The advice from the front office at East Side High in Cleveland, Mississippi, is clear. Lurk in the corridor with the kids and the school principal, Dr Randy Grierson, is bound to show up shortly.

With boisterous laughter, the lady adds: "You can't miss him - he is the only Caucasian adult in the building!"

It helps to have a sense of humour if you're an African-American here in the Mississippi Delta, an area famous for its pockets of grinding poverty and racial discrimination that some say has barely dissipated in 50 years.

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