The Delta Center Newsletter

With the holiday season upon us, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University dedicates this newsletter to friends, collaborators, and stakeholders who continue to help us 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. 

We thank the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell, Cedric Burnside, Dr. David Evans, Delta Hands for Hope, Rosedale Freedom Project, Delta State University faculty, staff, students, guests, and others for continued involvement in the  International Delta Blues Project. Our Third  International Conference on the Blues was a great success with over 400 attendees, followed by  a "sold out" Blues Leadership Incubator public screening of the film "Take Me To the River" at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

We thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for funding  "The Most Southern Place on Earth" workshop in summer 2017. We also thank the Mississippi Humanities Council for inviting NEH Chairman William "Bro" Adams to visit The Delta Center  and experience a portion of the educational immersion program that transform our "Most Southern" K-12 educators (over 500 alumni and counting, whom we also thank) into ambassadors for the  Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA)

We thank the National Park Service and our Congressional representatives in Washington, DC for continued support of the MDNHA. With important projects and initiatives like  the MDNHA Grant Programthe Regional Engagement and Advancement Partnership Fund (which supported  installation of the Unita Blackwell Freedom Trail Marker in Mayersville, MS), and  the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership Program, a spirit of thankfulness continues to spread throughout MDNHA. On behalf of the MDNHA Board of Directors, we also are thankful for the service of pro-bono attorney and Greenville native Jerry Hafter who passed away unexpectedly this fall.

Last but not least, we thank you, our readers, who continue to spread the word about the good work that is happening here at The Delta Center. Happy reading . . . and Happy Holidays! 

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

Third International Conference on the Blues hosted at Delta State
This year, the Third International Conference on the Blues engaged over 400 Blues scholars, historians and fans to experience a keynote address from Memphis-based GRAMMY Award-winner Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi; performances from GRAMMY nominee and four-time Blues Music Award winner Cedric Burnside; a lecture from GRAMMY winner and internationally renowned ethnomusicologist Dr. David Evans; and presentations from Blues researchers and educators from around the world. 


The Delta Center and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi recently presented a free, public screening of the critically acclaimed film  "Take Me to the River," followed by live performances from The Hi Rhythm section, Stax Music Academy Alumni Band, William Bell, Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, and GRAMMY winner Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell.  This  Blues Leadership Incubator  event engaged nearly 150 youth and local residents, making it GRAMMY Museum Mississippi's first "sold out" event since it opened in March of this year.

Blues Scholar and sociologist Scott Barretta provides more insight in this article on the International Delta Blues Project website.

"One of the foremost challenges for the blues today concerns how to make the music relevant for young people. This is of particular concern in the Mississippi Delta, where the blues is both our cultural heritage and a driver of the economy. Pursuing awareness of these issues and developing effective strategies is a central goal of the International Delta Blues Project's Blues Leadership Incubator program, which is housed in The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. This series of free public workshops, lectures, and events inspire Mississippi Delta residents, particularly youth, to consider how Blues tourism, arts, culture, and creativity can lead to economic opportunity."  

Study the culture of the Blues and the Mississippi Delta from anywhere in the world!
Enroll in the International Blues Scholars Program for summer 2017

Congratulations to Elizabeth Ogle and Cody Kee, the first students to complete the Blues Studies minor at Delta State University!

For the seventh year, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University has been awarded a NEH grant for "The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History, and Culture of the Mississippi Delta" workshop for K-12 educators. To learn more and to apply, visit the "Most Southern" website 

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

At the invitation of the Mississippi Humanities Council, The Delta Center hosted National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William "Bro" Adams during his recent visit to the Mississippi Delta region. Chairman Adams' visit included tours of Dockery Farms, the historic black town of Mound Bayou, Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Park in Ruleville, and lunch at The Senator's Place in Cleveland.

The MDNHA is thrilled to be included prominently in the National Heritage Areas Newsletter  published by the National Park Service  in partnership with the Alliance of National Heritage Areas. Watch the new MDNHA promo video that promotes the Mississippi Delta region and the NPS Centennial. Also, learn about the MDNHA's collaboration with The Delta Center's International Delta Blues Project during the Take Me To the River event at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. The event featured oral history documentaries created by students from  Delta Hands for Hope of Shaw, MS, and  Rosedale Freedom Project of Rosedale, MS.
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!

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Board of Directors has approved the awarding of up to $200,000 in grants in FY2017 for local projects that further the strategic goals and themes of the Heritage Area.

Grants will be awarded in late May or early June for project activities taking place between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Applications will be due in the MDNHA office in late March.

We will be hosting a series of workshops at the end of January. We are still working out locations and times, but we will be offering sessions in Upper, Mid, and Lower Delta sites.

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.


Over the past year and a half, the  Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership Program has raised awareness of the importance of preserving the voices and stories of our elders and our communities through oral history gathering and photography. The program has engaged over 1,000 Mississippi Delta residents and visitors throughout the state of Mississippi, as well as during a special presentation at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC, commemorating Women's History Month and the NPS Centennial.
Our final Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership Program will take place at the historic Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center in Jackson, MS, on Thursday, December 15, 2016, at 6pm. As with all Delta Jewels programs, this event will be free and open to the public. Mark your calendars, and we look forward to seeing you there!

The Delta Center extends a BIG THANK YOU to Lydia Haley and Stephanie Green two talented and dedicated graduate assistants who completed their academic programs at Delta State this past summer and to our 2016 Robertson Scholars Trey Walk and Kyra Exterovich-Rubin from Duke and UNC Chapel Hill who helped to make our NEH "Most Southern" workshop a phenomenal success this year!  

The Delta Center team with 
Lydia Haley and Stephanie Green (front left and right)
Trey Walk and Kyra Exterovich-Rubin pose with 
Delta State University President William Laforge.

Curious about where to go in the Delta?
Look Who Visited The Delta Center
MDNHA Passport Collectors

Seasons Greetings from our annual luncheon honoring our wonderful Facilities Management colleagues at Delta State!

In Memoriam: 
Jerry Hafter, MDNHA Board Attorney
Jo Cile Hafter accepts a plaque from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area in honor of her husband Jerry Hafter's contributions to the MDNHA. She is pictured here with Dr. Rolando Herts, Dr. Myrtis Tabb, and Spencer Nash.

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

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