Today was a great closing to a formative and inspiring week! The participants began the morning with a lecture by Dr. John Strait. He discussed some of the major themes of the week- blues, culture, and religion- and how these aspects of the Delta spread throughout America. After a break from lunch, participants returned to make their “Mojos”. This activity involved “tying-up” everything inside a bag of mojo. The mojo bag includes items such as flowers from the Chinese cemetery, red brick from Dockery plantation, and pieces of Fannie Lou Hamer’s voter registration form, and it is a tool that will help the teachers remember all that they learned here in the Delta. Finally, participants completed evaluations and prepared to say goodbye to the Mississippi Delta- the Most Southern Place on Earth.
Today was all about the Blues- the music itself and the culture and people that produced it. The day kicked off with a trip to Dockery Farms, the “Birthplace of the Blues”. Next, the traveling classroom made its way to Ruleville, Mississippi, home of civil rights icon, Fannie Lou Hamer. On the way to visit Hamer’s memorial, participants listened to a lecture on education and civil rights by Dr. Edgar Smith. The next stop was the B.B. King museum where participants learned about King’s legacy and the role he played in popularizing the blues. The final event of the day was lecture on the history of blues music by Dr. David Evans. Dr. Evans also gave a live performance of Delta blues for the teachers, and during a break in his lecture, a sampling of Delta hot tamales was served to the group.
The second day of the workshop centered around the immigrant stories woven throughout the Delta, as well as the religious and cultural roots of the blues and early rock music. Participants boarded the "traveling classroom" in the morning and travelled to Greenville, Mississippi, while learning about the Delta Jews. In Greenville, participants stopped at the Chinese cemetery and a Black cemetery to witness these communities’ histories within the town. They then went to the historic Hebrew Union Temple to hear even more about the history of Jews in the region and their relationship with southern society as well as with the northern Jews who came through the Delta as Freedom Riders. Adjacent to the temple, participants meandered through a museum of the 1927 flood, after which they returned to Cleveland for lunch.
Guest scholar Charles Reagan Wilson spoke to the workshop after lunch, teaching about the historically diverse religious factions found within the Delta. He also discussed how the strong tradition of oral expression found in the South influenced the church, musicians, and even southern politicians. The day finished with country blues musician Bill Abel, who discussed the history of blues music and performed in a variety of styles, playing a variety songs, including selections by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, for the crowd.
The 5th and final grants workshop for the MS Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program will be held at the DESOTO COUNTY TOURISM ASSOCIATION TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER, 4716 Pepper Chase Drive, Southaven, MS 38671. We hope to see you there, and if you have any questions, please call The Delta Center at DSU, 662-846-4311.
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.
Good News! The National Endowment for the Humanities, through its Landmarks in American History and Culture Program, will support two week-long workshops celebrating the heritage of the Mississippi Delta. The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, Culture and History in the Mississippi Delta will explore the region’s impact on America’s music, foodways, civil rights, literary heritage, and political landscape. Workshops will be offered to thirty seven participants each between June 21-17 and July 12-18, 2015. They are open to K-12 teachers, including public, private, and home school, and librarians. Five graduate credit hours may be earned. This will be the sixth year of NEH support for this exciting workshop. Stipends of $1200 are available. Complete information and application materials are available from the Delta Center for Culture and Learning athttp://deltacenterforcultureandlearning.com/southern-place-workshop/ and additional information is provided by NEH athttp://www.neh.gov/projects/landmarks-schools.html. The Directors of the workshop are Dr. Luther Brown (email@example.com and Lee Aylward (firstname.lastname@example.org.) A special participant will be Dr. Rolando Herts (email@example.com,) the new Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.
For the sixth year, Delta State University has received major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks in American History and Culture program. Funding will allow the Delta Center for Culture and Learning to offer two week-long workshops focusing on the Delta’s rich cultural heritage in June and July of 2015. Each workshop will serve 40 K-12 teachers who will come from Mississippi and across the U.S.
Dr. Luther Brown, former DCCCL said, “Every time we offer this workshop we have over 400 applications coming from all 50 states. This is a very exciting workshop, and we hope to draw applicants from all of Mississippi and the rest of the country.”
Classroom teachers in public, private, parochial and charter schools, as well as home-schooling parents and school librarians, are eligible to participate. They will receive a stipend to assist with expenses and gather with leading humanities scholars and Delta State staff to develop powerful lesson plans relating to the Delta’s heritage and the heritage of their own home regions.
The workshops are titled “The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History and Culture in the Mississippi Delta.” Participants will travel throughout the Delta as they visit sites where significant events occurred.
Discussions will focus on civil rights and political leadership, immigrants’ experiences in the Delta, the blues, the great migration, agriculture, the Mississippi River and more. Participants will sample Delta foods, visit local museums and listen to the blues. Field trips will roam as far as Greenville, Greenwood, Indianola, Ruleville, Mound Bayou, Clarksdale, Memphis and stops in between.
Brown will return to the DCCL to direct the workshops between June 21-27 and July 12-18, 2015. Each workshop begins on Sunday evening and runs through the following Saturday afternoon.
Participants can earn five graduate semester hours upon completion of the workshop.
The DCCL at Delta State promotes the understanding of the heritage of the Mississippi Delta. The center will be assisted during the workshops by Delta State faculty members along with faculty from the University of Mississippi, Sam Houston State University, Jackson State University, the University of Memphis and other institutions of higher learning. Local Delta citizens will also tell their own stories and experiences.
There are only 21 Landmarks in American History and Culture topics offered during 2015. The topics range from the transcontinental railroad, mining in the far West, the American Revolution in the Northern Frontier and several workshops focusing on the civil rights movement. A complete list can be found at http://www.neh.gov/divisions/education/summer-programs.
For more information about the Landmarks in American History and Culture workshops, visit the DCCL’s website at http://deltacenterforcultureandlearning.com/southern-place-workshop/, or contact the center at 662-846-4311.
The Delta State University Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently introduced a geography class from Sam Houston State University to the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.
The class, led by Dr. John Strait, spent a week in the Delta exploring the blues, civil rights issues and the Great Migration. Lee Aylward of the Delta Center gave the class an overview of the Delta’s cultural heritage.
Strait has been coming to the Delta several times each year for over a decade. He is a regular lecturer in the Delta Center’s annual National Endowment for the Humanities workshops. Additionally, he brings his own classes once or twice each year.
The Delta Center is the manager of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, a partnership with the National Park Service. Learn more about the Delta Center’s rich history at http://www.blueshighway.org. Visit http://www.neh.gov/ to read about the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State is once again offering its summer program “The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta.”
The program is part of the annual Landmarks in American History and Culture series that is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Pending funding from the NEH, the center is hoping to offer the program again in 2015.
This highly competitive workshop draws participants from all 50 states. Diana Brown, a special education teacher at Ruleville Middle School, recently reflected on her participation in 2012.
“One learning experience which I am really grateful for having the opportunity to participate in was ‘The Most Southern Place on Earth,’ under the direction of Dr. Luther Brown and Lee Alyward,” said Diana. “The opportunity changed my life in more ways than one. I am from the Delta, but the experience was far beyond what I ever imagined.
“The institute gave me an overload of rich knowledge about the Delta I had no idea even existed. It not only gave me a dream, but provided knowledge on how to make these dreams become a reality.”
Dr. Brown has fond memories of Diana as a workshop participant.
“She was a wonderfully engaged scholar throughout the entire week, and surprised everyone the last day by bringing in delicious home made sweet potato pies for everyone to enjoy,” said Brown. “She really welcomed everyone to the Delta.”
Diana has always loved learning but had to put her career on hold early in life when she started her family. Today she has two grown daughters and five grandchildren. She credits Delta State with helping her succeed.
“I returned to Delta State University in 2002, and in 2005 received my bachelor’s in child development,” said Diana. “I returned to Delta State in 2005, and in 2007 received my master’s in special education. I returned to Delta State again in 2009, and in 2012 received my specialists in educational leadership.
“I guess you are wondering why Delta State University, and the answer is because it’s a small university with a big heart. You are not just a number — the staff and personnel at Delta State genuinely care about the whole person.”
Her workshop experience in 2012 stimulated her interest in subsequent seminar opportunities. In 2013 she had the opportunity to participate in a learning experience in Lawrence, Kans. working on the pilot program for the alternate assessment for special needs children.
“I love to learn and I am going to learn until I am not in existence,” added Diana. “This year I applied for another teacher institute which is titled ‘The Rochester Reform Trial’ located in Rochester, New York.”
The workshop, from July 20-26, will examine the reform as expressed in landmarks such as Broad Street Aqueduct, Ernie Canal, Mount Hope Cemetery and several other landmarks.
Another participant from the same workshop that started Diana on her path, Markette Pierce, lives in Rochester and is organizing their summer experience together. She wrote about Diana on Facebook.
“She aced it as a local participant. She’s my role model as I prep for this workshop,” said Pierce. “I’m already thinking, where can I take her to get a taste of Rochester’s music and foodie culture? The closest thing we’ve got to Po’ Monkey’s is Lux Bar, which is certainly a juke joint in the ‘wicked, disorderly, unsavory’ etymological sense — though more filled with tatted up hipsters than sharecroppers.”
Brown continues her passion for learning as she becomes an ambassador for the Mississippi Delta.
For more information on The Most Southern Place workshop, contact the Delta Center For Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311.
Delta State’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently organized a panel discussion on the murder of Emmett Till as part of a July workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
The discussion was held in Tallahatchie County at the new Sumner Grill Restaurant, right across the street from the Sumner Courthouse where Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam were tried for Till’s murder in 1955.
The focus of the NEH workshops is on the history and culture of the Mississippi Delta. Each day, participants are guided through documentaries, information, experiences and tours of historical landmarks and cultural institutions.
Delta State alumni (’61), Chair Emeritus of the Department of Physical Sciences and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Henry Outlaw leads the topic of the civil rights movement in Mississippi. The Emmett Till story is used as a case study for discussing oppression, revolution and reconciliation.
The Delta Center for Culture and Learning works throughout the region to serve as a “Center of Excellence” at Delta State. It is an interdisciplinary program that is focused on the humanities and environmental sciences related to the Delta.
The NEH is among the nation’s largest funders of humanities programs. It promotes excellence in humanities and delivers historical lessons to Americans in an effort to serve and strengthen the nation.