Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The story of Sugar Ditch

Sixty Minutes stirred the Mississippi pot thirty years ago with a story on Tunica County.  The story is mainly forgotten, although it received its fair share of attention in 1985.  The video popped up on Youtube, so here it is for your viewing pleasure. 


Col. Reb Sez said...

Don't know if this is in the story, but I had several friends from Tunica who said as soon as a family would move out of one of the terrible shacks on Sugar Ditch into better housing another would eagerly take their place. This was back when a lot of black families were still living in tenant houses out on plantations, and the in-town local of the Sugar Ditch housing made it highly desirable.

Anonymous said...

Roger Goodell would be a good JFP intern.

Anonymous said...

Around 12:37, the "Establishment" figures interviewed all seem to almost be yodeling. That's unusual in the Delta, even in a part of the region where the whites tend to have a high degree of Native American admixture. Three of those four people at the conference table are obviously 'part Indian' (I am, and I know the look). But it takes a higher percentage of Native American lineage, and far less 'white acculturation' than is obviously possessed by those "establishment" types, for a person to exhibit the voice qualities we hear in that segment of the video.

What I'm saying is that I believe the show's producers caused their sound experts to deliberately DISTORT those voices, in order to make them sound comical/strange/sinister/disturbing.

But then, the entire 'piece' seems to be a gross and deliberate DISTORTION. Achieving the most negative SPIN possible, seems to have been the goal. And, to be sure the final picture of Tunica amounted to a giant lie, Sixty Minutes' staff's distortions and OMISSIONS were supplemented by the rantings and probable FABRICATIONS of the Civil Rights Attorney.

The Civil Rights Attorney could have been a recurring character on Saturday Night Live. He was so over-the-top, he seemed to be doing a comedy act.

I was at Delta State, in the mid-Seventies - a decade BEFORE this Sixty Minutes segment was aired. Most every white person there had close black friends. Many had black lovers. We found jobs for each other in Jackson, and the close ties have endured. We had no 'apartheid' in the Seventies. And considering that we, today, mostly live in close proximity to each other, in Madison and FNEJ, no 'apartheid' seems to have emerged during the ensuing decades. I hardly think the 'Delta State Crowd' is unique in that regard. Grads of Southern, as just one example, seem to have formed similar long term interracial bonds.

Maybe Tunica was actually worse, and somehow different from Greenville, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Hollandale, and Rosedale. But mostly, I suspect that Sixty Minutes approached the story with an agenda, and that the writers/producers/Narrator SAW ONLY WHAT THEY WANTED TO SEE - saw only what made for a more sensational story.

You can find horrible poverty in a lot of places - even within a couple miles of Sixty Minutes' New York headquarters. As a window into Sixty Minutes' hypocrisy, try doing a Google Image Search like, "Bronx 1985". Parts of the Bronx, back then, made Sugar Ditch look like Heaven.

Sugar Ditch Was A Bitch said...

Responding to 12:55. That a producer would 'approach a story with an agenda' is certainly an eye opener. Say it ain't so and thanks for that enlightenment.

I too was at Delta State in that time period and knew very, very few students who had inter-racial relationships (lovers). Although I'm sure there were some, your suggestion is over the top. And the 'close proximity' you claim exists today in Madison and NEJ is a figment of your imagination. Maybe it was the DDT wafting through the Delta air when you were at Delta State.

Sugar Ditch was reality. Anybody who lived in the Delta and traveled to Memphis knew that. Sugar Ditch was 'North Mound Bayou', but worse. Some claim the casinos saved Sugar Ditch from being the only incorporated Third World Town in The Delta. A 'sugar ditch' as you probably know is a ditch running through neighborhoods and behind houses - a ditch filled with raw sewage, offal and all sorts of pestilence. That was Tunica. That WAS Mississippi's Sugar Ditch. And it had absolutely NOTHING to do with Native Americans. Nothing.

Anonymous said...

"yodeling. That's unusual in the Delta, even in a part of the region where the whites tend to have a high degree of Native American admixture"

I thought yodeling came from Switzerland. Apparently, the Swiss think so too.

The Delta-yodeling connection is sure news to me.

Anonymous said...

I watched and I didn't hear yodeling. If you are at least 50 years old
you might remember when hearing 60 Minutes was showing up to investigate government was all it took to have people sh*tting bricks.

What I thought I heard was some high pitched nervous explanation about how the Sh*t Ditch and squalor was freedum before the word freedum was a word.

Tell me who in Tunica was proud of the Sh*t Ditch.

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