The Poorest Place In America

Lake Providence's poverty is extreme and, despite civil rights progress, too familiar in the South

The town has no public parks or swimming pools, no movie theaters, no shopping malls, not even a McDonald's or a Wal-Mart. In fact, business in Lake Providence, Louisiana, is so bad that even the pawnshop has shut down. "The only recreation we have," says a resident, "is poor people's fun: drinking, drugs, fighting and sex." Restless teenagers mill around narrow streets lined with burned-out houses and dilapidated trailer parks. "We've got all the problems they have in New York and Chicago, but nothing to fight them with," says Mayor James W. Brown Jr. If there is a poorer place in...

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