This month the US Congress formally approved the management plan for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, which is comprised of 18 counties that contain land inside the Delta region. It's one of just fifty National Heritage Areas in the country. Here's a news article that explains the process leading up to Congress' approval.
A central idea behind National Heritage Areas is to foster identify, celebrate and perpetuate cultural resources for the purposes of both education and economic development, such as through foster blues and Civil Rights tourism.
The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area focuses on five themes.
- The Mississippi River and the Land It Embraces
- The Culture of the Blues and the Birth of an American Sound
- Moving Toward Freedom: Changing America’s Character in the Struggle for Rights
- Growing More than Cotton: The Delta as a Wellspring of Creativity
- The Delta Divide: Building Communities.
The board for the non-profit organization is chaired by Delta State University President John Hilpert, and much of the legwork was conducted by Dr. Luther Brown, who recently retired from DSU's Delta Center for Culture and Learning. Brown has contributed immensely to drawing attention to the cultural wealth of the region for the last fourteen years, and will continue to work with the Center. DSU recently announced his replacement, Dr. Rolando Herts, who has worked extensively on the issue of universities and tourism and served for several years in the Delta with Teach For America.
On October 6-7 Delta State will host the first International Conference of the Blues, featuring artist including Alvin Youngblood Hart and speakers including Robert Santelli of the Grammy Museum.