NEH Most Southern Place on Earth scholars gather at Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, internationally renowned rural juke joint in Merigold, MS
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced $43.1 million in awards for 218 humanities projects across the country. The grants include the first awards made under NEH’s new Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant program, which will support infrastructure projects at 29 U.S. cultural institutions in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
This round of funding, NEH’s third and last for fiscal year 2018, will support vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. These peer-reviewed grants were awarded in addition to $47 million in annual operating support provided to the national network of state and local humanities councils during fiscal year 2018.
“From nationally broadcast documentaries to summer workshops for high school teachers, the projects receiving funding today strengthen and sustain the cultural life of our nation and its citizens,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede.
The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University is among 15 institutions that received Landmarks of American History and Culture grants. These grants support one-week workshops for a national audience of K-12 educators that enhance and strengthen humanities teaching at the K-12 level.
This is the tenth year that The Delta Center’s “Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History, and Culture of the Mississippi Delta” workshop has been funded by NEH.
“We are honored that NEH has funded Most Southern again, making summer 2019 the program’s tenth anniversary,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and co-director of the workshop. “Our region is making considerable strides in cultural heritage development through Delta State and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. We look forward to immersing our participants in this dynamic place by engaging them with scholars, performers, and residents who are telling Delta stories through Blues, civil rights, food, and expressions of faith.”
Over the past decade, the NEH Most Southern workshops have developed a dedicated network of over 600 alumni scholars who serve as educational and cultural ambassadors for Delta State University and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA). The workshops use an experiential learning approach, engaging participants directly with historically and culturally significant people and places in the MDNHA.
Workshop participants take what they have learned back to their schools and communities, sharing stories and lessons from the MDNHA with students, colleagues, family and friends, nationally and globally. Many past participants have made return visits to the region, bringing students, colleagues, family and friends with them.
“This year, we had participants from Hawaii, Illinois, and New York, as well as several scholars from right here in Mississippi,” said Lee Aylward, program associate for education and community outreach at The Delta Center and workshop co-director. “Our alumni are actively engaged with and have enduring respect for The Delta Center, Delta State and the Delta region because of this workshop. Several of them have presented at our International Conference on the Blues and have completed the International Blues Scholars Program, our online Blues Studies certificate.”
Earlier this year, the National Humanities Alliance recognized Most Southern as a high impact NEH program in several key measurement areas, including Enriching K-12 Education; Providing Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Diverse Audiences; Facilitating Community Dialogue; Fostering Local Tourism Economies; and Promoting Civic Education.
The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the NEH Most Southern Place on Earth workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltacenterdsu.com.
The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the Congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at http://www.msdeltaheritage.com.