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Delta Center

Delta Jewels with Alysia Burton Steele, Dr. Rolando Herts, and Jacqueline Dace, former project manager of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum at the 2015 Winning the Race conference. The Delta Jewels oral history partnership program will return to Delta State on Wednesday, February 17.

MDNHA, Delta Center honor Black History Month with Delta Jewels partners

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership has yielded a series of events promoting oral history education and awareness. These events have commemorated the 2016 National Park Service Centennial, which aims to engage diverse communities and develop lifelong connections with the public, especially youth.

The MDNHA continues its celebration of the NPS Centennial through the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. In February, the MDNHA is presenting the following oral history partnership programs in honor of Black History Month:

 Wednesday, February 17, hosted by the Diversity Committee at Delta State University

 Thursday, February 25, hosted by the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Vicksburg

 Friday, February 26, hosted by the Alcorn State University Wesley Foundation to be held in Norman

The Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership was formed in 2015 and features “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a collection of oral histories and photographs of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalism professor Alysia Burton Steele from the University of Mississippi. Since that time, Delta Jewels has been entered into the Library of Congress.

Steele also has been selected to receive the Preserver of Mississippi Culture Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council on Friday, February 12 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the MDNHA and The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, nominated Steele for the award.

“I am so grateful that the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, The Delta Center, and the Mississippi Humanities Council see the importance of this work,” said Steele. “I partnered with the MDNHA to share oral histories throughout the state. This has helped spread the message that all of our elders – regardless of race, place, or gender – have voices and stories that need to be heard and collected by the next generation. By doing this, we all can be preservers of Mississippi culture.”

The partnership has engaged over 500 Delta residents and visitors through community gatherings in Clarksdale, Charleston, Indianola, Yazoo City, Ruleville, and Mound Bayou, as well as Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena. Another program was held recently at Jackson State University in collaboration with the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute @ COFO and the Margaret Walker Center.

“We are very pleased that there is ongoing demand for the Delta Jewels oral history programs,” said Herts. “Based on the positive feedback that we have received so far, it is clear that these programs have tremendous educational and cultural value that resonate with communities in and outside of the Delta region.”

Stacey Massey, Executive Director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, is excited about hosting a Delta Jewels program in Vicksburg.

“The Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation is thrilled to play host to the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership,” said Massey. “We are honored to provide a space where these oral histories and portraits will be shared with those in the Vicksburg community.”

This will be the second time that a Delta Jewels program has been presented at Delta State and the first time at Alcorn State. Alcorn State is the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the United States and is included on the board of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

To learn more about hosting a Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership, contact Rolando Herts at rherts@deltastate.edu, or call The Delta Center at 662-846-4311.

The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The area 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 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. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Delta Center staff members recently greeted National Park Travelers Club members with MDNHA National Park Service Centennial passport t-shirts. Pictured are (l to r): Delta Center grad assistant Lydia Haley, David Kroese, Delta Center grad assistant Stephanie Green, Deborah Archer, Leland Warzala, and Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center

National Park Travelers Club members visit The Delta Center

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Members of the National Park Travelers Club visited The Delta Center for Culture and Learning on the campus of Delta State this week. The group is touring the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area collecting National Park Service passport stamps as a way to celebrate the 2016 National Park Service Centennial.

Leland Warzala (Springfield, Illinois), Deborah Archer (Norfolk, Viginia) and David Kroese (Loves Park, Illinois), visited the center to collect their MDNHA passport stamp, which is part of the NPS’ Passport to Your National Parks program. The three NPS passport enthusiasts have been traveling the MDNHA this month collecting stamps in each Delta county. Their Delta traveling adventure has yielded a series of interesting discoveries and pleasant surprises.

The travelers visited cultural heritage attractions throughout the region where passport stations are located, including the Gateway to the Blues Museum and Visitor Center in Tunica and Tallahatchie County Courthouse where the Emmett Till trial took place in 1955.

“Last night, each of us stayed in separate hotels in Clarksdale, just to get a sense of the different hotel options there,” said Archer. “We have been eating at different restaurants, too. Delta food is so delicious. We are working our way to Yazoo City next where we will stay tonight.”

While visiting The Delta Center, they learned about the internationally renowned rural juke joint Po’ Monkey’s Lounge in Merigold, an easy stop on the way to Rosedale, where the Bolivar County passport stamp is available in the Chancery Clerk’s office at the county courthouse.

They also learned about the MDNHA’s NPS centennial passport t-shirt. This collector’s item is awarded to travelers who gather all passport stamps in the MDNHA. Currently, there are 22 passport stamps across the region. This number is expected to grow as the MDNHA passport program continues to gain momentum.

Warzala gave kudos to the MDNHA and The Delta Center for managing a well organized and geographically diverse passport program.

“We would not have known about all of the interesting places to visit in the Delta had it not been for this program,” said Warzala. “We knew that we had to visit all of the counties here, because we wanted to get all of the stamps. We had no idea that there are so many great things to see and do along the way, like the Crossroads sign [in Clarksdale], Dockery Farms and all of the Blues Trail markers.”

The MDNHA launched its participation in the Passport to Your National Parks program in November 2014 with the goal of making passport stations available in each of the MDNHA’s 18 counties. By the spring of 2015, this goal was accomplished. Since then, additional regional partners in Washington and Coahoma counties have signed on to host passport stations, including the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and the Jim Henson Museum of the Frog and the Highway 61 Blues Museum, both in Leland. The full list of MDNHA passport locations is available at http://www.msdeltaheritage.com/.

Lee Aylward (left) of The Delta Center speaks with National Park Travelers Club visitors about Mississippi Delta attractions.

Lee Aylward (left) of The Delta Center speaks with National Park Travelers Club visitors about Mississippi Delta attractions.

Kroese praised the state of Mississippi for supporting National Heritage Areas.

“There is no other state where you will find three distinct National Heritage Areas that offer such rich cultural heritage resources,” he said. “As a passport collector, I have traveled to national parks all over the country. What you have here in Mississippi with the Delta, Hills and Gulf Coast heritage areas is a real treasure. They are connected and tell great stories about music, food, literature and people.”

The travel companions plan to encourage other National Park Travelers Club members to visit the Mississippi Delta, as well as the Mississippi Hills and Gulf Coast National Heritage Areas. They also look forward to returning to Cleveland and Delta State after GRAMMY Museum Mississippi opens.

Warzala said, “The Beatles is the first exhibit that will be shown at the GRAMMY Museum? I am definitely coming back.”

Mississippi Delta-based municipalities, businesses, cultural attractions, heritage sites or other organizations that are interested in participating in the Passport Program should contact The Delta Center regarding the application process. For more information, call 662-846-4311 or email Heather Miller at hmiller@deltastate.edu.

To learn more about the National Park Travelers Club, visit http://www.parkstamps.org. To learn more about the NPS Centennial, visit www.nps.gov/2016.

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 National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the NPS. 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.

MDNHA

MDNHA to provide grant workshops

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a cultural heritage partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The program is led by Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University.

This year, in fulfillment of its management plan, the MDNHA is launching a new grants program. A series of regional workshops will be held to educate and inform the people of the Mississippi Delta on how to apply for these grants.

The dates, times and locations for the workshops are:

(all workshops are scheduled to take place from 1:30-4 p.m.)

*Jan. 14, 2016
Clarksdale/Coahoma County Tourism
326 Blues Alley, Clarksdale, MS

*Jan. 19, 2016
Mississippi Valley State University
Auditorium 103, first floor of William Sutton Administration Building
14000 HWY 82 W, Itta Bena, MS

*Jan. 26, 2016
Sharkey-Issaquena County Library
116 East China Street, Rolling Fork, MS

*Jan. 28, 2016
The Capps Center, Room 101
920 US-82, Indianola, MS

For more information, contact The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311, or email hmiller@deltastate.edu.

The MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. 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 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. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

NEH-NOLA-social-studies

Delta Center presents at national conference for social studies educators

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The staff of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State recently presented at the National Association of Social Studies Teachers’ annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The presentation, “Transforming Classrooms Through Experiences in the Mississippi Delta,” highlighted The Delta Center’s National Endowment for the Humanities workshop “The Most Southern Place on Earth, the Music, Culture and History of the Mississippi Delta.”

The conference was attended by social studies teachers from across the country. The presentation was organized and planned by two former “Most Southern” workshop participants Heidi Imhof and Kelly Scallion, both high school history teachers from Fairbanks, Alaska. The duo participated in the 2010 workshop.

“We wanted this presentation to serve as a way to repay The Delta Center for all that was shared with us and to document how that information continues to be shared with our students and communities all across the United States,” said Imhof.

“We cannot begin to tell you how much the Delta means to us,” added Scallion. “This was the least we could do to show our appreciation for opening a new chapter in each of our lives.”

Imhof and Scallion served as moderators for the presentation. In addition to an overview of the workshop provided by TDC staff, the presentation featured 10 additional former workshop participants from Buffalo, New York, Phoenix, Arizona, Columbus, Ohio, Tennessee, as well as two Mississippi teachers from Jackson and Columbus. These presenters discussed Delta cultural heritage educational topics used in their classrooms, including Emmett Till, Freedom Summer and blues music.

Presentation attendees were treated to Delta Blues music selections, as well as tastes of hot tamales and koolickles, which are celebrated Delta food delicacies. The moderators also gave special thanks to members of TDC staff who facilitated the 2010 workshop, including Dr. Luther Brown, Dr. Henry Outlaw, Lee Aylward and Heather Miller.

TDC is preparing to host its seventh year of the workshop in the summer of 2016. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2016 workshop. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/mostsouthern/.

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 http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

Dr. Rolando Herts (center) with National Heritage Areas program representatives Heather Scotten (left) and Martha Raymond at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s PastForward Conference in Washington, D.C.

MDNHA, Delta Center highlighted at National Trust conference

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Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, was recently invited to represent both organizations in a panel discussion at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2015 PastForward Conference in Washington, D.C.

The conference launched a year-long celebration of the National Historic Preservation Act’s 50th anniversary, attracting hundreds of historic preservation scholars, policymakers, experts and activists from around the nation.

The session was part of the preservationVOICES Learning Lab presentation track organized by the National Trust in partnership with the National Park Service and the Kellogg Foundation. The session, “Recognizing Our Shared History,” focused on how the NPS works to tell inclusive stories of all Americans, reflecting national values of social and environmental justice.

Over 150 conference guests attended the session. Among those in attendance were Martha Raymond and Heather Scotten, NPS colleagues from the National Heritage Areas Program office in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Rolando Herts. Photo by David Keith.

Dr. Rolando Herts. Photo by David Keith.

“How meaningful to have the National Heritage Areas program represented by Dr. Herts in this national forum, telling the story of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and the important work of The Delta Center and partners,” said Raymond.

“Through their educational programs and partnerships, National Heritage Areas play a critical role in racial healing and in the social and environmental justice movement, which is precisely why heritage area leaders like Dr. Herts were invited to the preservationVOICES track,” said Scotten. “Dr. Herts is a wonderful ambassador for the National Heritage Areas program. The work of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and The Delta Center is creating opportunities for greater dialog about the history of the Delta, as well as past and current Delta residents.”

Herts’s presentation, “Telling the Delta’s Story: Recognizing Our Shared History Through Partnerships,” discussed the MDNHA’s and The Delta Center’s collaborative work with Delta State’s Winning the Race conference and the International Conference on the Blues, as well as Mississippi Valley State University’s BB King Day and the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership Program.

“Participating in this Learning Lab was both informative and inspiring,” said Herts. “The National Park Service is doing important work in communities across the country to give voice to diverse cultural heritage perspectives. The panel session illuminated this work with tangible examples that conference attendees seemed to find very useful.”

Other panelists included NPS representatives Dr. Elaine Jackson-Retondo, National Historic Landmarks program manager; Nigel Fields, acting deputy associate director for Interpretation, Education and Volunteers; and Carol Shively, coordinator for the Civil War to Civil Rights Commemoration. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Luis Hoyos, professor of architecture at Cal Poly Pomona.

“Recognizing Our Shared History” panelists were led by moderator Dr. Luis Hoyos. Photo by David Keith.

“Recognizing Our Shared History” panelists were led by moderator Dr. Luis Hoyos. Photo by David Keith.

The National Heritage Areas Program team also displayed MDNHA informational materials and Mississippi tourism brochures at the NPS Find Your Park booth.

To learn more about the 2015 PastForward conference, visit http://pastforwardconference.org/.