A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 11, 2008
“Thank God for Mississippi” ("Thank Heaven for Mississippi")

The state of Mississippi is often ranked last among all states in educational and in poverty scores. Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and other states breathe a sigh of relief for not being last, stating: “Thank God for Mississippi!”

“Thank God for Mississippi” is cited in print from at least 1945, when there were 48 states in the United States. “Thank Heaven for Mississippi” is less frequently used.


Urban Dictionary
Thank God for Mississippi
Mississippi is stereotyped as being at the top of bad categories (crime), and at the bottom of good categories (education). “Thank God for Mississippi” is often used in relief, because statistically speaking, Mississippi will be worse off than your state.
When he got the new rankings of primary education by state, the state superintendent of education exclaimed “Thank God for Mississippi” in relief.
by koalaroo May 26, 2008

26 August 1945, Anniston (AL) Star, pg. 4, col. 1:
...Alabama cannot afford longer to lag behind the rest of the nation, and especially the rest of the states here in the South; although in this instance, as in others, we still can thank God for Mississippi for having kept us no nearer the bottom than we now are.

28 March 1946, Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS), “Thank God for Mississippi,” pg. 4, col. 1:
Reading through a copy of the current Collier’s Magazine, our faces turned red upon learning that the slogan of a group of people trying to improve Kentucky was “Thank God for Mississippi—and sometimes Arkansas.”
(...)
Maybe we’ll live to see the day when, like Texans, people from around here can pound their chests and say “Thank God, I’m from Mississippi.”

25 July 1946, Lincoln (NE) Journal, pg. 10, col. 2:
REFERRING TO the low amount of state funds spent on education in Nebraska, Mrs. Allen said, “We used to say, ‘Thank God for Mississippi, we’ll never be last.’”

Time magazine
Hot Rock of Hot Springs
Monday, Aug. 07, 1950
(...)
McMath made much of what he was going to do for Arkansas in the way of schools, roads and public works. It was good campaign talk in a state that runs 47th in many measurements of standards of living. Arkansawyers have a wry joke about it: “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Google Books
A Southern Reader
By Willard Thorp
New York, NY: Knopf
1955
Pg. 428:
At some time or other every Southern state has had reason to say: “Thank God for Mississippi.” Louisiana is almost as complex.

Google Books
Montgomery, Alabama: A City in Crisis
By William T. Gay
New York, NY: Exposition Press
1957
Pg. 77:
When people in Alabama looked at such tabulations, they might say “Thank God for Mississippi! It keeps Alabama from being on the bottom.

Google Books
Neither Black Nor White
By Wilma Dykeman and James Stokely
Published by Rinehart
1957
Pg. 49:
You know, Arkansas says thank God for Mississippi. We keep her from being forty-eighth on every national list.

2 October 1957, Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram, pg. A10, cols. 4-5:
Winthrop Rockefeller’s potential role in Arkansas is perhaps best described by natives of the state when they say: “Thank Heaven for Mississippi, or we’d be at the tail end of the 48 states in educational opportunity and per capita income.”

Sports Illustrated
February 07, 1983
Scorecard
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
For all the joshing about “Thank God for Mississippi,” Alabamians really didn’t like vying with that state for last place in too many things.

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From: (Roy Navarre)
Date: 1996/10/02
Subject: Re: SHAQ SUCKS!

In Louisiana they say thank god for mississippi and arkansas. In Mississippi they say ‘thank god for texas.’

Google Books
Thank God for Mississippi
By Elizabeth Price, Mike Bolton
Published by Seacoast Pub Inc.
1997

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From: who
Date: 1997/02/12
Subject: Thank God......

When groups of Alabamians have gathered to bemoan the poor economic conditions of the state compared to the rest of the nation or region, a common refrain has been “Thank God for Mississippi!” As bad as things had been in the state, we could always count on them having been worse in Mississippi.  Not any more.  Alabama may well have won those bragging rights, at least as they apply to higher education.

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From: JohnNY2K Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 00:38:27 -0700
Local: Thurs, Aug 17 2000 2:38 am
Subject: Re: NBC- Only in Texas

No, Bill, don’t have ‘em handy, but when you’re close to the worst in so many categories, the point’s almost moot - if GW has improved things as much as he claims, TX sure hasn’t moved up in the standings.  The long running joke is - “thank god for Mississippi!” - they keep TX off the bottom.

And if TX has slipped down during GW’s tenure, obviously his statements are merely “misleading nonsense”.

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From: Bush Busta
Date: Sun, 02 Feb 2003 00:20:54 GMT
Local: Sat, Feb 1 2003 7:20 pm
Subject: Mississippi says “Thank Gawd for Texas.”

Mississippi says “Thank Gawd for Texas.”

Polly Ross Hughes, The Houston Chronicle
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/1760034
AUSTIN—Don’t dis Mississippi before you get the facts, governor.

Perhaps you’re stuck in the past, the days when Texas politicians justified their tight-fisted ways by chuckling, “Thank God for
Mississippi.”

Perhaps you’re thinking of political satirist Molly Ivins’ comment that “the entire justification for Mississippi is so Texas won’t be
50th.”

Or maybe you’re thinking about Mississippi paying welfare mothers with two children even less than Texas—$113 a month versus $170 in the Lone Star State.

But, before upsetting the people of the deeply Southern state by telling reporters “I don’t want to become Mississippi,” Gov. Rick
Perry, you might want to check the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I considered it a slap,” Mississippi House Speaker Tim Ford said Friday, predicting his letter of protest will reach Perry next week.

Burnt Orange Report
Texas Republicans Poor on Poverty
by: Michael Hurta
Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:11 AM CDT
Regardless of anyone’s opinions of the 2006 election cycle, a phrase that the Democrats’ Gubernatorial Candidate often used seemed to stick in the memories of many.  Personally, it was my favorite line of the cycle.

“Thank God for Mississippi.”

I cannot be sure if Mississippi is worse than Texas on poverty issues, but the point of the statement was to highlight the failures of our Republican leaders to help Texans. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, October 11, 2008 • Permalink