Life in Mississippi during the 1930s was difficult due to the rise of the Great Depression and the subsequent agricultural collapse. Inhabitants of Mississippi were also seriously divided on the subject of race, which made the state dangerous for minorities, specifically African-Americans.
The Mississippi economy was dominated by agriculture which insulated the state somewhat from the impacts of the Great Depression. However, agricultural income still fell by 64 percent during the 1930s, and at least one quarter of Mississippi's farmland had to be sold to pay for state taxes. Industrial jobs were impacted as well, as they fell from 52,000 to 28,000 by 1933, and retail store sales shrank from $413 million to $140 million. The average annual income also reflected the impoverished conditions as it fell from $287 to $117. Social services in Mississippi during the 1930s were nearly non-existent so help for families and individuals was meager at best.
On top of the financial hardships that were inflicting the state, the race divide also was a form of tension between white and minority communities. The relations between the groups were so volatile that close to 550 African-Americans were lynched during a 75 year span from 1884 to 1959.