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Delta Center

Delta Center staff members Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi with Ross Barkley of Eley Barkley P.A. Engineering and Architecture (center), Jimmie Tucker of Self and Tucker Architects (far right), and the University of Memphis National Organization of Minority Architects Student Competition Team.

Delta Center organizes museum tours for architecture students

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During the spring 2016 semester, The Delta Center For Culture and Learning has hosted several student groups visiting the region from a variety of higher education institutions, including Mississippi State University, Harvard Law School, Yale University and Emory University.

Most recently, The Delta Center arranged two museum architectural tours for members of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) from the University of Memphis. The students visited GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi on Delta State’s campus and the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.

The NOMAS design competition team is developing a cultural heritage museum concept for Los Angeles’ historic Crenshaw district. The group of students was sponsored by Jimmie Tucker of Self and Tucker Architects, a Memphis-based firm that has designed the National Civil Rights Museum, STAX Museum and FedExForum.

Ross Barkley discusses Mississippi Delta cultural heritage elements used in designing GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi.

Ross Barkley discusses Mississippi Delta cultural heritage elements used in designing GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi.

“This national student competition is requiring our architecture students to incorporate design elements that reflect local cultural heritage,” said Tucker. “These tours provided insights and a back story that we would never have been aware of just by visiting these museums by ourselves.”

“The Delta Center continues to fulfill its mission by providing place-based learning opportunities for students and visitors from around the state, the nation and the world,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “These customized educational experiences about the Mississippi Delta can only happen when groups come to visit us here in the Mississippi Delta.”

Lee Aylward of The Delta Center made arrangements for the students to experience a personalized tour of the GRAMMY Museum with Ross Barkley of Eley Barkley P.A. Engineering and Architecture. Barkley was one of the lead architects for the museum. The Eley Barkley firm is based in Cleveland.

“Mr. Barkley showed us program, concept and schematic design documents,” said Tucker. “These are excellent examples that our students will be able to use to ignite and inform their design process.” 

“Ross Barkley’s expertise in bringing projects like this to completion was invaluable to its final outcome,” added Aylward. “The GRAMMY Museum will stand as a testament to his talent and ability.”

During their visit to the B.B. King Museum, the students toured the existing museum structure and discussed plans for the museum’s expansion with Robert Terrell, director of operations. The expansion includes a memorial courtyard for the late B.B. King, known as the King of the Blues and Mississippi’s Secretary of the State of the Blues.

Robert Terrell talks with NOMAS members about plans for the B.B. King Memorial Courtyard.

Robert Terrell talks with NOMAS members about plans for the B.B. King Memorial Courtyard.

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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 center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit www.deltacenterdsu.com.

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GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi And Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Launch New Website Featuring Top 40 Mississippi Delta Attractions

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CLEVELAND — To recognize their commitment to promoting educational and cultural quality of life in the Mississippi Delta region, GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) have partnered to develop a new website showcasing the Top 40 places to visit in the Mississippi Delta. Delta residents and visitors can discover 40 of the most celebrated locations in the Mississippi Delta beginning today by visiting GRAMMYMuseumMS.org and clicking on the Explore tab.

The Top 40 features cultural heritage attractions throughout the Mississippi Delta that tell the region’s diverse stories. The website underscores the Museum and MDNHA’s shared interest in promoting the entire 18-county Mississippi Delta region as an educational cultural heritage destination of which its residents should be proud.

“As GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, we explore and celebrate the enduring legacies of all forms of music, and we’re also telling the story of the cradle of America’s music right here in Cleveland, the heart of the Mississippi Delta,” said Emily Havens, Executive Director of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. “Our area’s rich musical legacy is a source of pride for Delta residents. We want to encourage everyone to explore and learn about our entire region, from local school groups to travelers from around the globe.”

The Top 40 features panoramic images of some must-see destinations and attractions throughout the Delta. Among the featured attractions are Tunica River Park, the birthplace of internationally renowned actor James Earl Jones; Baptist Town in Greenwood; Vicksburg National Military Park; Cotesworth Mansion in North Carrollton; St. Paul Church of God in Christ in Lexington; and unique local eateries like Blue Front Café in Bentonia and Farmer’s Grocery in Grace.

“The Top 40 celebrates the Mississippi Delta’s rich, diverse culture,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, which is the management entity for the MDNHA. “GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and the Heritage Area both are committed to promoting the entire Delta. Yes, the Delta is the birthplace of the Blues, and music is a big part of our story, but there is so much more to discover and experience here, such as civil rights, culinary, and nature-based heritage sites. The Top 40 website highlights examples of these diverse cultural heritage attractions across the Delta region.”

Top 40 attractions were identified in collaboration with the Mississippi Delta Tourism Association and various county boards of supervisors throughout the region. Each of the 18 Delta counties has two attractions represented on the list. Four of the attractions are region-wide, including Bridging the Blues music heritage festival and the Mississippi Freedom Trail for civil rights heritage.

“We appreciate GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area for coordinating the Top 40 list,” said Webster Franklin, President and CEO of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau and member of the Mississippi Delta Tourism Association. “This is a great program that will bring positive attention to the entire region.”

There are plans to develop the Top 40 even further during a second phase that would make the website even more interactive and participatory.

About GRAMMY Museum Mississippi
Built and operated by the Cleveland Music Foundation — a non-profit organization developed in 2011 — the 28,000-square-foot GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is housed near the campus of Delta State University, home of the Delta Music Institute’s Entertainment Industry Studies program, which features the most unique audio recording facilities in the South. Similar to its sister Museum — the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE — GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music, and the cultural context from which it emerges, while casting a focused spotlight on the deep musical roots of Mississippi. The Museum features a dynamic combination of public events, educational programming, engaging multimedia presentations, and interactive permanent and traveling exhibits, including a Mississippi-centric area that introduces visitors to the impact of Mississippi’s songwriters, producers and musicians on the traditional and modern music landscape. For more information about GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, visit www.grammymuseumms.org. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @GRAMMYMuseumMS on Twitter and Instagram, and like “GRAMMY Museum Mississippi” on Facebook.

About the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and The Delta Center
The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area 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 www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University is the management entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. 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. For more information, visit www.deltacenterdsu.com.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Vickie Jackson
GRAMMY Museum Mississippi
vjackson@grammymuseumms.org

Annyce Campbell of Mound Bayou, whose portrait graces the cover of "Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisdom," recently enjoyed a visit to the White House.

MDNHA, Delta Jewels partnership visits the White House

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When University of Mississippi journalism professor Alysia Burton Steele embarked on a journey to record oral histories from African American church women in the Mississippi Delta over three years ago, she was not sure exactly where the journey would take her.

It started at as labor of love to reconnect with her recently deceased grandmother, which led to the publishing of her critically acclaimed book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.” The book led to an oral history partnership with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, a partnership that culminated in an opportunity for Annyce Campbell, featured on the book cover, to visit the White House in Washington, D.C.

“When they said they wanted the woman whose portrait graces the book cover to attend the presentation, I knew that we had to get Mrs. Campbell to the White House,” said Steele. “She was so proud when President Obama was elected. So much so that the walls in her home are filled with portraits of the president and first lady.”

The visit occurred March 12 during a trip to the nation’s capital for a presentation at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. The Smithsonian program was held in honor of Women’s History Month and the National Park Service Centennial, which is about reconnecting people with their national parks, especially those from underrepresented communities. The White House is part of President’s Park, a National Park Service site.

Campbell still lives in the Mound Bayou, Mississippi home where she and her husband of 69 years raised their nine children. The election of the first African American President of the United States was something she never imagined would happen in her lifetime. Her goal was to enable her family to have opportunities she never enjoyed. She was thrilled that she and her daughters would get a chance to experience the visit together.

“That moment — visiting the White House with my daughters — was more than my mind could conceive,” said Campbell. “I held my ID in my hand for so long. How many more stops do I get to make? Where do we get to go next? Who do we get to meet? I can’t fully express the joy of that trip. Everyone should have an opportunity like this in their lifetime.”

The trip to the White House was not part of the original itinerary. It wasn’t until Campbell landed in D.C. that the tour was finalized.

Annyce Campbell, seated, poses in the White House with her daughters Alma Campbell and Emily Harris, as well as Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

Annyce Campbell, seated, poses in the White House with her daughters Alma Campbell and Emily Harris, as well as Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

Mossi Tull, board member for the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, sponsored Campbell’s travel to Washington.

“My grandparents were from Kentwood, Louisiana, and I spent many summers down there,” he said. “Visiting with Mrs. Campbell and her daughters brought back so many wonderful memories for me, and reminded me of the importance of my own family. We laughed. We smiled. We celebrated the fact that we were all together in that moment. It was truly a wonderful afternoon.”

Through the efforts of Maggie Tyler, Southeast Region National Heritage Areas program manager, Campbell was able to participate in the tour with her daughters Emily Harris and Alma Campbell, as well as Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State.

“I was so excited to walk up to the White House gates with them and give Mrs. Campbell her tour ticket and introduce her to the NPS ranger working that day,” said Tyler. “Everyone was so gracious to Mrs. Campbell and her daughters and they were all beaming from ear to ear.  It’s these small moments that make me proud to work for the National Park Service.”

The Delta Center serves as the managing entity of the MDNHA. The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta’s history and culture through education, partnerships, and community engagement. According to Herts, serendipitous moments like this are precisely why their efforts are so important.

“This White House visit is significant on so many levels,” said Herts. “It represents a lifelong dream come true for Mrs. Campbell, her family and her community. It represents the kind of powerful connections that are being made between people and national parks, which is what the National Park Service Centennial is all about. And it represents a story that will be told again and again, which is part of a rich oral history tradition that we are celebrating and honoring with Alysia Burton Steele.”

Steele spent the early years of her career as a photojournalist and editor. She never viewed herself as an oral historian, but through the Delta Jewels project has discovered the craft to be her new passion. Working with the MDNHA and The Delta Center, Steele has been empowered to share the importance of telling stories that have often been left untold and to demonstrate the positive effect conversations can have on communities.

“It’s pretty simple, really, why this important. We’re not going to learn and grow if we don’t talk to each other,” said Steele.

Reena Evers, daughter of Medgar Evars and Myrlie Evers-Williams, enbraces Annyce Campbell after a presentation of "Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisdom" at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC.

MDNHA, Delta Center partner with Delta Jewels author for Smithsonian presentation

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Annyce Campbell has lived in the same house in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, for over two-thirds of her life. She raised 12 children in the home, teaching them to respect themselves and to respect their community. She raised them quietly and diligently, wanting them to have more opportunities in their lives than she had in hers.

On March 13, Campbell was recognized for her strength and commitment at a Women’s History Month and National Park Service Centennial presentation at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C. The event was a Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership program organized by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, and University of Mississippi journalism professor Alysia Burton Steele, author of “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.” The book is a collection of oral histories and portraits featuring 54 African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta. Campbell’s portrait is featured on the book’s cover.

“My grandmother used to tell me that you learn something new everyday,” said Campbell. “I passed that on to my own children. You have to learn to love life, to love living, and to be appreciative of every moment we’re given.”

For Steele, the presentation served as a reinforcement for the importance of gathering oral histories. Her family sat in the audience to hear her speak for the first time, finally under-standing what she strives to do as a journalist. Seeing the way the audience embraced Campbell was also a poignant moment.

“Mrs. Campbell was glowing all weekend,” Steele said. “I was so happy to have helped make this trip happen for her.”

Alysia Burton Steele (from left) poses with Annyce Campbell of Mound Bayou, who is featured on the cover of Steele's book "Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisodom." Seated next to Campbell are her daughters Alma Campbell and Emily Harris, also of Mound Bayou.

Alysia Burton Steele (from left) poses with Annyce Campbell of Mound Bayou, who is featured on the cover of Steele’s book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisodom.” Seated next to Campbell are her daughters Alma Campbell and Emily Harris, also of Mound Bayou. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning serves as the managing entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. The MDNHA creates partnerships that promote and empower the Mississippi Delta’s people and communities to tell their stories and to celebrate their pride in the region’s unique and diverse cultural heritage.

“After a year of planning, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is excited to see that this collaborative effort was a success,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center and MDNHA. “This would not have been possible without a team of strategic partners. Mossi Tull, a member of the Smithsonian Anacostia board, sponsored travel for Mrs. Campbell and her family. Maggie Tyler with the National Heritage Areas program made important connections with the National Park Service. And, of course, Alysia Burton Steele’s oral histories and photography provided critical subject matter for educating audience members about the Mississippi Delta’s cultural significance. Everyone brought something to the table.”

The MDNHA is one of 49 National Heritage Areas, which are cultural heritage partnerships with the National Park Service. All areas are being encouraged to commemorate the National Park Service Centennial.

According to Tyler, National Heritage Areas program manager for the National Park Service, this year’s centennial celebrations are intended to engage the next generation of visitors, supporters and advocates, and the 49 congressionally designated Heritage Areas around the country are an integral part of the process.

“National Heritage Areas help us achieve this goal by exposing grassroots movements, heritage tourists, and community members to the benefits of having a partnership with the National Park Service in their community,” said Tyler.

Dr. Rolando Herts (l to r), director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, and Reena Evers, daughter of Medgar Evers and Myrlie Evers-Williams, pose with Maggie Tyler, Martha Raymond and Kathleen Durcan of the National Heritage Areas Program, National Park Service.

Dr. Rolando Herts (l to r), director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, and Reena Evers, daughter of Medgar Evers and Myrlie Evers-Williams, pose with Maggie Tyler, Martha Raymond and Kathleen Durcan of the National Heritage Areas Program, National Park Service. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian presentation attracted over 70 guests who were eager to hear from Steele and Campbell, as well as to learn about the MDNHA. In addition to receiving words of wisdom directly from Campbell, audience members were treated to a presentation from special guest and Mound Bayou native Reena Evers, daughter of civil rights activists Myrlie Evers-Williams and Medgar Evers. Myrlie Evers-Williams also is a Delta Jewel.

Tull, board member of the museum, was moved by the presentation. “Mrs. Evers family has endured, struggled and fought through things no family should have to face,” he said. “Having her speak with such grace, strength and aplomb was a reminder and inspiration for all of us that face difficult situations to endure as well.”

The Smithsonian presentation follows a series of successful Delta Jewels presentations which have engaged over 600 Delta residents and visitors from diverse backgrounds in several Mississippi Delta communities including Clarksdale, Cleveland, Charleston, Indianola, Itta Bena, Mound Bayou, Ruleville, Vicksburg and Yazoo City.

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Delta Center to present First Tuesday Blues session

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University will present a First Tuesday session focused on the International Delta Blues Project on March 15 at 12:10 p.m. in the Fielding Wright Art Center.

The session will have a special focus on the Blues Studies program that has launched at Delta State.

First Tuesday guests will be treated to a lecture from renowned Blues historian Scott Barretta, host of Highway 61 Radio and recipient of the 2016 Mississippi’s Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for Mississippi heritage. Barretta will teach the Sociology of the Blues course for the International Blues Scholars Program, a new online undergraduate and graduate certificate in Blues Studies that is being offered during the 2016 summer session. The online program will be available to Blues students and aficionados around the world.

The Delta Center is the home of the International Delta Blues Project, an initiative aimed at advancing Delta State University as the academic home of the Blues. The project is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation in Jackson and consists of the following components:

 The interdisciplinary Blues Studies program that includes courses offered through various academic units at Delta State including music, languages and literature, social sciences and history, and the Delta Music Institute.

 The International Conference on the Blues, an educational and cultural conference that has featured renowned and emerging Blues scholars, as well as award-winning Blues musicians.

 The Blues Leadership Incubator, a series of lectures and workshops for the public and business community aimed at providing a deeper understanding of economic opportunity related to Blues tourism and the creative economy.

First Tuesday is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and is a program by the Art Department and the First Tuesday Committee. The events are normally scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month during the fall and spring semesters. First Tuesday features lectures, readings and presentations representing diverse perspectives in the arts and humanities. All events are free and open to the public.

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 International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops. For more information, visit www.deltacenterdsu.com.