Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area

Julian Rankin, Author of Book about Mississippi Delta’s Ed Scott, the First Nonwhite Owner and Operator of a Catfish Plant in the U.S., and Scott’s Daughter, Delta State University Alumna Willena Scott-White, to Speak on Campus on Feb. 6

By | Delta Center, Diversity Committee, Graduate and Continuing Studies, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, Press Releases, QEP, Winning the Race | No Comments

Julian Rankin, author of Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta, and Delta State University alumna Willena Scott-White, daughter of the book’s pioneering subject, will speak at Delta State on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, at 6 PM in the Baioni Conference Center in Broom Hall. Read More

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Held Three Free Regional Grant-Writing Workshops

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) held three free regional grant-writing workshops recently to benefit prospective applicants for its FY2019 grant cycle. Workshops were held at the Gale Community Center in Hernando (DeSoto County); the Capps Center in Indianola (Sunflower County); and the Mississippi State University Extension Center in Vicksburg (Warren County). Read More

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Announced

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) has awarded over $200,000 in grants for fourteen projects focused on cultural and heritage development in communities across the Mississippi Delta.

The funded work focuses on the MDNHA’s five themes: The River and the Land, Culture of the Delta Blues, Moving Toward Freedom, Wellspring of Creativity, and Diverse Communities. The grants support learning opportunities for students, museums, documentary films, and the historic preservation of Delta landmarks.

“With this year’s round of funding, MDNHA has now provided almost $550,000 for a wide range of community projects that promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors. “We had a record number of applications this year from over 30 organizations, and the Board is grateful for their participation and commitment.”

“We were fortunate this year in that the proposals addressed most components of MDNHA’s mission, goals and central themes, allowing us to fund a more diverse range of projects,” said Meg Cooper, Chair of the MDNHA Grants Committee. “We were able to make some grants in communities not previously served, and for some really unique projects.”

“MDNHA is working to build and expand a network of community resources and organizations that work together to promote the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, MDNHA executive director and director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, which serves as the management entity for MDNHA. “With this third year of funding through our partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service, this network is a critical part of our mission of preserving, perpetuating and celebrating the heritage of the Mississippi Delta.”

Grant recipients and their funded projects include:

• Charleston Arts and Revitalization Effort (C.A.R.E.), Charleston, MS – $4,300 for a summer arts camp that will engage local youth in studying their community and the land around it through art, photography and written work, resulting in a book and exhibit produced by the students.
• Tutwiler Community Education Center, Tutwiler, MS – $13,825 to preserve the history and increase the capacity of the Tutwiler Quilters by designing a new website with online purchase capability and increasing the use of technology for marketing and promotion of the Quilters.
• Lower Mississippi River Foundation, Clarksdale, MS – $10,000 to provide educational programs and recreational opportunities to connect the Delta’s youth to the Mississippi River, including paddling trips and river conservation activities.
• Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, MS – $5,000 to create a video chronicling the 40-year history of the Museum, for use in welcoming visitors to the Museum, promoting its 40th anniversary in the summer of 2019 and marketing the Museum nationally and internationally.
• Griot Arts, Inc., Clarksdale, MS – $23,575 to create and equip a music studio for local students to record, preserve and broadcast their musical creations and share their work with people around the world through podcasts.
• From the Heart Productions, Kilmichael, MS – $22,680 to produce a documentary film on Fannie Lou Hamer, with an associated K-12 civil rights curriculum based on Ms. Hamer’s life and work, and to train Ruleville area students as production teams to record oral histories.
• Museum of the Mississippi Delta, Greenwood, MS – $24,500 to develop an exhibit that uses the Museum’s archaeological and other artifacts to tell the story of the Delta’s formation, its first Native American inhabitants and the early explorations by Europeans.
• Cleveland Music Foundation, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, Cleveland, MS – $22,550 for two summer music camps for students that promote the musical heritage of the Delta and encourage them to create original works that tell the Delta’s story.
• Delta State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Cleveland, MS – $24,500 to collect and preserve flora and fauna representative of the Delta’s bottomland hardwood forests for display in DSU’s Natural History Museum and for use in educational workshops and activities.
• Delta State University, Department of Music / Division of Languages & Literature, Cleveland, MS – $12,500 to support scholars and performers participating in workshops, clinics and other presentations at the Fifth Annual International Conference on the Blues.
• Mississippi Heritage Trust, Jackson, MS – $6,250 to conduct a Preservation Toolkit Workshop in Vicksburg, MS that will train up to 20 people in real estate development, tax credits and other strategies and tools used in the development and preservation of historic properties.
• Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, Vicksburg, MS – $4,174.50 to interpret the history and cultural significance of the Fort St. Pierre site in the Redwood community as it prepares to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its founding.
• Mississippi Heritage Trust, Jackson, MS – $24,500 to support preservation of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church building in Estill, Washington County, MS, by installing a metal roof, securely storing church pews and furnishings, and engaging the congregation and other residents in developing a long-term plan for use of the building
• Greenville Renaissance Scholars, Greenville, MS – $5,742.27 to produce a documentation on Delta Blues and Civil Rights: The Story of Greenville that will be researched, recorded and showcased by middle school students through after-school activities.

The total of $204,096.77 in grants will be matched by an additional $319,103.84 provided by the applicants and their communities for a total cost of $523,200.61 for all funded projects. The MDNHA Grants Program provides funding of up to $24,500 for local projects, which must be matched on at least a 1:1 basis by in-kind or cash resources. For more information on the Grants Program and funded projects, visit

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

The mission of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning 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

Delta Center hosts Robertson Scholars’ Community Summer internship program

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Summer 2018 Robertson Scholar interns gather in front of the W.C. Handy Blues Trail Marker on the grounds of the Bolivar County Courthouse, downtown Cleveland.


Before working with The Delta Center at Delta State University, Lawton Ives had never heard of koolickles.

“It’s a reddish sweet and sour pickle made with Kool Aid and lots of sugar,” said Ives, a rising sophomore from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. “We have made lots of them for The Most Southern Place on Earth Institute for teachers who come here to learn about Delta food, music and culture.”

For more than 10 years, The Delta Center has hosted summer interns from the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“I am learning so much about how the Delta has influenced the nation and the world,” said Jake Sheridan, a rising sophomore from Duke University interning with The Delta Center. “The Blues, the Civil Rights Movement, slavery and the cotton industry, these stories and so much more are all right here.”

The Delta Center recently held a Robertson Scholars dinner at Mississippi Grounds in Cleveland. Interns and their mentors attended from various Delta community sites including Delta Arts Alliance, Delta Music Institute, GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, St. Gabriel’s Mercy Center, and Sunflower County Freedom Project.

Members of the Robertson Scholars administrative leadership team traveled from North Carolina to attend as well, while conducting Mississippi Delta site visits.

“We call it Community Summer,” said Allen Chan, executive director of the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. “It is a critical social interaction and character building experience for our students. It provides them with a greater understanding of social justice issues that communities are facing throughout the South and the nation.”

“The Delta Center continues to be an excellent lead partner for our Mississippi Delta program,” said Vicki Stocking, director of summer programs for Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. “The Delta Center’s strong connections with organizations and people here in Cleveland and the surrounding area make this a life-changing educational community service experience for our students every year.”

Robertson Scholars with members of The Delta Center team (left to right) Shelia Winters, Jake Sheridan, Dr. Rolando Herts, Lee Aylward, Lawton Ives and Sarah Hicks.

Through a generous $24 million gift from Julian Robertson, a 1955 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, and his wife, Josie, the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program provides a full tuition four-year scholarship to Duke and UNC Chapel Hill freshmen. Serving as a Community Summer volunteer intern is one of the requirements of receiving the scholarship.

“We have loved hosting the Robertson Scholar interns for several years now,” said Lee Aylward, program associate for education and community outreach at The Delta Center. “They learn the importance of giving their time and talents toward improving social conditions in the Mississippi Delta. In turn, organizations increase their capacity to offer community service programs to Delta residents and visitors every summer. It truly is a win-win.”

“Through this partnership, The Delta Center helps to place these very bright student interns with several organizations that are doing important educational and cultural development work in the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center.

Ten Robertson Scholars have been assigned to volunteer in the Mississippi Delta this summer. Their names are listed below by their Delta community organization placements along with their university affiliations and hometowns:

Delta Arts Alliance
Kyle Ryan (Duke), Kennebunkport, ME
Allayne Thomas (Duke), Raleigh, NC

Delta Center for Culture and Learning
Lawton Ives (UNC), Chapel Hill, NC
Jake Sheridan (Duke), Charlotte, NC

Delta Music Institute
Warner Lamar (UNC), Nashville TN

St. Gabriel’s Mercy Center
Rahi Patel (UNC), Waxhaw, NC
Antonia Young (Duke), Auckland, New Zealand

Sunflower County Freedom Project
Liza Becker (Duke), Elkins Park, PA
Adam Enggasser (UNC), Greenville, SC
Naraya Price (UNC), Poughkeepsie, NY

Community Summer places Robertson Scholars in other parts of the South including Edgecombe County, North Carolina; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Whitesburg, Kentucky.

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program was created in the year 2000 by Julian and Josie Robertson. The program invests in young leaders who strive to make transformational contributions to society. To learn more, visit

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

Mississippi Summer Arts Institute camps filling up quickly

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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.