humphreys Development Foundation. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Trail of the Hellhound". National Park Service. April 20, 2001. 
  16. ^ Chancey, Jill R. (June 4, 2007). "The Needle's Song: The Folk Art of Ethel Wright Mohamed". Resource Library. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]