“Mississippi is magic, Mississippi is hell.” I scribbled this note to myself in a journal on an early trip. It still sums up my feelings pretty well. What started as a three-day assignment quickly morphed into an obsession that has taken me more than 120 days in the field over the course of nearly seven years, with only more questions in need of answering.

In April of 2010 I was sent to Mississippi for an assignment about rural healthcare. I spent a few hours in the town of Greenwood, Mississippi and was struck by the openness of the residents of the Baptist Town neighborhood, and also the glaring disparity between their living conditions and those of their neighbors in picturesque north Greenwood.