Day 1: The River Creator and destroyer of the delta

The first day of the "Most Southern Place on Earth" workshop introduced participants to each other...

...and to the Delta itself, a region shaped by complex social and geographical forces.

In the opening session, workshop directors Lee Aylward and Dr. Rolando Herts of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning laid the logistical and intellectual foundation for the week. Lee outlined the history of the Delta, beginning with its status as the nation's inhospitable "last frontier" and touching on its role in the civil rights movement and the development of blues music. Meanwhile, Dr. Herts encouraged participants to see "place as text," specifically through an intersectional lens.

Participants then split into pairs and took turns introducing each other to the rest of the group. The workshop attracted educators from across the country with a range of interests and experiences.

Lunch at the Senator's Place gave participants their first true taste of soul food: grits, greens, and chicken, coupled with good conversation.

Share the Senator's Place experience with participant Laura Silver in the video below:

After lunch, the group watched LaLee's Kin, an Oscar-nominated film documenting poverty, race, and education from the perspective of one Delta family. The documentary also follows Reggie Barnes, superintendent of West Tallahatchie School District, as he attempts to give his students the best education possible. Following the screening, Reggie visited the workshop to discuss his experiences fighting for the schools and confronting cyclical poverty. As teachers, the participants connected personally to his anecdotes.

Everyone then boarded "the Traveling Classroom" to head to the Mississippi River. Lee narrated the journey, pointing out interesting sights and identifying roadside crops. The group also watched Fatal Flood, a documentary that tells the story of the Great Flood of 1927.

Some glimpsed the river for the first time; others saw it from a new perspective. Viewing the water from the levee break site gave participants a direct connection not only to the region's changing geography, but also to its human history. Dave Kies shares his impressions of the river in the video below:

After braving mosquito bites and sunburn, the group climbed back onto the bus and made brief stop at a Blues Trail marker, then continued on to dinner.

The evening concluded with a catfish dinner at Airport Grocery... well as a performance by Keith Johnson, the Delta Center's resident blues musician and great nephew of Muddy Waters.

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