At the invitation of the Mississippi Humanities Council, The Delta Center at Delta State University hosted National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William “Bro” Adams during his recent visit to the Mississippi Delta region. The Delta Center is the home of “The Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops for K-12 educators from throughout the U.S. The “Most Southern” workshops are funded by the NEH.
This was Chairman Adams’ first time ever visiting the Mississippi Delta and the state of Mississippi.
"It's really very powerful being here," said Chairman Adams. "Seeing all of the young people in Ruleville celebrating the birthday of Fannie Lou Hamer, that was extremely impactful and shows how much this kind of work matters."
“We are honored that the Mississippi Humanities Council brought Chairman Adams to The Delta Center so that he could learn more about our ‘Most Southern’ workshops and our region,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “This was an excellent opportunity for him, us, and our community stakeholders to participate in an educational exchange about the historical and cultural significance of the Mississippi Delta.”
Chairman Adams started his morning at The Delta Center speaking with Dr. Herts and Lee Aylward about the “Most Southern” workshops of The Delta Center and how they have created an alumni network of over 500 K-12 educators across the country. These Mississippi Delta ambassadors educate their students, colleagues, family members, and friends about the culture and history of the Mississippi Delta. They also have returned to the region as education and cultural heritage tourists.
Chairman Adams also learned about The Delta Center’s other partnership programs, including the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and the International Delta Blues Project.
After visiting The Delta Center, Chairman Adams was taken to various educational landmarks and cultural attractions that are featured in the NEH workshops. Stops included Dockery Farms, widely considered to be the birthplace of the Blues; the Taborian Hospital and IT Montgomery Home in the historic black town of Mound Bayou; and Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Park in Ruleville, where community members celebrated the 99th birthday of the legendary voting rights activist.
“We thank The Delta Center for taking the Chairman around the Delta on a Saturday morning,” said Dr. Stuart Rockoff, Executive Director of the Mississippi Humanities Council. “Bro had an incredible day and was very inspired by what he experienced. The Delta Center provided a perfect start to a memorable day in the Delta. We are lucky to have such wonderful guides to the ‘Most Southern Place on Earth!’”
The morning wrapped up with an authentic Delta soul food experience at The Senator’s Place in Cleveland. The traveling group was joined by President Bill LaForge and Provost Charles McAdams of Delta State, as well as Mayor Darryl Johnson of Mound Bayou and Senator Willie Simmons, owner of The Senator’s Place.
"Having the Chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities visit this morning is a wonderful experience for the Delta and for Delta State, particularly considering all of the wonderful cultural activities that are occurring in the region, " said Delta State President Bill LaForge. "We appreciate his coming to take a first hand look at all the work taking place in the Mississippi Delta."
The Chairman spent the afternoon and evening visiting other nationally significant Mississippi Delta landmarks, including Emmitt Till civil rights sites in Tallahatchie County and Blues establishments in Clarksdale.