Discover / Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
Save a National Treasure
REGION: South
LOCATION:
Multiple Counties, MS
TYPE: Landscape
The Mississippi Delta has been referred to as the "cradle of American culture." | Photo: National Trust
The Mississippi Delta has been referred to as the "cradle of American culture." | Photo: National Trust
Opportunity
Tell the unique stories of this distinctive area and develop a management plan to protect its landscapes, historic sites, and cultural traditions.

Overview

The Mississippi Delta has been referred to as the “cradle of American culture” for its role in shaping our nation’s character and culture. The American story is reflected here in countless ways: it is the land where the blues was born, where the Civil Rights movement took root, and where increasingly mechanized farming sparked the Great Migration. However, state and local funding cuts, an economically depressed local economy, and neglect of historic properties threaten the character of the 18-county region. Without careful planning, one of the nation’s rarest and most beloved heritage areas could lose the qualities that make it unique.

National Significance

In 2009, Congress designated the region as a National Heritage Area to “foster partnerships and educational opportunities that enhance, preserve, and promote the heritage of the Mississippi Delta.” Since then, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s board has contracted with the National Trust for Historic Preservation through the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University to develop a plan that will address stewardship of resources, interpretation of the region’s history, and methods of reaching new audiences. The National Trust is also helping to identify threatened historic resources and provide assistance for their preservation.

Campaign Goals

  • Develop a management plan that will guide the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s activities for the next 10-15 years.
  • Identify key historic sites in the region in need of preservation.
  • Showcase best practices as a resource for other National Heritage Areas.

Ways To Help

Tells us why the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area matters to you.

Posted on July 28, 2014

Written by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

The National Trust for Historic Preservation completed 2½ years of work with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area with the approval of a 10-year management plan by the Secretary of Interior and the National Park Service.

“Approval means that our National Heritage Area is ready to launch all aspects of its mission to and for the citizens and economy of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. John Hilpert, the Governor’s appointee and Chairman of the Board governing the heritage area. 

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area was authorized by Congress in 2009 with leadership from Congressman Bennie Thompson, Senator Thad Cochran and Senator Roger Wicker.  Once designated, all National Heritage Areas are required to complete a rigorous planning process. 

The National Trust led a team a consultants who worked with the heritage area’s governing board and stakeholders throughout the area to develop the management plan. The process involved public meetings, extensive research, surveys, interviews, site visits and an inventory of heritage resources. The final document describes in detail what the National Heritage Area will do and how it will be governed for the first decade of operation. 

The management plan encompasses three key strategy areas: Build the Network, Save Historic Resources and The Delta Experience. Each strategy area includes numerous action steps designed to build strong partnerships, preserve historic structures and living traditions and to document and tell the Delta’s story.

Among the first activities the heritage area will undertake are placing signs welcoming people to the Mississippi Delta, organizing an annual symposium on the Delta’s heritage, and promoting historic preservation and interpretation of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage.

The management plan is available at http://www.msdeltaheritage.com.

 

Tour groups learn about the Mississippi Delta and generate economic impact for the area. A statue of Fannie Lou Hamer honors the Civil Rights leader.
Posted on May 20, 2013

Written by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

The Mississippi Delta's fame as a destination to hear Blues music was featured in the New York Times travel section Sunday, May 19:

http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/travel/driving-the-juke-joint-trail.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 

 Please check back often for additional updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 19, 2013

Venture down to the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area this September to take part in the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, the largest and oldest blues festival in the country.  Listen to modern blues artists from near and far. For more information visit, http://www.deltablues.org

Posted on April 12, 2013

Carolyn BrackettWritten by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

After a year of research, study and public input, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s board of directors has determined that the management plan will be developed with a blended focus on building a network of partners, saving places, perpetuating the Delta’s culture and traditions and telling the Delta’s story. The plan, scheduled for completion in early 2014, will guide the heritage area’s activities for the next 10-15 years.

 The decision was reached by considering five alternatives – or options – for the heritage area.  Each alternative reflected different priorities including use of resources, partnerships and implementation strategies. The five alterMDNHA boardnatives considered were:

  • No Action – What would happen if the Mississippi Delta was not a National Heritage Area?
  • Tell the Delta’s Story – Focus on documentation and interpretation of the Delta’s heritage, cultural and natural resources. Include activities for residents and visitors as well as focusing on heritage education.
  • Build the Network – Position the Mississippi Delta NHA as a convener to bring together partners in preservation, conservation, tourism and community development to achieve goals. Take the lead in some activities; be a partner or advocate for other activities.
  • Save Places and Perpetuate Culture – Document, save and revitalize historic structures, conserve natural resources and preserve and region’s culture and living traditions.
  • A Blend – Develop a plan to blend elements from the other alternatives – tell the story, build the network, save places and perpetuate culture – to create a climate of sustainable economic development based on the region’s heritage and culture.

 Participants in two public meetings on February 26 in Southaven and Greenwood considered the alternatives and recommended selection of the “blended” approach. On February 27, the heritage area’s planning committees – interpretation, civic engagement and resource stewardship – met to consider the alternatives and also recommended the “blended” alternative.

 At the conclusion of the public meetings and committee meeting, the MDNHA board of directors met to review the recommendations. The board voted unanimously to select the “blended” alternative as the basis for the management plan and the heritage area’s activities in the coming years.

 In the coming months, the management plan will be drafted to include strategies which will bring partners together to accomplish the heritage area’s goals in interpretation, education, preservation, community and economic development.

 Public meetings will be scheduled in the fall of 2013 to present the draft management plan and to solicit feedback from the Delta’s residents before the plan is completed in early 2014.

 Please check back often for additional updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

 

 

 

Posted on December 11, 2012

Written by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

This excellent opinion column by Gene Dattel appeared in the New York Times recently about the Mississippi Delta:
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/opinion/sunday/beyond-black-and-white-in-the-mississippi-delta.html

 

Please check back often for additional updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

 
 

Posted on December 11, 2012

Written by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s planning process reached an important milestone on November 7, 2012 when almost 100 attendees attended the MDNHA  Exchange Regional Planning Forum at Delta State University in Cleveland. Participants represented a wide variety of interests including historic preservation, tourism, downtown revitalization, parks (state and national), museums, community development, education, arts, history/archives, business and events.

The National Trust’s consulting team facilitated discussions in partnership with members of the MDNHA board of directors. Group discussions were offered on seven topics with sessions repeated four times during the day. Each session included brainstorming ideas, discussing opportunities and identifying the role of the MDNHA related to the topic. 

Sessions topics included:

  • Culture and Living Traditions
  • Historic Preservation
  • Natural Resources
  • Interpretation and Education
  • Tourism Promotion
  • Visitor Services
  • Organization and Management

The MDNHA board will meet in January 2013 to consider the findings from the forum as we move into the next phase of developing the management plan which will guide the National Heritage Area for the next 10-15 years.

Please check back often for additional updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on October 16, 2012

Exchange invitationWritten by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

Ideas and strategies for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s management plan will take another step forward as a result of the Exchange: A Regional Planning Forum, which is set for November 7, 2012, at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.

“We named this event the ‘Exchange’ to emphasize that the national heritage area will only succeed through working together to preserve, commemorate, and share the Delta’s important stories,” said Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University and manager of the National Heritage Area.

A team lead by the National Trust is working with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area board and partners throughout the 18-county region to develop a management plan that will guide the heritage area’s work for the next 10-15 years.  

The planning forum will offer group discussion sessions that will contribute to strategies for the plan including historic preservation, natural resource conservation, interpretation and education, preserving living traditions, visitor services, tourism promotion, and organization/management. Each session will include brainstorming ideas, discussing opportunities, and identifying the role of the heritage area.

Please click here for more information on the event and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

Please check back often for additional updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

 

Posted on August 02, 2012

Written by Carolyn Brackett, Project Manager

I'm Carolyn Brackett, the National Trust's project manager for the team that is developing a management plan for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. I will be providing regular updates as work progresses over the next year.

Since our team began work in November 2011, we quickly learned that the Mississippi Delta embodies the American story in many ways, including the Civil Rights movement, the birthplace of the Blues, a turning point in the Civil War, the home of many famous authors, and many more stories and events that reflect our history.

It is the Mississippi Delta’s role in shaping our nation’s character and culture that earned the 18-county region Congressional designation as a National Heritage Area in 2009. Following this designation, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Partnership was formed. Once designated, all National Heritage Areas are required to develop a management plan. In 2011, the National Trust was selected to lead a consultant team to work with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Partnership to develop that plan.

Since November 2011, our team has been learning about the Mississippi Delta’s history, visiting historic and cultural sites, and – most importantly – talking with people throughout the region about what they would like the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area to do to help preserve, celebrate, and share the region’s unique heritage and culture.

An important step in our outreach was to hold three public meetings on this May in Vicksburg, Greenville, and Clarksdale. Attendance was excellent – some 180 people came to learn more about the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and to share their ideas on the future of the Delta. The Vicksburg meeting was also the setting for an announcement of the Mississippi Delta’s designation as a National Treasure.

Plans are under way for our next public outreach event on November 7 – the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Exchange. More information will be coming soon on this exciting event.

Please check back often for additional updates on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

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Anonymous on November 05, 2012
The Delta is home. When you drive through those cotton fields listening to the blues, nothing can beat it. I lived and worked in the Delta for two years and came to love the people and the culture. The country seems to have forgotten about the cultural importance of the Delta. With the designation of the Delta as a Natinoal Heritage Area I hope that people will once again see the importance of this part of our country and take the opporunity to visit. The B.B. King museum, Club Ebony, Ground Zero in Clarksdale, and the blues trail sites throughout the Delta create a sense of the regions heritage. I feel truly lucky to have lived there. I lived in a antebellum home on the Yazoo River in Yazoo City and the magnificent buildings in that town were just amazing.
Joe McGill, Charleston, SC on August 02, 2012
From the Civil War siege of Vicksburg to Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hammer proclaiming “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” reflections of America’s most important stories can be found in the Mississippi Delta. Not only pivotal historical events but - as the birthplace of Jim Henson, Robert Johnson and B.B. King and many other musicians, writers and performers - the Mississippi Delta has also contributed immensely to global entertainment.
Luther Brown, Cleveland, MS on August 02, 2012
My wife, Bonnie, and I moved to the Mississippi Delta over twelve years ago. And what we found were polite and welcoming people, great food, small town friendliness and a true sense of being home. The Mississippi Delta is a place of paradox. It has produced wealth for some and lives of hardship for many. It has birthed great writers but still has high illiteracy. It experienced Jim Crow oppression, share-cropping, and lynching, yet produce the Blues and also Rock'n'Roll. It once disenfranchised its black majority but today has one of the highest proportions of African American elected officials in the country. The Delta is simultaneously unique and essentially American, a really fascinating place.

Campaign Overview

Threat:
Lack of Funding Neglect

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