Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA), recently 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. The Delta Center is the management entity for the MDNHA.
“Engaging with elected officials at local, state and national levels is an important part of the work that The Delta Center does on behalf of the MDNHA,” said Herts. “Through the strong support of Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Bennie Thompson, the MDNHA Management Plan was approved in August 2014. Attending the Alliance of National Heritage Areas meeting provided an opportunity to update them on our progress so far, as well as to exchange best practices with other National Heritage Area and National Park Service colleagues.”
The Delta Center is collaborating with several partners across the region to begin implementing the MDNHA Management Plan. A major first project is the regional expansion of the MDNHA Passport Program, which is designed to stimulate tourist visits to all 18 counties in the Mississippi Delta region. Since the expansion was initiated in November of 2014, passport stations have been placed in convention and visitors bureaus, courthouses and museums in Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Leflore, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tunica, Warren and Yazoo counties.
In addition, the MDNHA is partnering with the Winning the Race Conference at Delta State University to host an evening reception on March 30. The reception will provide an opportunity for Delta residents and visitors to meet Robert Stanton, the first African American director of the National Park Service, and to learn more about the MDNHA.
In April, the MDNHA is partnering with various civic, educational, and cultural organizations to host Delta Jewels Community Gatherings in Clarksdale, Charleston, Ruleville, Indianola and Yazoo City. These community gatherings will tell stories of Mississippi Delta church mothers whose photographs and oral histories are being published in the soon-to-be-released book, “Delta Jewels,” authored by Alicia Burton Steele, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi.