CLEVELAND, Miss. — Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Program Manager Wayne Dowdy has been accepted to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s (NMAAHC) annual Ethical Interpretation Workshop. The workshop, established in 2016, provides technical training to cultural heritage and museum professionals on interpretive theory and ethical practice. The workshop describes ethical interpretation as practice that “centers the critical importance of collaboration with the communities whose histories are being interpreted, and connects past, present, and future conditions for learners.”
“In my application, I wrote about the history of divestment from inclusive, historically accurate public cultural heritage interpretation,” said Dowdy. “Ethical interpretation program planning asks not just what story is being told, but also how it’s told, who is doing the telling, and who is benefiting. The NMAAHC is on the cutting edge of that kind of work, and I’m really excited to learn from them and from this cohort.”
Dowdy’s application also won him a Smithsonian scholarship that covers full tuition and travel costs for the workshop. The scholarship was awarded on a competitive basis. Over the course of two weeks in May, Dowdy will participate in one virtual session and one in-person session in Washington D.C. He will be part of a workshop cohort that includes representatives from the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, among others.
Dr. Rolando Herts, executive director of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, recommended Dowdy for the workshop. Herts is a 2017 workshop alumnus.
“We look forward to absorbing the lessons that Wayne will bring back with him from this experience,” said Herts. “We anticipate that the Smithsonian’s resources will help to enhance our cultural heritage interpretation programs that empower community-engaged storytelling in the Mississippi Delta.”
The MS Delta NHA 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 MS Delta NHA 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 MS Delta NHA, 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 MS Delta NHA and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.