The Delta Center Newsletter
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.

This past weekend, I shared with Facebook friends this photo with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist  Alysia Burton Steele, author of the forthcoming book, Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisdom, a collection of oral histories and photographs of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta. The photo was taken at the grand opening dedication of the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse and Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner where Ms. Steele read excerpts of her book to a standing room only crowd during a live broadcast of the Thacker Mountain Radio Program.
One Facebook friend commented, "A lot is happening in your area . . . sounds awesome. Healing and wisdom are being imparted for all generations to learn and grow from our past." Indeed, a lot is happening in the Mississippi Delta this spring. Seeds are being planted not only in the vast farmlands throughout our region; seeds also are being planted in the hearts and minds of our residents and our visitors for their intellectual growth and cultural development. 
This issue of The Delta Center Newsletter highlights programs and events across our region that are sowing seeds of positive change.  Mayor Johnny Thomas of Glendora, MS, hosted an action summit (pictured above) in response to  President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge," an initiative to encourage community leaders nationwide to develop plans, improve life outcomes, and create educational opportunities for all youth. More than 100 mayors, county officials, and tribal nations nationwide have accepted the MBK Community Challenge; Mayor Thomas is among them. 

The Delta Center team was invited to give a presentation on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area at the National Exchange Club of Cleveland, MS (also pictured above). Known as "America's Service Club," this group took great interest in opportunities to work with the Heritage Area toward promoting education and awareness about our region's rich cultural heritage. Toward this end, The Delta Center has begun to engage a group of local volunteers to help guide various spring break groups during their experiential learning tours of the region.     

The Delta Center, in partnership with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and Vicksburg National Military Park, also is one of the sponsoring organizations for next week's Winning the Race conference on race relations and diversity at Delta State University. The keynote speaker will be Clifton Taulbert, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, entrepreneur, and proud son of the Mississippi Delta. Other presenters include Jacqueline Dace, Project Manager for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum; Robert Stanton, Former Director of the National Park Service; Dr. Ann Markusen, Director of the Arts Economy Initiative, University of Minnesota; Dr. Charles McKinney, Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and Director of the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies, Rhodes College; and Governor William Winter, who was instrumental in the founding of the William Winter Institute on Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. The Opening Reception for the conference will celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, which aims to reconnect people with their national parks. We invite you to register for and attend this educational event!

Alysia Burton Steele also will present at the Winning the Race conference before she launches her national book tour. As part of the tour, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area will host a free, public series of Delta Jewels Community Gatherings featuring Ms. Steele and several of the African American church mothers from the book who are living right here in our region. The Community Gatherings will take place April 27 - May 4 in Clarksdale, Charleston, Indianola, Yazoo City, and Ruleville. These are  nationally significant Delta stories told by Delta residents in Delta communities, something of which we all can be proud - and it all will happen just in time for Mother's Day! 

The Delta Center is playing diverse roles with these and other initiatives: leader, partner, stakeholder, supporter, teacher, connector . . . through it all, the common threads are education, partnerships, and community engagement. These are the primary mechanisms by which our team fulfills the mission of The Delta Center. 

Best regards,

Rolando Herts, Ph.D.
Delta Center News

The Delta Center provides Experiential Learning Tours 

The Delta Center hosted a series of Delta Experiential Learning Tours for multiple college, university, and other educational groups over spring break. Visiting groups included University of Virginia's Hillel Jewish student group; Mississippi State University Alternative Spring Break ; Minnesota State University ; Emory University ; Harvard Law School ; and  Lehrhaus Judaica from Berkeley, California.  Visit the links to learn more. 
Harvard Law School (above left) and University of Maryland (above right)

Minnesota State University (above) and 
2015 Teach for America Delta Institute Staff (below)

  The 33-member Lehrhaus Judaica group from California's Bay Area, billed as "Jews, Blues, and  Jazz" (below). They traveled from Memphis to New Orleans, with stops in Cleveland and Greenwood.  
Updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
MDNHA Passport Program: Phase I Completion
Dion Brown, Executive Director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, with the Sunflower County Passport Station 

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Passport Program, launched in November 2014, has completed its first phase of implementation. The Delta Center and all 18 counties in the MDNHA now have a passport station. Click here for a complete list of the 19 passport station locations currently in operation. 

The program already has generated a steady stream of visitors to the region seeking stamps for their collection. Phase II implementation will feature special incentives for visitors who successfully collect all 19 passport stamps. Each stamp has a unique identifying feature. Can you guess what distinguishes one stamp from another? Stay tuned! 

Terry from Ohio gets his passport stamp at The Delta Center. Terry is one of thousands of travelers who are avid National Park Service passport stamp collectors. Note his personal passport stamp booklet. 


MDNHA Spotlight: Museum of the Mississippi Delta 


The Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood, MS, is being redesigned under the leadership of executive director,  Cheryl Taylor. Toward achieving comprehensive interpretation of Mississippi Delta history and culture,  Taylor is  using themes found in the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Management Plan to help guide the creation of new exhibits. 


The five cultural heritage themes detailed in the Management Plan are: 

(1) The Mississippi Delta and the Land It Embraces

(2) The Culture of the Blues and the Birth of an American Sound

(3) Moving Toward Freedom: Changing America's Character in the Struggle for Rights

(4) Growing More than Cotton: The Delta as a Wellspring of Creativity

(5) The Delta Divide: Creating the Delta's Diverse Communities

The Museum of the Mississippi Delta is scheduled to reopen in May 2015. For more information, click here

MDNHA promoted in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Rolando Herts with Congressman Bennie Thompson (left) and Senator Roger Wicker (right) 

In February 2015, Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA), attended the annual meeting of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the meeting was to acknowledge the ongoing support of federal Congressional representatives for the National Heritage Areas movement. He also strengthened relationships with National Heritage Area colleagues. For more information, click here .  
Dr. Rolando Herts with (left photo) Debra Credeur,  Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and Allen Sachse, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor  and with (left photo)  Cate Magennis Wyatt, The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership; Angie Chandler, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area; and Judy Sizemore, Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area.
Upcoming events


 Winning the Race Through Hearts and Minds

 Race Relations and Diversity Conference
Delta State University

Winning the Race Pre-Conference Event:
Lunch and Learn with Dr. Ann Markusen
Clarksdale's Crossroads Cultural Arts Center: 
Creative Placemaking, the Creative Economy, and Diversity
Monday, March 30, 10 am - 1 pm
Coahoma County Higher Education Center, Cutrer Mansion
109 Clark Street, Clarksdale, MS

To register your attendance, 
email or 
call The Delta Center at (662) 846-4311
For more information about the Lunch and Learn event, click here

*      *      *

Winning the Race Opening Reception
Featured Guest: Robert Stanton 
Former Director of the National Park Service
Monday, March 30, 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Bologna Performing Arts Center
Delta State University

Sponsored by 
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
The Delta Center for Culture and Learning
Vicksburg National Military Park
Eastern National for the National Park Service Centennial
For more information on the opening session click here.
Delta Jewels Community Gatherings

The forthcoming book by Alysia Burton Steele, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism professor at the University of Mississippi, will feature photographs and oral histories of 50 African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta. Come meet and hear Ms. Steele and the treasured Delta Jewels - their stories are Delta stories and are an important part of the American story. The book is published by Hachette Book Group and is being released nationwide on APRIL 7, 2015. 

To view the promo video, click here

Delta State University is pleased to announce 

the Second International Conference on the Blues. 

The conference will be held October 5-6, 2015.


Topics of general interest to scholars and enthusiasts alike will be presented, including African American musical traditions and their influence on American music and culture; the Blues; folklore; history; race and ethnicity; and the Mississippi Delta.


Please like our Facebook page!

Heather Miller and Rolando Herts with the MS Blues Trail Marker: Alligator Blues. For more information about the MS Blues Trail, 



This issue of The Delta Center Newsletter  is dedicated to 
Dr. Henry Outlaw
Scholar, Gentleman, and Friend of The Delta Center
June 17, 1937 - February 21, 2015

Dr. Henry Outlaw was born in Pickwick, Tennessee. Upon graduating from Baldwyn High School, he introduced himself to Delta State College and Cleveland, by riding through a pep rally bonfire riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He spent the rest of his life devoted to the university and students he loved. 


Dr. Outlaw graduated from Delta State College in 1961 with a B.S. degree in chemistry and biology. He received Master's and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry from the University of Mississippi Medical School. 


From 1965-66, Dr. Outlaw was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Florida Medical School. He became a Fellow-in-Residence in the School of Theology at the University of the South and a Templeton Fellow in Science and Religion at Oxford University. He served as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School. 


Dr. Outlaw taught chemistry at Delta State University from 1966-2002 and served as Chairman of the Department of Physical Sciences from 1970-2002. While serving as Chair, the Department of Chemistry became the first department at Delta State to earn national certification. He also worked at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning as a program associate and was instrumental in fundraising for the DSU Alumni Foundation. After retiring, he continued to support DSU by recruiting students and attending various alumni meetings. 


If you would like to donate to Delta State University 

in Dr. Henry Outlaw's name, please visit  

Link to Additional Resource  ยป

Dr. Rolando Herts, Director


Lee Aylward, Program Associate


Heather Miller, Program Associate


Patricia Webster, Administrative Assistant


For more information on the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, please visit  and for more information on the MS Delta National Heritage Area, please visit