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Memphis Magazine and Action News 5 Memphis spotlight Delta Center, MDNHA civil rights heritage projects

Pictured is a photo of the print edition of the Memphis Magazine article about Civil Rights cultural heritage work in the Mississippi Delta.

CLEVELAND, Miss.—The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) at Delta State University have been recognized by two significant regional media outlets during Black History Month.

The article touches on The Delta Center and MDNHA’s various Civil Rights heritage development initiatives over the years including: the play Beautiful Agitators about the life of Clarksdale-based voting rights activist Vera Mae Pigee, written and performed by Delta residents in partnership with StoryWorks; the online Civil Rights Heritage Archive, which is part of the MDNHA’s growing Virtual Resource Center; the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership that honored the lives of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta; and The Most Southern Place on Earth summer workshops for K-12 educators.

Community members perform a reading of the play Beautiful Agitators at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland, MS, July 2018.

All of these projects have garnered support from local, state, and/or national partners such as the City of Cleveland, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the National Park Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among several others.

These projects and others led to the MDNHA being selected for the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network. Of the currently 55 existing, congressionally-designated National Heritage Areas, MDNHA is the first to receive this distinctive recognition.

“We’re seeing now that people don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Dr. Rolando Herts, Delta Center director and MDNHA executive director is quoted as saying in the article. “People want to come to places like the Delta as a touchstone, making the connections between the past and the present. We have to be very thoughtful about the civil rights heritage work that we’re doing.”

The Memphis Magazine article is available online at

After the article was published, Greene sat down with Action News 5 Memphis anchor Andrew Douglas to discuss the significance of The Delta Center and MDNHA’s work. During the interview, Greene discussed Civil Rights heritage as the next tourism movement in the Mississippi Delta.

Memphis Magazine writer Alex Greene (right) speaks with news anchor Andrew Douglas (pictured, left) of Action News 5 Memphis about the article.

“I think it represents deep tourism or deep immersion travel, where you really dig into the history of an area,” said Greene. “Rightly so, Dr. Herts says, I think with good evidence, that [Civil Rights heritage tourism] is the next wave in the Delta in addition to the Blues and other aspects of Delta heritage. It’s such a rich field.”

Here, Greene is referring to Dr. Herts’ article “Get On Board Little Children: Civil Rights Tourism is Mississippi’s Next Tourism Movement” published by the Bolivar Bullet, Jackson Advocate, and Mississippi Free Press in 2020.

The Action News 5 Memphis interview is available online 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 K-12 educators. For more information, 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