The South's racial binary of black and white has long rendered its Latino citizens invisible. As World War I and the Great Migration shrank its black labor pool, Latinos from Texas and Mexico came to the Mississippi Delta in the 1910s and 1920s to work in its vast fields of cotton. Among the marks that generation of Latino immigrants left on Mississippi are the tamales that are now as much a part of the culinary landscape of the Delta as cornbread and biscuits
As the civil rights movement opened opportunities for black Mississippians in the latter part of the 20th century, Latinos once again stepped into the breach to do the South's dirty work. Today it is hard to go anywhere in Mississippi and not hear workers speaking Spanish behind the scenes in restaurants, as domestic help, and on landscaping crews.