Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area

Mississippi Summer Arts Institute camps filling up quickly

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area | No Comments

The arts education department at the Bologna Performing Arts Center is gearing up for the 2018 Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute camps (MSAI). Now in its 21st summer of operation, MSAI has impacted the lives of countless emerging artists by providing one-of-a-kind opportunities for campers to gain exposure in multiple artistic disciplines. Two camps will be offered this summer for children ages 5-18.

CORE Arts Camp is a two-week residential intensive camp held on campus at Delta State University. Students create their own class schedule in a five-period-per-day format, attending hour-long courses in the performing, visual, digital and literary arts.

This year’s camp is scheduled for June 3-16, and limited residential spots remain. Non-residential options with lower fees are available for local students who wish to attend daily classes and activities, but who do not wish to stay in the dorms. Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate artistic merit and significant financial need on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information on scholarships, contact the arts education office at 662-846-4844.

CORE Arts classes are taught by leading artistic faculty from the state of Mississippi as well as artistic professionals from around the nation. Funding from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area will help to bring the poet laureate of the state, Beth Ann Fennelly, onto Delta State’s campus to lead the literary arts courses at CORE Arts this year, as well as Dr. Alphonso Sanders, chair of the fine arts program and director of the B.B. King Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. Sanders will lead a history of blues and instrumentation course while at camp. Other classes scheduled for CORE Arts camp include ballet, mixed media, paper sculpture, comic-book drawing, musical theatre and more.

Space is still available for young artists ages 5-11 to attend PLUS Camp from July 16-21, a high-energy, performance-oriented day camp. Campers learn a choreographed medley of songs and attend other classes throughout the day, including storytelling, mixed media textiles, ceramics and music. A final performance on July 21 showcases the hard work and dedication of PLUS Campers.

Interested campers can download hard-copy applications or pick them up from the BPAC, or fill out an online application at For more information, stop by the BPAC or call Cade Holder, arts education coordinator, at 662-846-4844.

The 2018 Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute is sponsored in part by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, the American Legion Delta Post 1776, the Mississippi Arts Commission, Entergy, AT&T, the King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Hey Joe’s, Dominos Pizza, the Crosstie Arts Council and the EPHIC Women’s Club.

National Park Service considers Mississippi Civil Rights sites for park designation, seeks public input

By | Delta Center, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, National Parks Service | No Comments

ATLANTA – The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced it has begun to examine key civil rights sites in Mississippi for possible designation as a national park area and invites the public to weigh-in at the start of the project that could run two years.

“Rigorous research and public opinion help our nation’s leaders determine whether a resource of national significance should be added to the National Park System,” said Ben West, southeast regional chief for planning and compliance with the National Park Service. “The public’s voice is critical to this process. We welcome widespread participation as the National Park Service considers Mississippi-based civil rights sites and stories that helped shape our nation’s history.”


In 2017, the U.S. Congress passed a law directing NPS to conduct a special resource study of Mississippi’s nationally significant civil rights sites, such as:

The home in Jackson where civil rights activist Medgar Evers resided with his wife and was killed in 1963.
Sites in the Mississippi Delta related to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till on August 28, 1955, including Bryant’s store and Tallahatchie County Courthouse.
The Old Neshoba County jail in Philadelphia, Miss., where civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were held for a speeding violation prior to being released and murdered by a mob for registering black voters in 1964. The Reverends Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy Sr. included the jail in a heralded voter registration march two years later.
The Biloxi office of Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr. who was a principal organizer of “wade-ins” beginning in 1959 to desegregate Biloxi’s public beaches. He also helped organize voter registration drives and led other civil rights initiatives for 33 years.

Other related sites in the state not specifically listed in the legislation may be identified and added to the list of potential study locations.

The purpose of this special resource study is to gather information about the sites through historical research and public input and evaluate the sites’ potential for inclusion into the NPS system. The findings – which are reported to Congress through the U.S. Secretary of the Interior – will center on the sites’ national significance, suitability, feasibility and need for direct NPS management. Special resource studies can take place over a two-year period, depending on the findings.

The NPS is providing multiple opportunities for public comment and participation during the initial phase of the special resource study to better assess public interest and support.

NPS will hold six Open House forums across Mississippi from May 7 to 10.
The NPS study team will explain the special resource study process at the forums, answer questions and gather important information and ideas from the public concerning the study. All Open House forums are free and open to the public.

Open Houses are scheduled for:

Monday, May 7, 2018, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Delta Center for Culture and Learning / Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
Delta State University
Jacob Conference Center, Ewing Hall
Highway 8 West
Cleveland, Mississippi 38733

Monday, May 7, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.
Tallahatchie County Courthouse and Emmett Till Interpretive Center
120 North Court Street
Sumner, Mississippi 38957

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Two Mississippi Museums Auditorium
222 North Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39201

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.
Medgar Evers Library
4215 Medgar Evers Blvd
Jackson, Mississippi 39213

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.
The Depot
256 West Beacon Street
Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.
Biloxi Visitor Center
1050 Beach Boulevard
Biloxi, Mississippi 39201

Written comments are requested by June 1, 2018 and may be submitted during the Open House forums, online at or through postal mail to:

Mississippi Civil Rights Sites Special Resource Study
Attn: Justin Henderson
National Park Service- Denver Service Center
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, CO 80228

For further information, contact NPS project manager Justin Henderson at 303-969-2540 or Ben West at 404-507-5700.


Many historians identify the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the exoneration of his killers as one of the defining moments of the modern civil rights movement in America. This period culminated in Mississippi with the 1964 Freedom Summer project to register African American voters and seat Freedom Party delegates at the Democratic National Convention. That year was also marked by the murders of Mississippi Freedom Summer volunteers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. During the decade in between, the struggle for civil rights and equality in deeply segregated Mississippi was shaped by people who risked their lives and faced adversity in their quest for freedom.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Sites Special Resource Study explores the most significant people and places representing civil rights history in Mississippi. Information about these sites, the special resource study process, project status updates and more are available at