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NEH Chairman Jon Peede Visits Delta State, Dockery Farms

By September 21, 2018Delta Center

National Endowment for the Humanities congratulates Delta State University for the 10th anniversary of The Delta Center’s Most Southern Place on Earth workshop. Pictured left to right: Vincent Ricardel, NEH; Provost Charles McAdams, Delta State; President William N. LaForge, Delta State; Lee Aylward, The Delta Center; NEH Chairman Jon Peede; Dr. Rolando Herts, The Delta Center; Craig Ray, Visit Mississippi; and Dr. Stuart Rockoff, Mississippi Humanities Council.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently collaborated with Delta State’s Office of the President and the Mississippi Humanities Council to host Jon Peede, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Chairman Peede congratulated Delta State for recently being awarded a $170,000 grant supporting The Delta Center’s Most Southern Place on Earth workshop for K-12 educators. This is the tenth year that the workshop has been awarded a NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture grant. To date, the NEH has awarded over $1.5 million in grant funds to support the Most Southern workshop.

“By bringing together the history, music, and culture of the Delta, this teachers workshop helps strengthen and sustain the cultural life of our nation and its citizens,” said NEH Chairman Peede. “NEH is proud to support it.”

“Delta State is very appreciative of NEH’s support of the Most Southern Place on Earth workshop,” said President William N. LaForge of Delta State. “Meeting with Chairman Peede provided an excellent opportunity to show our appreciation and to share Delta State’s commitment to education and community engagement through the humanities.”

Joining Chairman Peede were Vincent Ricardel, Senior Advisor to the Chairman; Dr. Stuart Rockoff, Executive Director of Mississippi Humanities Council; and Craig Ray, Director of Visit Mississippi. The visiting team was welcomed by Delta State representatives President LaForge; Dr. Charles McAdams, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs; Dr. Rolando Herts, Director of The Delta Center, and Lee Aylward, Program Associate for Education and Community Outreach at The Delta Center.

“The Mississippi Humanities Council is honored to host Chairman Peede’s visit to key NEH-supported educational and cultural organizations in our state,” said Rockoff. “Given the Most Southern workshop’s strong reputation and longevity, it was important to bring him to Delta State.”

“We are very pleased to have had this special opportunity to thank the NEH leadership team in person,” said Herts. “We showed them the Cast of Blues exhibit and other cultural treasures that our Most Southern workshop participants experience while they are here.”

Bill Lester gives an interpretive history of Dockery Farms to Chairman Peede and guests.

Herts and Aylward facilitated a tour of Dockery Farms, known worldwide as “The Birthplace of the Blues.” Bill Lester, Executive Director of Dockery Farms Foundation, gave an interpretive history of the renowned Blues heritage landmark which included exploring the newly renovated cotton gin. The cotton gin restoration was supported in part by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, a cultural heritage partnership with the National Park Service that is managed by The Delta Center.

“I love talking to the teachers who have been coming to Dockery each summer with the Most Southern workshop,” said Lester. “It’s great to know that this program has had such a tremendous impact over the years, and Chairman Peede visiting here makes it all the more meaningful.”

The NEH Most Southern program has 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. 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.

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 Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the NEH Most Southern Place on Earth workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit