NEH "Most Southern Place" Workshop July Session: Day 1

Today was the beginning of the second session of the NEH "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshop. In the opening session, workshop directors Lee Aylward and Dr. Rolando Herts of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning provided an overview of the Delta and challenged participants to enter the week with open minds and curious hearts – offering an intersectional lens to view identity, culture, and history. During an icebreaker activity, participants met one another and introduced themselves, sharing interesting facts about one another they will be quizzed on throughout the week.

After lunch at a local soul food joint- the Senator's Place, the group engaged in discussions on race, culture, education, and poverty in the Delta through the Oscar-nominated documentary, LaLee’s Kin. Reggie Barns, superintendent of the West Tallahatchie School District featured in the film, led a discussion on the difficulties he faced fighting for his schools, as well as the challenges facing other districts in the region. He also encouraged the teachers to be strong in the work that they do because education is one of the most powerful tools to overcome cyclical poverty. 

After the discussion, everyone boarded the "traveling classroom" and learned about the Great Flood of 1927 while driving to the Mississippi River for a visit to the location of the levee breach from that disaster.

The evening concluded with a catfish dinner at Airport Grocery where Terry "Harmonica" Bean played the Delta Blues for the participants. 

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