The first time I didn’t see the Mississippi Delta was in 1997. My friend John and I were on the first of what became multiple tours of the southeast. We had very little in the way of a plan of where we were going, except we knew that we wanted to make it to New Orleans. We weren’t sure how we were going to get there, but when we did get there, we headed due south on Louisiana Highway 23.
We launch The DETOURIST from Vicksburg, Mississippi. And the first thing we do is—that’s right—take a detour. On the way we encounter the rarely-told story of how a racial massacre in 1874 brought a former Union General back to center stage, and the story of an unlikely experiment in Black self-government in antebellum Mississippi.