Those left behind
In the heart of the Arkansas Delta lies Lee County, a rural area with a deep history. Cotton, an industry sustained by slaves and, later, African American sharecroppers, once ruled Lee County. To this day, the majority of the county’s residents are black and, like in many rural areas across the country, the population is declining. One hundred years ago, during its height, Lee County was home to nearly 30,000 people, but its population is now one-third of that size. Nearly a quarter of the county’s residents live in poverty, and just 13 percent of adults have an associate degree or higher.5 High school dropouts outnumber college graduates 2-to-1.