Draft Heritage Study and Environmental
As in concept 5 the goal of this concept is to lay groundwork for the implementation of section 1104 of the Delta Initiatives legislation, which calls for recommendations for establishing an African-American Heritage Corridor and Cultural Center in the Delta.
By using a "hub-and-spoke" configuration to identify the stories and resources related to African-American heritage in the Delta, this configuration enables a comprehensive presentation of the people, events, and places important for understanding the evolution of the Delta’s African-American culture and communities. Major interpretive centers (museums, visitor centers, or community centers) would serve as hubs where visitors would be introduced to the broad spectrum of African-American life in the Delta and would then be directed to "spoke" sites — other museums, historic sites, and/or communities that would give an in-depth interpretation of one or more African-American stories found in the Delta.
Any study of the cultural heritage of the Lower Mississippi Delta must include a study of the history of the region’s African-American citizens. Brought to the Delta in slavery, forced to work in bondage and servitude throughout the antebellum years, and freed only with the catastrophe of the Civil War. African-Americans form the very fiber of the social and political tapestry of the Delta. Their lives, as enslaved people, free people of color, entrepreneurs, inventors, and men and women of science, victims of Jim Crow and the KKK, leaders and travelers on the Underground Railroad, Civil Rights activists who gave their lives for the cause, sharecroppers and landowners, farmers and business people, the poor in a wealthy land — all these stories and more are the stories of the lives of African-Americans in the Delta.
To commemorate the lives and achievements of African-Americans in the Delta, this concept addresses the need to put in place a series of resource sites that directly reflect the important lives and events in African-American history in the Delta. An African-American Heritage Corridor reaching from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, Illinois, in the north to New Orleans, Louisiana, near the mouth of the river in the south could begin to give visitors an understanding of the complexity of the social interactions, political struggles, and rich cultural legacy that touches all aspects of Delta life.
Map (PDF file)
A variety of cultural and natural resources would be used to implement this concept. National historic landmarks, historic districts, rural community centers, museums, and historic sites would all be considered important for preserving, protecting, and presenting African-American heritage in the Delta.
Criteria would be established for choosing the appropriate resources for the "hub" sites, in consultation with state and local preservation and African-American community groups. The criteria might include: significance/importance of the site/resource in African-American history; ability of the site/resource to convey multiple stories related to African-American life in the Delta; access to major transportation routes or along important historic migration routes related to African-American heritage; access to other "hub-and-spoke" sites/resources in the Delta; local community support to sustain a major interpretive center.
Further, more site specific planning would need to be accomplished to establish the criteria, identify sites and resources, and delineate the most appropriate configuration of the corridor. The work would be done in consultation with local African-American communities, businesses, and preservation groups resident in the Delta.
Draft Heritage Study and Environmental Assessment