Delta Center offers summer workshops for teachers in American History and culture

Dr. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, with Dr. Julia Nguyen, a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington D.C. Nguyen is originally from Natchez.

Dr. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, with Dr. Julia Nguyen, a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington D.C. Nguyen is originally from Natchez.

For the fifth 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 2014. Each workshop will serve 40 K-12 teachers who will come from Mississippi and all over the U.S.

Dr. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning said, “The last time we did this we had over 400 applications, with participants coming from 47 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 and librarians in public, private, parochial and charter schools, as well as home-schooling parents 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. They will discuss and learn about issues involving civil rights and political leadership, immigrants’ experiences in the Delta, the Blues, the great migration, agriculture, and the Mississippi River, among other things. They will sample Delta foods, visit local museums and listen to the Blues. Field trips will roam as far as Greenville, Greenwood, Clarksdale and Memphis, with stops in between.

Participants can earn five graduate semester hours upon completion of the workshop.

Workshops will be held the week of June 22 and the week of July 13. Each begins on Sunday evening and runs through the following Saturday afternoon.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning promotes the understanding of the heritage of the Mississippi Delta. It is the manager of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, a partnership between the people of the Delta and the National Park Service. The Center will be assisted during the workshops by faculty from the University of Mississippi, Sam Houston 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 17 Landmarks in American History and Culture topics offered during 2014. Their topics range from The American Skyscraper, to The Cold War Home Front in Southern California, to Crossroads of Conflict: Contested Visions of Freedom and the Missouri-Kansas Border Wars, with several workshops focusing on the Civil Rights Movement. A complete list can be found at http://www.neh.gov/projects/landmarks-school.html.

For more information about the Landmarks in American History and Culture workshops, visit the center’s website at http://deltacenterforcultureandlearning.com/neh-workshop/ or contact the DSU Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311.

Caption:  Dr. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, with Dr. Julia Nguyen, a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington D.C. Nguyen is originally from Natchez.

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Delta Center and MDA promote the Delta

Participants in the recent Mississippi Development Authority tour of the Delta, outside Po' Monkey's Lounge in Merigold.

Participants in the recent Mississippi Development Authority tour of the Delta, outside Po' Monkey's Lounge in Merigold.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently worked with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) to help businesses better understand the Delta’s rich cultural heritage.  MDA provided several days of touring for site locators, people who represent industries looking for locations to build manufacturing plants.  The Delta Center helped excite these agents about the Delta by reviewing the Delta’s history and the roles that the Delta’s people have played in the American story.

Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center, and Malcolm White, director of Tourism for the State, accompanied the visitors throughout the region.  MDA officials also gave the group information about incentives for businesses, permitting and licensing requirements, and other aspects of doing business in Mississippi.

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

Photo: Participants in the recent Mississippi Development Authority tour of the Delta, outside Po’ Monkey’s Lounge in Merigold.

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Delta Center introduces Dollar General to heritage

Dollar General administrators in front of Po' Monkey's Lounge in Merigold, MS. Photo by Lee Aylward.

Dollar General administrators in front of Po' Monkey's Lounge in Merigold, MS. Photo by Lee Aylward.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently introduced the administration of Dollar General’s Indianola Distribution Center to the rich cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.  The group spent their Saturday learning about the Blues, Civil Rights history, and other things Delta, ranging from where the Southern crosses the Dogto the works of Dr. T. R. M. Howard to historic Po’ Monkey’s Lounge.  The Indianola Distribution Center is one of the largest buildings in the Delta, with 850,000 square feet of warehouse and office space and a staff of 500.  Keenan Davis, the Sr. Human Resources Manager, asked the Delta Center to help his administrators better understand the region they serve by exploring its heritage.  The Delta Center is the manager of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, a partnership with the National Park Service.

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Delta Center for Culture and Learning presents at Winterville Mounds

Dr. Luther Brown, Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, gives a presentation at Winterville Mounds.

Dr. Luther Brown, Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, gives a presentation at Winterville Mounds.

Dr. Luther Brown, Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, recently gave a presentation at Winterville Mounds as part of their monthly seminar series.  Dr. Brown described the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, which promises to better promote and protect the Delta’s heritage.  National Heritage Areas are links between geographic regions and the National Park Service.  They strive to inform residents about their own cultural heritage and increase the number of people who visit the region to learn about its heritage.  For more information about the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, contact the Delta Center at 662-846-4311.  
 
Luther Brown
Delta Center for Culture and Learning, and
The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
Box 3152 Delta State University
Cleveland, MS 38733
662-846-4312
www.deltacenterforcultureandlearning.com
www.blueshighway.org 
www.msdeltaheritage.com  
www.birthplaceoftheblues.org 
www.facebook.com/MDNHA

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Delta Center Discusses Civil Rights Movement

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.

Caption L to R: Henry Outlaw and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center, Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin and witness to his kidnapping, Dale Killinger, FBI agent in charge of the Till investigation, Lent Rice, retired FBI, Bruce Smith, son of Robert Bruce Smith, special prosecutor in the Till murder trial, Luther Brown of the Delta Center, and Jim Powers, Chair of the Mississippi ACLU and former President of the DSU student body.

Caption L to R: Henry Outlaw and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center, Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin and witness to his kidnapping, Dale Killinger, FBI agent in charge of the Till investigation, Lent Rice, retired FBI, Bruce Smith, son of Robert Bruce Smith, special prosecutor in the Till murder trial, Luther Brown of the Delta Center, and Jim Powers, Chair of the Mississippi ACLU and former President of the DSU student body.

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.

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Delta Center for Culture and Learning Participates in NEH Workshop

  Photo: Bill Abel

 

Photo: Bill Abel

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State recently hosted a workshop called “The Most Southern Place on Earth:  Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta” workshop.  The workshop is held twice a year by the Center, with major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) program known as Landmarks in American History and Culture.  Each workshop admits forty teachers from anywhere in the U.S.  The session lasts for six days, and examines the Delta’s heritage in the Blues, religion, Civil Rights, foodways, and other important manners.  

Tim Shaw, a top-notch instrument maker and elementary art teacher, was able to reunite with bluesman Bill Abel while attending.

Shaw first met Abel when they did a workshop together last summer. Shaw had been making cigar box guitars for a year when he learned of Abel’s cigar box show at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs. Shaw’s wife got her husband and his friends permission to be in Abel’s show through the cultural center.

“I spent two days with him down there at the cultural center. We immediately hit it off,” Shaw said. “I called my wife after the first day and I said, ‘I have met my Jesus.’”

The two have been in touch since, but Shaw’s being at Abel’s performance during the NEH workshop was a complete surprise.

“I didn’t tell him I was coming,” Shaw said. “Yesterday when he was unloading his stuff I came here early to help, and I said, ‘Remember me?’ And he just couldn’t believe I was here.”

  Photo: Tim Shaw

 

Photo: Tim Shaw

After Abel’s show on Wednesday night, Shaw demonstrated his skills on Abel’s cigar box guitar. Shaw said that while he has always been interested in music, he only became a musician in his early 30’s.

“I worked with two guys who were surprised that I didn’t play anything because I knew so much about music,” Shaw said. “They set out on a mission to teach me to play. One of them played the drums, the other one played guitar. They decided they were going to teach me the bass so we could have a band.”

From playing instruments, Shaw became interested in making them. During his quest to make a solid-body electric guitar, he encountered a news clip about a man who made cigar box guitars on the coast. Shaw visited the artist’s gallery in Bay St. Louis with some friends the following Sunday and ended up buying one of the artist’s cigar box guitars.

“I took it home and took it apart and looked at it and thought, ‘Huh, this is interesting. I think I can do this,’” Shaw said. “And so my endeavor to make solid body electric guitars took a left turn to cigar box guitars.”

Shaw, whose projects are usually commissioned, says that the six-day workshop has left him inspired.

“I’m really excited about this workshop. I’ve already designed three new guitars,” Shaw said. “I can’t wait to go home and make them. They’re going to be blues themed.”

For more information, contact the Delta Center at 662-846-4311 or Luther Brown at lbrown@deltastate.edu

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Delta Center Recruits Delta State University Supporter

Photo: Restaurateur Willie Bates and the Delta Center’s Lee Aylward and Luther Brown in front of the Four Way Grill, 998 Mississippi Blvd, Memphis, TN 38126. Photo by Rachel Anderson.

Photo: Restaurateur Willie Bates and the Delta Center’s Lee Aylward and Luther Brown in front of the Four Way Grill, 998 Mississippi Blvd, Memphis, TN 38126. Photo by Rachel Anderson.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently ended a week-long workshop with a trip to Memphis. The 40 scholars who participated in the “The Most Southern Place on Earth:  Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta” workshop visited the Cotton Museum, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and the National Civil Rights Museum before watching the famous ducks walk in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.  Lunch was provided by the Four Way Grill, a favorite soul food haunt of Martin Luther King, boxing promoter Don King, B. B. King, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and Little Milton Campbell, all of whom have their pictures hanging in the restaurant.  

Founded in 1946, the Four Way is now operated by Willie Bates, a native of Shaw, Mississippi, who moved to Memphis as a boy. Bates said he was proud to receive a Delta State University pennant and would display it alongside his photos of famous patrons.

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Delta Center Welcomes Teachers for National Endowment for the Humanities Workshop

Photo: The opening reception of The Most Southern Place workshop, in the Martin and Sue King Railroad Museum. Photo by Rachel Anderson.

Photo: The opening reception of The Most Southern Place workshop, in the Martin and Sue King Railroad Museum. Photo by Rachel Anderson.

The Delta State University Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently welcomed 40 teachers from across the country to its June workshop entitled The Most Southern Place on Earth:  History, Music and Culture of the Mississippi Delta.  These scholars will be in the Delta for six days, studying aspects of its heritage from the Blues and the Flood of 1927 through the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Migration, and the Delta’s literary and religious heritage.  They will sample Delta foods from hot tamales to Kool-Aid pickles, and listened to visiting lecturers. Most of these teachers include Delta stories in their curriculum and some teach classes focused on the Blues, Civil Rights History, or other Delta themes. 
 
This workshop is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities, through their Landmarks in American History and Culture Program.  K-12 teachers from any American school are eligible to participate, and each year, applications come from the entire country.  Twenty states are represented in this group including teachers from Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta. The opening reception for this workshop was held at the Martin and Sue King Railroad Museum in Cleveland, and was supported by the Cleveland Nehi Bottling Company, Cecil’s Liquors, Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, the Parlor Purlers of Calvary Episcopal Church, Rachel Tate and Gregory Cole, Lee Aylward, and Bonnie Brown. The Delta Center for Culture and Learning is the manager of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.  For information about the Center, the National Heritage Area, or NEH workshops, contact the Delta Center at 662-846-4311.

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Delta Center for Culture and Learning Host Louisiana Tour Group

Photo: Luther Brown leads the Louisiana tour group.

Photo: Luther Brown leads the Louisiana tour group.

The Delta State University Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently introduced 55 people from West Baton Rouge, La., to the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.  The Senior Spirit Tour Group travels somewhere in the United States twice a year, and this year their first visit was to the Mississippi Delta. They stopped in Port Gibson, Vicksburg, Cleveland, and Indianola.

Tour participant Larry Durban wrote to the Delta Center,  "As a former Chamber director, I commend you, your staff and your organization on promoting your treasures and encourage you to continue to tell the story of your community and the State of Mississippi.  You own a very important part of our country’s history and it’s cultural heritage."  

For more information on the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, please call 662-846-4312.

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Florida School Returns to the Delta

 The St. Stephens Episcopal School Delta Heritage Class, in front of “A Cast of Blues,” the collection of life-masks of Blues musicians created by sculptor Sharon McConnell, outside the offices of the Delta Center in Ewing Hall. Group leader William Southerland is on the far right, next to Luther Brown of the DSU Delta Center. Photo by Lee Aylward.

 The St. Stephens Episcopal School Delta Heritage Class, in front of “A Cast of Blues,” the collection of life-masks of Blues musicians created by sculptor Sharon McConnell, outside the offices of the Delta Center in Ewing Hall. Group leader William Southerland is on the far right, next to Luther Brown of the DSU Delta Center. Photo by Lee Aylward.

The DSU Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently provided an overview of the Delta’s cultural heritage to a class from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School of Bradenton, Florida. The class was organized by William Sutherland, a specialist in Southern literature who participated in one of the Delta Center’s workshops in 2010. He has returned to the Delta with two high school classes since then. The workshops are titled “The Most Southern Place on Earth, History, Music and Culture of the Mississippi Delta.” They are offered to teachers annually, and are funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Several former participants have brought their own classes to the region to introduce them to the Delta’s important cultural heritage. The St. Steven’s class spent a week in the Delta, flying in and out of Memphis.

 

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