education

Blues Studies online certificate program to launch in 2016

Delta State is quickly establishing itself as the academic center for the blues.  In fact, one of Delta State’s newest programs of study is the Blues Studies minor, which launched Fall 2015, and plans are in the works for an interdisciplinary major in the blues. In addition, our International Delta Blues Project brings visiting scholars, lecturers, and artists to the Delta to teach about the blues.

The blues is a separate genre of music that has influenced many other styles of music and continues to be a prominent African American musical tradition. Delta State is the home of the first multidisciplinary approach to the study of the blues, which will not only include in-depth study of the musical form, but also provide a scholarly lens to examine its influence on art, literature, music history, and economic development.

Starting in Summer 2016, Delta State will begin a new online Blues Studies curriculum: the International Blues Scholars Program. This online program will offer certificates for advanced study of Blues music, with plans to expand the program in the future.

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NEH announces funding of Delta Center’s Most Southern workshop

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced Wednesday that it will continue funding national programs such as the Delta Center’s Most Southern Place on Earth workshops. Photos by Amy Kramer and Brady Gilliam.

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced Wednesday that it will continue funding national programs such as the Delta Center’s Most Southern Place on Earth workshops. Photos by Amy Kramer and Brady Gilliam.

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced Wednesday a total of $36.6 million in grants for 212 humanities projects, including an exhibition on Mexican modern art from 1910-1950 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the excavation of the 17th-century Plymouth Colony settlement in Massachusetts, and publication of the personal papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. dating from the campaign to desegregate Birmingham and the historic 1963 March on Washington.

This funding will support a wide variety of projects including traveling exhibitions, the creation of new digital research tools, the preparation and publication of scholarly editions, professional development opportunities for teachers and college faculty, the preservation of cultural collections, collaborative humanities research, and the production and development of films, television and radio programs.

“The grant projects announced today represent the very best of humanities scholarship and programming,” said NEH Chairman William Adams. “NEH is proud to support programs that illuminate the great ideas and events of our past, broaden access to our nation’s many cultural resources, and open up for us new ways of understanding the world in which we live.”

The Landmarks of American History and Culture: Workshops for School Teachers is one of over a dozen grant categories that NEH funds. The purpose of this grant category is to support a series of one-week workshops for K-12 educators that address central themes and topics in American history, government, literature, art history and other humanities fields related to historic landmarks. For the seventh year, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University has been awarded a grant in this category for “The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History, and Culture of the Mississippi Delta” workshops.

“We are pleased that the National Endowment for the Humanities continues to support the ‘Most Southern Place on Earth’ workshops,” said Dr.Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “These workshops have educated and inspired so many teachers and students across the country. The Mississippi Delta was designated by Congress as a National Heritage Area in 2009. This means that our region is federally recognized as a cultural landscape featuring many educationally and economically significant landmarks.

“Over the years, the NEH workshops have created a network of over 500 educational and cultural ambassadors for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. We look forward to working with NEH to continue to build this network toward the benefit of our region, our nation and our world.”

The Most Southern Place on Earth workshops expose K-12 educators from throughout the United States to the Mississippi Delta’s rich history and cultural heritage. The workshops use an experiential learning approach, engaging participants directly with historically and culturally significant people and places in the MDNHA.

Participants take what they have learned from the workshops back to their schools and communities, sharing stories and lessons from the MDNHA with students, colleagues, family and friends, nationally and globally. Over the years, many past participants have made return visits to the region, bringing others with them, which has broadened the NEH workshops’ educational and economic impact.

Institutions and independent scholars in 42 states and the District of Columbia will receive NEH support. Complete state-by-state listings of grants are available online.

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 MDNHA and is the home of the NEH Most Southern Place on Earth workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The MDNHA a is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. 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 http://www.msdeltaheritage.com.

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NEH “Most Southern” workshops create Delta ambassadors

In total, 72 K-12 teachers from across the nation took part in this summer's "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshops. Photos by Amy Kramer and Brady Gilliam.

In total, 72 K-12 teachers from across the nation took part in this summer's "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshops. Photos by Amy Kramer and Brady Gilliam.

The National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop, presented twice this summer (June 21-27 and July 12-18) by The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, exposed 72 K-12 teachers from throughout the United States to the Mississippi Delta’s rich history and cultural heritage. Workshop participants represented 33 states, including Alaska, California, Florida, New Hampshire and Indiana. Several teachers from Mississippi participated as well, including a teacher from Mound Bayou.

Over the past six years, the NEH workshops have brought over $1 million in federal grants to Delta State University. Through these grants, the workshops have generated educational and economic spread effects regionally and nationally.

The workshop model uses an experiential learning approach, giving participants direct contact with and access to historically and culturally significant people and places in the Mississippi Delta. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center, said this approach inspires deeper understanding of historical events among the participants. The approach also stimulates economic activity, as workshop participants stay in hotels, dine in restaurants and visit educational attractions in Cleveland, Bolivar County and the Delta region.

“This blending of educational and tourism-centered economic activity is beneficial to the Mississippi Delta’s federal designation as a National Heritage Area,” said Herts. “The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a partnership between the region and the National Park Service to raise awareness of the value of the Mississippi Delta’s rich cultural heritage.”

The NEH workshop has created a national network of over 500 educational and cultural ambassadors for the MDNHA. Participants take what they have learned from the workshop back to their schools and communities, sharing stories and lessons from the Delta with students, colleagues, family, and friends nationally and globally. Over the years, many past participants have made return visits to the region, bringing others with them, which has broadened the workshop’s educational and economic impact for the MDNHA.

Dr. Luther Brown, former director of The Delta Center, returned to serve as lead facilitator of this year’s workshops, with support from Lee Aylward, and Brady Gilliam and Amy Kramer, both Robertson Scholars from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Workshop participants heard presentations from blues, southern religion and great migration experts, including: Dr. David Evans, professor of ethnomusicology and regional Studies, University of Memphis; Mississippi Delta native, Dr. Edgar Smith, former vice president of Academic Affairs, University of Massachusetts System; Dr. Charles Reagan Wilson, former director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi; and Dr. John Strait, professor of geography at Sam Houston State University.

In addition, workshop participants were engaged with living historical figures, including civil rights activis Charles McLaurin, who met Fannie Lou Hamer while working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Cathy Wong, who spoke about the presence of Chinese in the Delta and their cultural influence; and key people involved with the Emmett Till story, including Till’s cousins Simeon Wright and Wheeler Parker, both of whom were with Till before his murder.

Participants also visited many historical and educational points of interest throughout the region, including: Dockery Farm, known as the birthplace of the blues, located between Cleveland and Ruleville; Taborian Hospital in Mound Bayou; Emmett Till Intrepid Center in Glendora; blues legend Robert Johnson’s gravesite at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Fort Pemberton in Greenwood; and the 1927 Flood Museum, Century of History Museum at Hebrew Union Congregation, and Chinese and African American cemeteries in Greenville. The group also traveled to Memphis, the Delta’s largest city, to visit The Cotton Museum, National Civil Rights Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

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 MDNHA and is the home of the NEH’s “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. 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 athttp://www.msdeltaheritage.com.

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Delta Center hosts Lehrhaus Judaica

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently hosted "Jews, Blues, and Jazz Tour" from Lehrhous Judaica of Berkeley, Calif.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently hosted "Jews, Blues, and Jazz Tour" from Lehrhous Judaica of Berkeley, Calif.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently conducted a day-long learning experience for Lehrhaus Judaica from Berkeley, Calif. 

The 33-person tour from the Bay Area was billed as “Jews, Blues, and Jazz,” and the group was on its way from Memphis to New Orleans, with stops in Cleveland, Greenwood, and Natchez.

The tour was led by Fred Rosenbaum, an educator and historian who founded the organization in 1974. Rosenbaum has been a faculty member at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where for five years he taught a semester-long course on the Holocaust to Christian seminarians.

Rosenbaum has lectured across the United States and abroad and has been the traveling scholar on numerous Lehrhaus-JCCSF study tours — to Eastern and Western Europe, Israel and the Middle East, South America and Cuba, and his native New York.

The Delta Center’s Lee Aylward introduced the group to the area, many on their first trip to the region. This was the group’s second year to visit the Delta.

Learn more about the group at www.lehrhaus.org.

Fred Rosenbaum (left), traveling scholar; Lee Aylward, the Delta Center; Vernita Lyons, tour coordinator; and Ariel Goldstein, tour director.

Fred Rosenbaum (left), traveling scholar; Lee Aylward, the Delta Center; Vernita Lyons, tour coordinator; and Ariel Goldstein, tour director.

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 International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

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Delta Center provides Emory University of Atlanta a learning tour

Dr. Rolando Herts provided students from Emory University of Atlanta an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage area.

Dr. Rolando Herts provided students from Emory University of Atlanta an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage area.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University hosted Emory University of Atlanta for an experiential learning tour of the Mississippi Delta region.

Lee Aylward, program associate for education and community outreach for The Delta Center, provided an introduction of Delta history to the group, and Director Dr. Rolando Herts provided an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

The group traveled throughout the week around the Delta experiencing cultural heritage sites. 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 International Delta Blues Project.

For more information, visit www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning.

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Delta Center hosts Hillel Jewish group

Lee Aylward (second from right) of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently hosted a tour for the Hillel Jewish student group from the University of Virginia. They visited various Delta sites, including the "Cast of Blues," a collection of 54 blues masks found in the lobby of Ewing Hall at Delta State.

Lee Aylward (second from right) of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently hosted a tour for the Hillel Jewish student group from the University of Virginia. They visited various Delta sites, including the "Cast of Blues," a collection of 54 blues masks found in the lobby of Ewing Hall at Delta State.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently hosted members of the Hillel Jewish student group at the University of Virginia.

Hillel is the largest Jewish student organization in the world. By participating in life-changing trips and campus initiatives, students learn to make a meaningful impact on the future of people and the world while they grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually.

The Delta Center’s Lee Aylward provided a Delta tour to significant sites in the Delta, and director Dr. Rolando Herts gave them an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

The group will spend time throughout the Delta for a week conducting service projects and learning about the different communities. 

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 International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

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Delta Center expands learning outreach

The Delta Center donates harmonicas to the Delta Arts Alliance to support musical classes.

The Delta Center donates harmonicas to the Delta Arts Alliance to support musical classes.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently donated over 40 “Learn to Play Harmonicas” to the Delta Arts Alliance (DAA) for music classes.

As music and art are cut from school curricula, the DAA seeks to find ways to bring the arts to schools around the Delta, and with the donation of these musical instruments, the Delta Center is helping them reach that goal.

The donation continues the working relationship between the Delta Center and the Delta Arts Alliance. In the past, the Delta Center has provided interns from the Robertson Scholars program at Duke University and the University of North Carolina to help with summer programs at the DAA.

Both entities hope that this donation will enable students from across the Delta to experience our musical heritage. Lee Aylward and Heather Miller of the Delta Center presented the packets to Rori Herbison, executive director of the DAA.

The Delta Center is the manager of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, a partnership with the National Park Service.

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