Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Announced

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently awarded over $150,000 in grants, bringing it's two-year total of awards to more than $300,000 to organizations managing projects throughout the Mississippi Delta region.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently awarded over $150,000 in grants, bringing it's two-year total of awards to more than $300,000 to organizations managing projects throughout the Mississippi Delta region.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) is pleased to announce over $155,000 in grants for nine projects focused on cultural and heritage development in the Mississippi Delta.

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.

“We are pleased to support a broad range of work from communities and organizations dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the Delta,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors.  “We are encouraged by the number and scope of applicants in our second year of the Small Grants Program, and hope others will be motivated to participate in future rounds of funding.”

“We do our best to fund work in all parts of the Delta, and in a variety of areas of interest that complement MDNHA’s mission,” said Meg Cooper, Chair of the MDNHA Grants Committee.  “We have now approved a total of over $300,000 in projects in our two years of grant making.”

“The MDNHA is designed to engage and empower organizations and individuals to promote the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, which serves as the management entity for MDNHA.  “This partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service is crucial to the preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Delta’s heritage that is at the core of our mission.”

Grant recipients and their funded projects include:

Delta Health Center, Inc.establish the Dr. L. C. Dorsey Community Health Center Museum in Mound Bayou

Dockery Farms Foundationrestore and preserve the historic Dockery Farms cotton gin, and develop historical exhibits within the gin building

The Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State Universitydevelopment of a new track of classes for its CORE Arts Camp that showcases tales of origination in song and story

Mississippi Valley State Universitydesign and present symposium lectures, panel discussions, musical performances and other work in support of the B. B. King Day symposium

Mississippi State Universitygenerate knowledge about and provide estimates of the economic value of preserving sites of cultural significance in the Delta

Greenville Arts Councilprovide artist residencies to teachers and students that preserve the rich artistic traditions of the Mississippi Delta

Mississippi Heritage Trustconduct four Historic Preservation Toolkit workshops that teach local towns and organizations how to leverage funding to preserve historic places

Delta State University, Department of Archives and HistoryPreserving the historic Mississippi Delta Chinese foodways culture through stories of family, place and cuisine

Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of CommerceRestoration of the Façade and Interior of the Cleveland Depot building

The MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. 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 www.msdeltaheritage.com.

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 International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops.  For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

 

National Heritage Areas of Mississippi host Collaboration Clinic

Collaboration Clinic participants from Mississippi and across the country engage in a team visioning exercise at the Biloxi Visitors Center.

Collaboration Clinic participants from Mississippi and across the country engage in a team visioning exercise at the Biloxi Visitors Center.

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

"Collaboration Clinics are a proposed model for helping NPS staff, stakeholders, and partners develop more effective skills for collaboration,” said Elizabeth Smith-Incer, Mississippi Field Office Director for the Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program. “Planners, superintendents, and other decision makers need this kind of training to engage communities as we make decisions about the resources we preserve and protect."

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. 

“We were honored to host this first clinic,” said Rhonda Price, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast NHA. “I think collaboration and partnerships are keys to a successful NHA. We are excited to start working together on joint projects like the NPS/NHA passport program.”

Collaboration Clinic participants learn about bird tourism at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

Collaboration Clinic participants learn about bird tourism at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

Staff and board members from the three National Heritage Areas attended along with representatives from Visit Mississippi and the Department of Archives & History in Jackson. Out-of-state attendees included representatives from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the NPS Office of Partnerships & Philanthropic Stewardship based in Washington, DC.

“In order for National Heritage Areas to thrive, collaboration is vital.”  Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area Executive Director Mary Cates Williams stated. “I was very thankful to the National park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program for facilitating this workshop and allowing Mississippi’s three NHA’s to discuss ways to expand and grow our programs. I can speak for all of us when I say that we are grateful to have the support of not only the National Park Service but our Mississippi Congressional delegation as well.” 

The workshop included discussions and exercises on a range of topics including achieving results through collaboration, improving communication, and managing conflict. 

The group also heard presentations from Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University which serves as the management entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. The presentations were about the passport program and the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. 

 “We discussed developing a statewide Passport to Your National Parks map and other cooperative marketing strategies to promote tourism to our areas,” said Dr. Herts. “We also learned about bird tourism partnership opportunities at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. This was a very productive workshop that will help all of us work together to better serve Delta, Hills, and Gulf Coast residents and visitors.” 

A SPECIAL VISIT TO THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE “AND, I CRIED . . .”

essay by:
Emily L. Moore, Ed.D., Professor Emerita, Iowa State University, Higher Education
EL Moore © 2017

 

Editor’s Note: How the Smithsonian, National Park Service, and National Heritage Areas tell stories together

During the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) Annual Meeting in February 2017, I had the honor of working with Brandi Roberts, Executive Director of Great Basin National Heritage Area (Nevada) Sara Capen, Executive Director of Niagara Falls National Heritage Area (New York) to organize a special ANHA tour of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. The tour was arranged in collaboration with Smithsonian Ambassador Mossi Tull and the museum's education division. 

National Heritage Areas are cultural heritage partnerships with the National Park Service. The Smithsonian NMAAHC features exhibits that relate to many National Heritage Area stories, including the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which spans Lowcountry coastal communities shared by four states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

The following 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.  

- Rolando Herts, Ph.D., The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area


On February 13th, 2017, during Black History Month, Herman Blake and I, with nearly one hundred other people from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, experienced an opportunity of our lifetime – a guided tour by a docent of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Washington D.C. 

What made our visit so remarkable was: (1) at the time, there were no tickets available to visit the museum until April 2017; (2) the reality of Black History Month weighed heavily on us; and (3) our two-hour tour was provided before the museum opened to the public for the day. Thus, our group was alone to wander and tour the four level building; question and read; hear the music and see the artifacts; listen to the voices of the past with explanations from the docent; and remember the events that made us smile, hurt and struggle. 

The power of the museum won’t let you be a visitor. You are a part of the reality of the exhibit. You cannot look away. You cannot say “I am not involved.” You are absolutely in the moment. And, then sometimes, you cry.

As written in their literature, this is “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture . . . established by an Act of Congress in 2003 . . . and opened on September 24, 2016 . . . it has 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 charter members.” Quoting Lonnie Bunch, founding director, “there are few things as powerful and as important as a people, as a nation that is steeped in its history.” 

Herman and I met Dr. Lonnie Bunch in Hilton Head, SC, a few months before the opening of the museum. He spoke to us about the plans and expectations. I had no idea of the magnitude and the quality of the museum, the exhibits and the planning that developed this wonderful experience. 

Our tour was arranged by Dr. Rolando Herts, Director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. An energetic and bright young man, Rolando took the picture of Herman and me at the South Carolina Rice exhibit. About half way through the tour, I recall telling him, “It’s hard to watch and relive your life as history.” There was so much to see and learn. It really takes more than a day to walk, sit and think about what you’ve seen or are seeing. 

Obviously the developers, curators and archivists understood the impact of the museum. There were several spaces on each level . . . a room, a corner, a place to sit and quietly reflect on the experience. These spaces were absolutely needed. Sometimes one is overwhelmed by what happens as a video streams before your eyes. You are stunned by what you didn’t know; by what you knew but forgot; or by what you don’t want to remember. I used one of those spaces to cry . . . to just cry my heart out. 

Herman and I were walking past the Woolworth Sit-in Stools, Interactive Lunch Counter exhibit. I asked a staff member about the Emmett Till Memorial. It was at the end of hall. I started walking and looked back at Herman. He indicated that it was going to be too much for him. I walked on alone. 

There were two small rooms in the exhibit. A staff person stood in the outer room. It felt much like the vestibule of a church; but I wondered why the staff person was there. I would soon understand. 

I looked at the artifacts and moved to the inner room. I found myself in a church service. Not just a Sunday service; but I had the feel of a funeral service. I sat down on the first pew and realized in front of me was the actual coffin that held Emmett Till’s body. I looked up and saw the procession and words of people speaking. I heard the choir singing, his mother speaking and the preacher preaching. There were photos of Emmett Till, the young teen, brutally killed in Mississippi and of his mother who insisted that the casket remain open, so the world could see what they did to her son.

I remembered Emmett Till’s story. He was from Chicago and went to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi, when he was killed. I was a child in Chicago when it happened. My mother showed me the article in Jet magazine. I believe my aunts attended the wake. Many of our neighbors, family and friends paid their respects also. I was afraid. 

Sitting on the pew in the National Museum of African American History, I was transported to my childhood as I relived the past with an adult’s knowledge of the future. And, it hurt. It really hurt and I started to cry. 

Rising from the seat, I found myself walking away from the exhibit. I looked straight ahead. I did not want to talk to anyone. Herman understood. I found my quiet place and I cried. There are rooms on every level of this museum where you can record your feelings and impressions. I used two of them as a way to unburden my long held memories and fears. 

My God! 

This was like no museum I had ever visited and that’s what makes it important and significant. There are many exhibits –  joyful, inspirational, challenging, and interesting that make you smile and laugh. There are others that make you bow your head and cry. The museum elicits all of your emotions. Yet, there is a diversity of people around you who understand your feelings and share your experience.

It is a community. It is a museum. It is educational and, in ways, spiritual. 

It is a must-visit of a lifetime.

 

 

 

Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum holds Open House

The newly renovated Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum recently held an open house to officially share recent updates made possible, in part, by a grant from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. The museum includes displays sharing the story of Teddy Roosevelt and his bear hunt that lead to the creation of the 'Teddy Bear", artifacts from area indian mounds, and music by blues great Muddy Waters, who was born in Rolling Fork and still has family there.

The Visitors Center and Museum, located just off Highway 61 on Walnut Street is manned by volunteers ready to tell you all about our area, and is open Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special tours may be arranged by calling 662.873.2232. 

MDNHA Provides Grant Information to Delta Communities

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently hosted a series of grant workshops throughout the region in collaboration with Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Humanities Council, and Mississippi Department of Archives & History. The workshops were held in Senatobia, Indianola, and Vicksburg and engaged over 60 individuals representing 48 organizations from 12 MDNHA counties, as well as Hinds County (Jackson) and Jefferson County (Alcorn State University). 

The MDNHA grant program supports projects that provide a deeper understanding of the culture and heritage of the Mississippi Delta. The workshops provided proposal writing tips for the MDNHA grant program. For those unable to attend, video segments of the workshops and other helpful information can be found on the MDNHA website at https://www.msdeltaheritage.com/grants.

“One of the things I was most impressed with was how adamant all of the organizations were to help everyone that showed interest in the process,” said Adrienne Hudson, Executive Director of RISE, Inc. “It didn’t matter if you were a corporate entity, a long standing non-profit, an education-based group, or just a community member looking to make things better - the goal was clearly to help as many people as possible understand the resources that are available to them. I’m excited to know I can revisit this information on the MDNHA website, just in case I still have questions moving forward.”

In addition to information about the MDNHA’s grant program, representatives from Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Humanities Council, and Mississippi Department of Archives & History were on hand to discuss their grant opportunities.

Brenda Outlaw attended the Indianola workshop in hopes of getting a better understanding of possible projects that could be implemented in her hometown of Merigold. 

“It was so helpful to have these four agencies in the same place at the same time,” she said. “I went in thinking there were only a few possibilities for different things we could do in Merigold, and came away realizing there is support for lots of ideas that can help us in our little town.”

This is the second year the MDNHA has offered grants. Last year over $180,000 was awarded to 14 organizations throughout the MDNHA. Projects ranged from arts-based projects and oral histories to cultural signage and infrastructure. 

Applications must be received by 4PM on Monday, March 20, at The Delta Center for Culture and Learning in order to be considered for this funding cycle.

The MDNHA is a cultural heritage partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. Led by Dr. Rolando Herts, Director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, the MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.

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 www.msdeltaheritage.com. Information about the grants program is also available at this website.

For more information, contact The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311, or email grants@msdeltaheritage.com.

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 International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/

MDNHA featured in tourism, education, and preservation publications

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area has been featured in key publications for successfully implementing projects that have contributed to cultural heritage tourism and historic preservation education, as well as engaged residents in celebrating and preserving Mississippi Delta stories.

The MDNHA was featured in the Winter 2017 issue of Elevation, The Journal of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, for supporting the Mississippi Delta Mad Mod Affair, a tour of modernist structures throughout the region that attracted over 50 architecture enthusiasts from throughout the state. The tour ended with a special reception at the mayor of Clarksdale, MS’ home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé E. Fay Jones where guests met Academy Award-winning actor and Mississippi Delta native Morgan Freeman. The Journal also contains an article about the MDNHA’s Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership, a series of interpretive community events sharing stories of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta. The Partnership has engaged over 1,000 residents, visitors, and supporters commemorating the National Park Service Centennial (see the final report). In addition, the MDNHA’s Top 40 Places to Visit in the Mississippi Delta website – developed in partnership with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi – and the Passport to Your National Parks program both were featured in Delta Magazine’s annual tourism guide, January/February 2017.

ANHA, NPS, and NPCA tour Smithsonian NMAAHC

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas kicked off its 2017 Annual Meeting with a special group tour of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The tour was organized by Dr. Rolando Herts (Mississippi Delta NHA), Brandi Roberts (Great Basin NHA), and Sara Capen (Niagara Falls NHA), in collaboration with Smithsonian NMAAHC Ambassador Mossi Tull and the museum’s education division. Approximately 60 individuals participated in the tour, including Alliance members and supporters representing nearly 20 NHAs, along with representatives from the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association. Staffers from the Office of Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) also participated. The Alliance is among the first groups to receive a guided tour of the Smithsonian NMAAHC through the museum’s recently established docent program.

The Smithsonian NMAAHC is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

MDNHA to provide grant workshops with statewide funders

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area will hold a series of workshops across the Delta to present information about grants available in 2017 to support local projects and activities that further MDNHA’s mission of fostering preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Delta’s heritage through a climate of collaboration and sustainable economic development.

This is the second year the MDNHA has offered these workshops in conjunction with its grant program. Last year, 14 grants were funded by the MDNHA totalling over $185,000. Up to $200,000 will be available from MDNHA for grants in 2017.  Nonprofits, educational institutions, schools, units of local government and others are eligible for the grants and encouraged to attend one of the three workshops.  

In addition to the funding available from the MDNHA grants program, several state agencies will participate in the workshops to discuss their respective grant opportunities. This partnership is part of the mission of the MDNHA, which is not only to create a grants resource itself, but also to help the citizens of the Mississippi Delta connect to as many grants opportunities as possible. Representatives from the MS Arts Commission, MS Humanities Council and MS Department of Archives and History will also be present at each workshop to discuss funding opportunities that may complement the work funded by MDNHA.

The workshops are scheduled for:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 – 1PM to 4PM

The Haraway Center, Northwest MS Community College
4975 Highway 51 North, Senatobia, MS
(campus map available at http://www.northwestms.edu/index.php/?page_id=1128


Thursday, February 2, 2017 – 1PM to 4PM

The Capps Center, Room 101 (Seminar Room)
920 US Highway 82 West, Indianola, MS


Tuesday, February 7, 2017 – 1PM to 4PM

MSU Extension Service (Warren County)
1100 C Grove Street, Vicksburg, MS

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a cultural heritage partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service.  Led by Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, the MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. 

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 www.msdeltaheritage.com/grants.  Information about the grants program is also available at this website.

For more information, contact The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311, or email hmiller@deltastate.edu or grants@msdeltaheritage.com

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 International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.