CLEVELAND — National parks, historic homes, websites, songs, oral histories and more can be discovered on the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN), which welcomed 10 new resources recently.
Among those 10 new resources added to the network is the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA). The MDNHA is managed by The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. The AACRN website is available at www.nps.gov/subjects/civilrights/african-american-civil-rights-network.
The AACRN makes connections across public and private organizations to honor and preserve the people and stories of the civil rights movement and educate the public about its diverse and complex stories.
“The African American Civil Rights Network is a unique preservation program that brings together both tangible and intangible resources to tell a more complete narrative of the Civil Rights Movement in America,” said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “We welcome and encourage prospective members to submit applications to join this growing network of culturally significant resources.”
The AACRN website highlights several of the MDNHA’s Civil Rights heritage assets, including the Unita Blackwell Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker in Mayersville, and Delta State’s 1969 Sit-In oral history and documentary film project which won the Mississippi Historical Society’s 2020 Excellence in History Award.
The AACRN website also references the MDNHA’s Civil Rights Heritage Archive. The Delta Center launched the archive recently in collaboration with the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Park Campaign. The archive is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com/civil-rights. Information about the park campaign is available at www.tillnationalpark.org.
This digital resource illustrates diverse ways that the MDNHA has collaborated with national entities and Mississippi Delta-based organizations to interpret, preserve, and commemorate Civil Rights heritage in the region. The archive was developed as an online resource for Mississippi Delta residents, visitors, and researchers to explore during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“This is a significant national recognition that puts the Mississippi Delta region on the Civil Rights heritage development radar in a major way,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and executive director of the MDNHA. “Civil Rights heritage is the next tourism wave, particularly across the South. This recognition stands to benefit several of our Mississippi Delta communities in the long run.”
The National Park Service accepts applications on a rolling basis from individuals and organizations associated with the African American Civil Rights Movement. Details about the application and review process are available on the AACRN website.
The African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 authorizes the National Park Service to coordinate and facilitate Federal and non-Federal activities to commemorate, honor and interpret “…the history of the African American Civil Rights movement; the significance of the civil rights movement as a crucial element in the evolution of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the relevance of the American Civil Rights movement in fostering the spirit of social justice and national reconciliation.”
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 for Culture and Learning 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 K-12 educators. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.