By ROBERT LEE LONG, Community Editor
Desoto Times Tribune
HERNANDO — One of the poorest regions in America is also the richest, according to one of the region's foremost experts on the culture of the Mississippi Delta.
"Most of what is profoundly American and what people love most about America comes from the Mississippi Delta," said Dr. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State. Brown was the featured speaker Wednesday at the Hernando Rotary Club.
He cited the attribution from the National Park Service.
"The Mississippi Delta has a very unique heritage," Brown said, adding much of America's pioneering musicians like Muddy Waters and B.B. King came from the Mississippi Delta.
Brown, a former college professor at George Mason University, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Elmhurst College and a Masters and PhD from Ohio State University.
In 2000, Dr. Brown became the founding Director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, where he is also Associate Dean for Delta Regional Development.
He is also a founding member of the Mississippi Blues Commission, former Chairman of the Mississippi Blues Foundation, and an active participant in the growing Mississippi Blues Heritage Trail and the new Freedom Road civil rights trail.
Brown said there are 130 stops along the Mississippi Blues Trail, including several in DeSoto County.
"We've raised more than $2 million in grant money to promote the blues trail," Brown said.
Brown said the $15 million B.B. King Museum in Indianola attracts thousands of people each year from diverse places around the globe.
He said Mississippi continues to benefit from people drawn to the state because of its culture and role in American history, from battlefields, to blues ands civil rights.
The recent visit to Mississippi by Freedom Riders of the 1960s and images of the warm reception they received has helped to alter the state's past image as a bastion of racism.
Blues clubs like Ground Zero in Clarksdale and other traditional blues joints and honky tonics draw in tourists by the busloads.
"The future looks bright for business opportunities in the Mississippi Delta," Brown said.
Sat, June 4, 2011
by ROBERT LEE LONG