The Delta Center Newsletter
Lost & Found:  
An Interview with Willie Seaberry
Greetings all,

On behalf of   The Delta Center for Culture and Learning  at  Delta State University , we welcome you to a new academic and program year of ongoing collaborations with the   International Delta Blues Project , the National Endowment for the Humanities  "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshops , and the   Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) Through these collaborations, we  continue to fulfill our mission: promoting greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta's culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships, and community engagement. 

Our team has been quite busy cultivating new and existing opportunities to serve as an educational and cultural resource, connector, and advocate for the Mississippi Delta.  Through support from  the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation, we are hosting the   Fourth International Conference on the Blues  at   GRAMMY Museum Mississippi . In partnership with GRAMMY and others, this year's conference will celebrate the 100th birthday of Blues legend and Delta native, John Lee Hooker. Our featured musical guest will be GRAMMY Award-winner Aaron Neville. Mr. Neville will give a special closing concert at   Delta State's Bologna Performing Arts Center . We also will announce a National Endowment for the Arts-funded project that will bring ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax's collection of Mississippi recordings back home to the Delta in partnership with the  Association for Cultural Equity , Hunter College, New York City.

It is official: our "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshops have been funded again for summer 2018! This will be the ninth year that The Delta Center has presented "Most Southern." Thanks to the  National Endowment for the Humanities for continuing to support this renowned experiential learning program for K-12 educators from throughout the country. We also had a great run of workshops in June and July this summer. Check out the excellent  videos, blog posts, and portfolios illustrating the professional and personal impacts that these cultural immersion workshops have had on our participants. Thanks to our dedicated summer workshop team -- Lee Aylward, Pat Webster, Will Jacks, and Robertson Scholars Cara Price and Peter Andringa -- and participants for keepin' our "Most Southern" mojo workin'!

The MDNHA continues to make its presence known across the region, state, and nation.  This year's grant program  is awarding over $155,000 to organizations engaged in cultural heritage development throughout the Mississippi Delta. The grant program has awarded over $300,000 since it began in 2016. Updates on some of our 2016 grantees' projects are included in this issue. The MDNHA also jointly hosted a  National Park Service Collaboration Clinic  with the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Mississippi Hills NHAs. This is the first Collaboration Clinic held in the Southeast Region and the first hosted by a group of National Heritage Areas. On the national front, the MDNHA organized a special tour of the  Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture  in Washington, D.C. Members of the  Alliance of National Heritage Areas , along with representatives from the  National Park Service , the  National Parks Conservation Association , and the  Office of Senator Roger Wicker , were able to learn more about nationally significant Delta stories and places like the the murder of Emmett Till and the historic black town of Mound Bayou.

As always, we thank you, our readers, funders, partners, collaborators, stakeholders, and friends for your continued support of The Delta Center. 

Rolando Herts, Ph.D.
Director, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning
Delta State University, Cleveland, MS

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, along with the International Delta Blues project partnered with the Meek School of journalism and the Delta State Art Department in April to bring the Lens Collective MultiMedia Conference to Cleveland. 

The conference, organized by Alysia Burton Steele, UM Assistant Professor of Journalism and author of Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisdom, was an intense multimedia workshop focusing on cultural preservation through digital storytelling.  Twelve mentors assisted twenty-eight students from eight institutions, including: Allegheny College, American University, Delta State University, Guilford College, Jackson State University, Ohio University, West Virginia University and The University of Mississippi.

To learn more about this Blues Leadership Incubator event and to view the stories created, visit the website here.

Following a successful presentation last fall, the International Delta Blues Project has partnered again with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi to present a live musical performance inspired by the music presented in the documentary film Take Me to the River. William Bell, Bobby Rush, and Charlie Musselwhite headline a group of musicians that will be performing classics from the Memphis Sound. Academy Award winner Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, and the Hi-Rhythm Section will also perform.

Admission is free, but seat reservations are required.   

We are excited to have completed our second summer of the International Blues Scholars Program, an online certificate program for those seeking a deeper understanding of the Mississippi Delta. We had students enrolled from all over the country including California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, and Washington. Courses ranged from sociology to music history and from psychology to the history of the American South.

We are excited to open registration for our Fourth International Conference on the Blues. We are pleased to announce that the International Conference on the Blues is partnering with DSU's Bologna Performing Arts Center to bring GRAMMY winner Aaron Neville to the Mississippi Delta in a live concert! This year's conference is celebrating the 100th birthday of Delta native Bluesman John Lee Hooker. The conference will also focus on the Delta recordings made by Alan Lomax, which will be housed at Delta State through a partnership with the Association for Cultural Equity at Hunter College in New York. This exciting new partnership - which will be announced officially at the conference - is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

We look forward to seeing y'all at the conference!


The Office of Student Life, Quality Enhancement Plan, the International Delta Blues Project, the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, and the Delta Music Institute partnered to host Southern hip-hop artists and social activists Marco Pavé and Alfred Banks for two events open to the Delta State community and public. These partnered events were part of the International Delta Blues Project's Blues Leadership Incubator component, as well as the effort to sustain the message of Delta State's Winning the Race Conference.

Scott Barretta from the International Delta Blues Project moderated a lunch panel featuring Pavé and Alfred Banks. The discussion centered on the intersections of music, social justice and activism, as well as music entrepreneurship, the creative economy and regional musical influences. Later that afternoon Pavé and Banks performed a casual, lounge-style concert in the Union. 

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced $39.3 million in grants for 245 humanities projects across the country. Among the projects funded is The Delta Center for Culture and Learning's "Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, Culture, and History of the Mississippi Delta." These week-long professional development workshops attract K-12 educators from across the U.S. to Delta State University and the broader region.

NEH will award nearly $190,000 to Delta State to support the summer 2018 "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshops. Since 2009, NEH has awarded approximately $1.5 million to Delta State to fund the workshops.

For the eighth year, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University is pleased to host "The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History, and Culture of the Mississippi Delta" workshops for K-12 educators. The workshops are funded through a grant from the National Endowment  for the Humanities.

Want to Learn More?
Watch the videos below or visit our media page to see additional photos and videos.

Robertson Scholars return

Each summer, The Delta Center hosts Robertson Scholars from the University of North Carolina and Duke University. These bright students spend their summers interning at locations around the Delta such as St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou, the Sunflower Freedom Project, and the Delta Arts Alliance, among others.

We are excited to have hosted Peter Andringa and Cara Price as our Delta Center interns. They jumped in right away preparing items for the June participants of "The Most Southern Place on Earth" workshop. They also worked with communications and media consultant Will Jacks to create a series of documentary shorts about the workshop

Click here to learn more about the Robertson Scholars program.

The funded work celebrates the diversity of the Delta's rich cultural heritage including restoration of historical sites such as the Dockery Farms cotton gin, the establishment of a museum featuring the legacy of Dr. L.C. Dorsey at the Delta Health Center, and the influence of the Delta's Chinese culture in Delta cuisine. Delta State also featured the press release on its website

Three National Heritage Areas - Mississippi Delta, Mississippi Hills, and Mississippi Gulf Coast - held a Collaboration Clinic at the Biloxi Visitors Center. The workshop was facilitated by the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.

This is the first Collaboration Clinic held in the Southeast Region and the first hosted by a group of National Heritage Areas. Since 2014, Collaboration Clinics have been offered over a dozen times in parks and sites across the country including New York City, Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park in Massachusetts, and Zion National Park in Utah. 

The MDNHA organized a special tour of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., for members of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas. Here is a powerful reflective essay written by Dr. Emily Moore who experienced the tour with her husband, Dr. Herman Blake, Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. Dr. Moore's personal account poignantly illustrates the enduring historical and cultural significance of a 1955 Mississippi Delta story that still resonates with 21st century America: the lynching of African American teenager Emmett Till, an international tragedy widely cited as the "spark that lit the fuse" of the modern Civil Rights Movement. 

2016 Grant Recipient Updates

Learn more about how these MDNHA grantee organizations are 
advancing cultural heritage education and development in the Mississippi Delta!

If you would like learn more, you may  visit the grants page on our website , or signup to our grants-specific email list to receive information as soon as we have things finalized.

If you've not visited the  NPS Heritage & Historic Preservation Facebook page , we encourage you to do so. There are lots of wonderful things happening in conjunction with our national parks!
Curious about where to go in the Delta?
Look Who Visited The Delta Center
(L to R) Dr. Rolando Herts, Kelli Carr, Rolling Stone journalist Xavier Bonnet from France and Lee Aylward
Terri and John from Green Bay, Wisconsin
(L to R) NEH workshop alum from Carroll County, MS, with Lee Aylward and colleague
Josephine and Chris from Canada
Joe and George from New Jersey
Nancy and Becky from McComb, MS

For more information on The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, please visit 

For more information on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, please visit

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