For Politics in South, Race Divide Is Defining

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. — Ten miles south of Ronnie’s Steak and Grill, where Johnny DuPree was making a recent appearance before the Rotary Club, lies the lonely road where three civil rights workers were killed by the Klan one June night in 1964 for registering blacks to vote.

The workers’ cause won in the end. That Mr. DuPree, who is black, is running for governor is proof of that.

Seven miles to the southwest of Ronnie’s lies the Neshoba County Fairgrounds, where Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign with an appeal to disaffected Democrats.

His cause won, too. That Mr. Dupree, who is a Democrat, is considered something of a long shot here is proof of that.

In few places are the current woes of Democrats in the South in such clear relief as they are in Mississippi. It is here that a possibility long considered may soon become a reality, as Democrats ponder the prospect of becoming, definitively, the minority party — in both senses of the word.

New York Times