Located slightly south and west of the state’s center, Hinds County acts as Mississippi’s political, social and geographic hub. Created in 1821, the county gradually decreased in size as the boundries of nearby Yazoo, Copiah, Rankin and Madison counties solidified. The county received its name in honor of General Thomas Hinds (Janruary 9, 1790- August 23, 1840), a prominent politician who served in the 20th and 21st Congress. Hinds solidified his reputation in the area when in response to a call to relocate Mississippi’s capital from its original site in geographically and financially suspect Natchez, he worked to survey and select the area now known as Jackson as the state’s new capital in 1821. Members of the Choctaw Nation occupied the site initially, but French-Canadian trader Lous LeFleur settled in the area in 1792. The place primarily served as a trading post on the west bank of the Pearl River. Located in the middle of Hinds County, about forty miles from the Mississippi River, the settlement recieved its name after then-General Andrew Jackson’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans. It is one of two county seats, with the town of Raymond serving as the other. As Mississippi’s capital and the state’s largest city, Jackson served as a center of civil rights activity. African Americans received a severe response from city and state officials, who served as “vigilant defenders of racial control and white privilege.” Although by no means a metropolis such as Atlanta, New Orleans, or Birmingham – all of which possessed significant links to northern industries – Jackson was “as close as one could get to urbanism in Mississippi,” in the words of civil rights activist John Salter.
According to data from the 1960 Census, Jackson had roughly 144,000 residents at that time. Approximatley 64 percent of the city’s population was white, and 36 percent was African American. However, the urban periphery of Jackson, and in particular the rural area of Hinds, Madison, and Rankin counties, told a very different story. The African-American population was a significant majority. Recent statistics clearly indicate a shift in the city’s racial makeup. In 2010, Jackson had 184,250 inhabitants, about 27.8 percent of whom were white and 70.6 percent of whom were African American. The trend toward greater African-American representation is continuing: according to the 2010 Census data, the city was roughly 79 percent black. Such demographic trends are a direct result of a series of school desegregation decisons and white flight, which gave way to inequity surrounding educational opportunities in the Jackson Public School District.