Leflore County, Mississippi

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Leflore County
Leflore County Courthouse
Leflore County Courthouse
Map of Mississippi highlighting Leflore County
Location within the U.S. state of Mississippi
Map of the United States highlighting Mississippi
Mississippi's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 33°33′N 90°18′W / 33.55°N 90.3°W / 33.55; -90.3
Country United States
State Mississippi
Named forGreenwood LeFlore
Largest cityGreenwood
 • Total606 sq mi (1,570 km2)
 • Land593 sq mi (1,540 km2)
 • Water14 sq mi (40 km2)  2.3%
 • Total28,339
 • Density47/sq mi (18/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district2nd

Leflore County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2020 census, the population was 28,339.[1] The county seat is Greenwood.[2] The county is named for Choctaw leader Greenwood LeFlore, who signed a treaty to cede his people's land to the United States in exchange for land in Indian Territory. LeFlore stayed in Mississippi, settling on land reserved for him in Tallahatchie County.

Leflore County is part of the Greenwood, MS Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is located in the Mississippi Delta region, with its southern border formed by the Yazoo River. Its riverfront lands were developed before the Civil War as cotton plantations. More inland areas were developed in the later 19th century.

Leflore County, which is still largely rural, is noted for having the highest level of child poverty of any county in the United States. Mechanization of agriculture reduced jobs available for many workers in the 20th century, and there are few opportunities.[3] The population has declined dramatically since its peak in 1930 as people continue to leave for opportunities elsewhere.


Leflore County was formed in 1871 during the Reconstruction era from portions of Carroll, Sunflower and Tallahatchie counties. It was named for Greenwood Leflore,[4] a Choctaw chief. During the period of Indian Removal in the 1830s, he was one of the chiefs who signed the Treaty of Dancing Creek of 1830, by the terms of which the Choctaw sold to the US their remaining lands east of the Mississippi River. Most Choctaw migrated to the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), but Leflore and some others remained in Mississippi. He became a state and US citizen, a planter who owned African-American slaves, and at times served as a politician.

Following the American Civil War, during Reconstruction the majority-black population of freedmen in the county gained emancipation and suffrage, participating for the first time in formal politics. They supported the Republican Party, as President Abraham Lincoln had gained their freedom. In the mid-1870s, the Red Shirts, a white paramilitary organization working on behalf of the Democratic Party, developed chapters in Mississippi. They worked to disrupt Republican meetings, suppress the black vote, and turn Republicans out of office so that white Democrats could regain control of the state legislature.

One particular act of mass violence stands out: In September 1889, organizing by the Colored Farmers' Alliance sparked false rumors of an impending Black "uprising." Mississippi Governor Robert Lowry ordered the state militia to Leflore County. Militia troops killed an estimated 25 Black people.[5]

In the period from 1877 to 1950, Leflore County had 48 documented lynchings of African Americans, by far the highest number in the state and third highest in the United States.[6] Most occurred around the turn of the 20th century, as part of white imposition of Jim Crow conditions and suppression of black voting. Mississippi had more lynchings than any other state and used violence as a means to terrorize and retain control the African-American population. In 1890 the state legislature passed a new constitution that had a variety of devices to disenfranchise blacks; they developed ways around court cases that tried to dismantle these, and kept blacks excluded from the political system and racially segregated into the 1960s.

20th century to present[edit]

In the first half of the 20th century, many blacks left rural counties such as Leflore, in the Great Migration to northern and midwestern industrial cities to escape racial violence, and in search of jobs and education: many people went north by train to Chicago, taking their music with them and changing the big city forever. Many more people left Mississippi from 1940 to 1970, often migrating to the West Coast for defense industry jobs.

As with other parts of the majority-black Delta, Leflore County was a major site of activism and white violence during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, the events leading up to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till unfolded in the unincorporated community of Money, Mississippi. Till, a teenage African-American, was visiting from Chicago and staying with relatives in Money, where Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market was located. Here Till encountered Carolyn Bryant, who later said that he had behaved flirtatiously toward her. Bryant's husband, Roy Bryant, and another white man, J.W. Milam, abducted Till later that evening. They beat and tortured him at several locations in Leflore and neighboring counties before shooting him and dumping his body in the river in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white jury of Till's murder at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, in Sumner, Mississippi.

During a 2007 interview, not made public until 2017, Carolyn Bryant had disclosed that she had fabricated her testimony about Till's actions.[7][8]

In 1963, the county had more than 13,000 blacks of legal voting age, but fewer than 270 were registered because of discrimination and suppression by whites. Blacks had been essentially disfranchised since implementation of Mississippi's new constitution in 1890, establishing poll taxes, literacy tests and other voter registration barriers. Meanwhile, 95% of eligible white voters were registered.[9]

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had moved its headquarters to Greenwood in early 1963, and by late March of that year, eight SNCC members were arrested while trying to register voters. The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division filed suit against the city of Greenwood and Leflore County to obtain their release. The petition was denied by a local court, but the city of Greenwood entered into a voluntary agreement to release the students. In June 1963, 45 residents of Itta Bena were arrested in Leflore County while protesting an attack on churches where voter registration drives were being held. The Civil Rights Division of DOJ filed suit against the county to obtain their release as well, but to no avail.[10] Passage of national civil rights legislation by Congress in 1964 and 1965 began to change the ground rules, especially as it authorized federal oversight and enforcement in counties with a history of an under-representation of minority voters.

Organizers and marchers returned to the county in 1966 as part of the March Against Fear, initiated by James Meredith. He was shot and wounded by a white man two days into the march. Major civil rights leaders and marchers from a variety of organizations vowed to continue his march of more than 220 miles from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. By the time they reached Greenwood, several hundred persons were in the group. They worked to organize and register voters, as most blacks in the county still lived in fear and had not registered. After previous registration drives, the white county board had cut off federal commodity subsidies to the black community, threatening the survival of numerous poor families. SNCC helped organize a national gathering of food for county residents to overcome the boycott.

In 1966, Stokley Carmichael, a new leader of SNCC, spoke in Greenwood for "Black Power", saying that blacks had to build their own bases of political and economic power, as had communities of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants to the United States.

Blues musicians[edit]

L.C. Green was one of several notable blues guitarists who came from Leflore County, Mississippi. Other notable natives and one-time residents of the county were (in alphabetical order) David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Guitar Slim, Luther Johnson (Guitar Junior), Richard "Hacksaw" Harney, Robert Johnson, Rubin Lacey, Furry Lewis, Tommy McClennan, Dion Payton, Robert Petway, Brewer Phillips, Fenton Robinson, Hubert Sumlin, and Hound Dog Taylor.[11]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 606 square miles (1,570 km2), of which 593 square miles (1,540 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (2.3%) is water.[12]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2013[17]

2020 census[edit]

Leflore County racial composition[18]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 5,963 21.04%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 20,809 73.43%
Native American 15 0.05%
Asian 205 0.72%
Other/Mixed 507 1.79%
Hispanic or Latino 840 2.96%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 28,339 people, 9,962 households, and 6,050 families residing in the county.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 32,317 people living in the county. 72.2% were Black or African American, 24.9% White, 0.6% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.5% of some other race and 0.6% of two or more races. 2.3% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 37,947 people, 12,956 households, and 8,887 families living in the county. The population density was 64 people per square mile (25/km2). There were 14,097 housing units at an average density of 24 per square mile (9/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 67.73% Black or African American, 30.00% White, 0.11% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.98% from other races, and 0.50% from two or more races. 1.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

According to the census[19] of 2000, the largest ancestry groups in Leflore County were African 67.73%, English 19%, and Scots-Irish 9.4%

There were 12,956 households, out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.00% were married couples living together, 27.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.40% were non-families. 28.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.33.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 29.70% under the age of 18, 13.10% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 18.20% from 45 to 64, and 11.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $21,518, and the median income for a family was $26,059. Males had a median income of $25,959 versus $18,497 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,553. About 29.10% of families and 34.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 48.00% of those under age 18 and 24.50% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The Delta Correctional Facility, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, is located in Greenwood in Leflore County.[20][21]

United States presidential election results for Leflore County, Mississippi[22]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 3,129 28.72% 7,648 70.21% 116 1.06%
2016 3,212 28.83% 7,787 69.90% 141 1.27%
2012 3,587 28.08% 9,119 71.39% 67 0.52%
2008 4,105 31.38% 8,914 68.14% 62 0.47%
2004 4,635 37.19% 7,566 60.71% 262 2.10%
2000 4,626 41.03% 6,401 56.77% 249 2.21%
1996 4,456 38.04% 6,853 58.51% 404 3.45%
1992 5,298 42.39% 6,374 51.00% 826 6.61%
1988 6,409 50.95% 5,830 46.35% 340 2.70%
1984 7,550 49.63% 7,443 48.93% 219 1.44%
1980 5,798 42.40% 7,498 54.83% 379 2.77%
1976 5,872 46.64% 6,135 48.73% 582 4.62%
1972 6,779 75.58% 2,038 22.72% 152 1.69%
1968 1,514 13.02% 4,386 37.71% 5,732 49.28%
1964 5,589 93.63% 380 6.37% 0 0.00%
1960 1,317 28.38% 1,212 26.12% 2,112 45.51%
1956 887 24.72% 1,769 49.30% 932 25.98%
1952 2,434 56.88% 1,845 43.12% 0 0.00%
1948 80 2.69% 139 4.68% 2,754 92.63%
1944 200 7.70% 2,399 92.30% 0 0.00%
1940 111 4.41% 2,404 95.59% 0 0.00%
1936 35 1.61% 2,137 98.34% 1 0.05%
1932 34 1.78% 1,877 98.02% 4 0.21%
1928 105 4.52% 2,219 95.48% 0 0.00%
1924 135 10.56% 1,144 89.44% 0 0.00%
1920 39 3.85% 969 95.75% 4 0.40%
1916 28 3.18% 853 96.82% 0 0.00%
1912 12 1.79% 616 91.80% 43 6.41%


Colleges and Universities[edit]

Mississippi Valley State University is located 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of Itta Bena in an unincorporated area.[23]

Additionally the county is in the district for Mississippi Delta Community College.[24] The main campus is in Moorhead in Sunflower County.

Primary and secondary schools[edit]




Census-designated place[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost town[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Leflore County, Mississippi". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Table 1: 2011 Poverty and Median Income Estimates - Counties". Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. 2011. Archived from the original on October 10, 2013.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 184.
  5. ^ Holmes, William F. (1973). "The Leflore County Massacre and the Demise of the Colored Farmers' Alliance". Phylon. 34 (3): 267–274. doi:10.2307/274185. ISSN 0031-8906. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  6. ^ "Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror". Equal Justice Initiative. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  7. ^ "Carolyn Bryant Admits To Lying On Emmett Till... 62 Years Later!!!". VannDigital. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  8. ^ Carroll, Rory (January 27, 2017). "Woman at center of Emmett Till case tells author she fabricated testimony". The Guardian. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  9. ^ Hendrickson, Paul (2003). Sons of Mississippi. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40461-9.
  10. ^ John Doar (1997). "The Work of the Civil Rights Division in Enforcing Voting Rights Under the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960". Florida State University Law Review. 25 (1). (available online) Archived 2012-03-16 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Furry Lewis". Msbluestrail.org. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  12. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  17. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  18. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  19. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  20. ^ "Private Prisons Archived 2015-04-25 at the Wayback Machine." Mississippi Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 12, 2010.
  21. ^ "Ward Map Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine." City of Greenwood. Retrieved on August 12, 2010.
  22. ^ David Leip. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  23. ^ "Location Archived 2012-06-03 at the Wayback Machine." Mississippi Valley State University. Retrieved on April 5, 2012.
  24. ^ "About MDCC". Mississippi Delta Community College. Retrieved May 12, 2021. Service District Bolivar, [...]
  25. ^ "School District Consolidation in Mississippi Archived 2017-07-02 at the Wayback Machine." Mississippi Professional Educators. December 2016. Retrieved on July 2, 2017. Page 2 (PDF p. 3/6).
  26. ^
  27. ^ Lynch, Adam (November 18, 2009). "Ceara's Season". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved August 19, 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°33′N 90°18′W / 33.55°N 90.30°W / 33.55; -90.30