Neshoba County courthouse and Confederate Monument in Philadelphia
Location within the U.S. state of Mississippi
Mississippi's location within the U.S.
|o Total||572 sq mi (1,480 km2)|
|o Land||570 sq mi (1,500 km2)|
|o Water||1.5 sq mi (4 km2) 0.3%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||52/sq mi (20/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
Neshoba County is located in the central part of the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 29,676. Its county seat is Philadelphia. It was named after Nashoba, a Choctaw chief. His name means "wolf" in the Choctaw language.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI), a federally recognized tribe, is based here and has developed one of the largest casino complexes in the state on their reservation. The Silver Star and Golden Moon casinos are the first land-based casinos in Mississippi; these casinos are part of the MBCI's Pearl River Resort in the county.
At the time of European encounter, this was part of the territory of the historic Choctaw people, who occupied most of what later was defined as Mississippi. Under President Andrew Jackson, the United States conducted Indian removal in the 1830s in the Southeast, and most of the Choctaw were removed to west of the Mississippi River, to land in Indian Territory, now part of Oklahoma.
Descendants of the Choctaw who remained in the state continued to identify as Choctaw. They lived in relatively distinct communities and reorganized in the 1930s, gaining federal recognition as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Even in the 1970s, eighty percent of their people continued to speak Choctaw.
The white-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution in 1890, that effectively disenfranchised most freedmen and other non-whites, such as Native Americans. This exclusion was maintained well into the 20th century, but activists in the 1960s increasingly worked to restore voting rights throughout the state.
Neshoba County is known as the site of the lynching murder of three young activists in July 1964 during Freedom Summer in Mississippi, a period of education and a voter registration drive to prepare African Americans for voting. The three young men, two from the North, disappeared at a time of heightened violence, and they became the subjects of a state and FBI search. White supremacists were found to have murdered three civil rights activists: James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner near Philadelphia, the county seat.
Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price was implicated and charged with being part of the group that lynched the three young men and buried them in an earthen dam 15 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Outrage over the crime contributed to congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. The crime and decades-long legal aftermath of investigation and trials inspired the 1988 movie Mississippi Burning.
In 1980 Governor Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair, delivering a speech about economic policy and referring to "states' rights". He was believed to be referring to southern conservative values, in an area associated with the 1964 murders and at a time when the Republican Party was attracting more white conservatives from the Democratic Party.
As of the census of 2000, there were 28,684 people, 10,694 households, and 7,742 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km2). There were 11,980 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 65.50% White, 19.33% Black or African American, 13.80% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 0.81% from two or more races. 1.16% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 28.6% identified as of American ancestry, 8.8% as Irish and 6.1% as English, according to Census 2000. Those who identify as having "American" ancestry are predominantly of English descent, but have ancestors who came to the US so long ago that they identify simply as American. 88.7% spoke English and 10.2% Choctaw as their first language.
There were 10,694 households, out of which 34.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.50% were married couples living together, 15.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.60% were non-families. 24.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 28.20% under the age of 18, 9.00% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $28,300, and the median income for a family was $33,439. Males had a median income of $28,112 versus $19,882 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,964. About 17.90% of families and 21.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.20% of those under age 18 and 22.00% of those age 65 or over.