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Kemper County, Mississippi facts for kids

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Kemper County
The Kemper Project power plant.
The Kemper Project power plant.
Map of Mississippi highlighting Kemper County
Location within the U.S. state of Mississippi
Map of the United States highlighting Mississippi
Mississippi's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Mississippi
Founded 1833
Named for Reuben Kemper
Seat De Kalb
Largest Town De Kalb
 • Total 767 sq mi (1,990 km2)
 • Land 766 sq mi (1,980 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2 km2)  0.1%
 • Total 10,456
 • Estimate 
 • Density 13.632/sq mi (5.263/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Kemper County is a county located on the central eastern border of the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,456. Its county seat is De Kalb. The county is named in honor of Reuben Kemper.

The county is part of the Meridian, MS Micropolitan Statistical Area. In 2010 the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved construction of the Kemper Project, designed to use "clean coal" to produce electricity for 23 counties in the eastern part of the state. As of February 2017, it was not completed and had cost overruns. It is designed as a model project to use gasification and carbon-capture technologies at this scale.

East Mississippi Community College is located in Kemper County in the town of Scooba, at the junction of US 45 and Mississippi Highway 16.


In this county the land was developed by white planters for cotton cultivation in the 19th century. It continues to be largely rural. After the American Civil War and Reconstruction, racial violence increased as whites struggled to regain power over the majority population of freedmen. In 1890, blacks made up the majority of the county' population: 10,084 blacks to 7,845 whites.

Beginning in late December 1906, there were several days of racial terror in the county.

In 1934, three African-American suspects in Kemper County were repeatedly whipped in order to force them to confess to murder. In Brown v. Mississippi (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled such forced confessions violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and were inadmissible at trial.

The peak of population in the county was in 1930. Mechanization of agriculture decreased the need for farm labor. From 1940 to 1970, the population declined markedly, as may be seen on the table below, as people moved to other areas for work. This was also the period of the second wave of the Great Migration of 5 million African Americans out of the South to the North and to the West Coast, where the defense industry had many jobs, beginning during World War II.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 767 square miles (1,990 km2), of which 766 square miles (1,980 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (0.1%) is water.

Major highways

  • US 45.svg U.S. Highway 45
  • Circle sign 16.svg Mississippi Highway 16
  • Circle sign 21.svg Mississippi Highway 21
  • Circle sign 39.svg Mississippi Highway 39

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 7,663
1850 12,517 63.3%
1860 11,682 −6.7%
1870 12,920 10.6%
1880 15,719 21.7%
1890 17,961 14.3%
1900 20,492 14.1%
1910 20,348 −0.7%
1920 19,619 −3.6%
1930 21,881 11.5%
1940 21,867 −0.1%
1950 15,893 −27.3%
1960 12,277 −22.8%
1970 10,233 −16.6%
1980 10,148 −0.8%
1990 10,356 2.0%
2000 10,453 0.9%
2010 10,456 0.0%
2018 (est.) 10,027 −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2020 census

Kemper County Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 2,812 31.29%
Black or African American 5,486 61.04%
Native American 460 5.12%
Asian 6 0.07%
Pacific Islander 1 0.01%
Other/Mixed 156 1.74%
Hispanic or Latino 67 0.75%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 8,988 people, 3,611 households, and 2,201 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 10,456 people living in the county. 60.1% were Black or African American, 35.3% White, 3.7% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.1% of some other race and 0.7% of two or more races. 0.5% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

Electric power plant

Kemper County Coal Gasification Plant
The Kemper Project power plant

In 2010, the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved the construction of a lignite coal plant in Kemper County to be financed by electricity customers in twenty-three southeastern Mississippi counties being served by Mississippi Power Company. It is designed as a model project to use gasification and carbon-capture technologies at this scale.

The plant was strongly opposed by former Republican State Chairman Clarke Reed of Greenville, who favored a less-expensive natural gas-fueled plant. Reed called the project "...a horrible thing." He said it would be a political issue that could be used against Republicans for years.

The Kemper Project was scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2016, more than two years behind schedule. Its cost increased to $6.6 billion—three times original cost estimate. As of February 2017, the project was still not in service, and the cost had increased to $7.1 billion.



Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town


Public school districts

  • Kemper County School District

Kemper County is within the service area of the East Mississippi Community College system. The main campus of EMCC, including the college system's administrative headquarters, is in the Scooba Campus in Scooba.

Notable residents

Eddie Briggs, 28th Lt. Governor of Mississippi
Sampson Jackson, who currently serves in the Mississippi State Senate, was born in Preston
John J. Pettus, 23rd Governor of Mississippi, previously represented Kemper County in the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Mississippi State Senate
J.H. Rush, who founded the first private hospital in Meridian
United States Senator John C. Stennis, who served from 1947 to 1988, was born in Kemper County

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