Stories from the Digital Divide in Utica, MS

In June of 2023, MediaJustice staff traveled to Utica, Mississippi to gain a better understanding of why the digital divide remains so persistent in Black communities in the rural South. This trip was motivated by a 2021 report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that showed rural communities with large Black populations in the U.S. South remain the most disconnected communities in the United States.

During the week of June 11, we spoke to most everyone we found around town. We sat down for extended interviews with six Utica community members, recording their stories and combining them into this report addressed to the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility (BEAM) Office of Mississippi. The stories and insights that make up this report detail the assets, barriers, and solutions to broadband access as identified by the lived experience of residents of Utica, Mississippi.

We hope our work can be helpful to understanding how community members in Utica identify assets and barriers to digital equity and broadband access, as well as the kinds of solutions they would like to see implemented with the federal infrastructure funds. We also hope it fills the information and communication gaps that allow the digital divide to persist in Utica and in communities nationwide, and honors the wisdom of the people who live through the digital divide every day.