The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Please Register for Jan. 30-31, 2008 Delta Caucus conference

Posted on October 04, 2007 at 02:35 AM

“Please Reserve Space for Jan. 30-31, 2008 Delta Conference; Heavy Turnout Expected to Hear Presidential Candidates, Gov. Beebe, & Grassroots Leaders”

It is already looking like the Jan. 30-31, 2008 annual Delta Caucus conference in Arkansas will draw a heavy turnout due to interest in the forums for Presidential candidates as well as participation of Gov. Mike Beebe and many grassroots leaders from across the region. These events have been increasingly crowded in recent years, and we have to assign the limited space on a first come, first served basis, so if you want to be sure of a place please register by sending in the registration fee, according to the information below.

Gov. Mike Beebe, two nonpartisan forums from the Presidential candidates–one for Republicans and one for Democrats–and presentations of grassroots leaders from across the region will be featured at the January 30-31, 2008 Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Delta Caucus will not make any endorsement of any Presidential candidates, but we want all of them to engage in a national dialogue about what they would do to promote economic development in the eight-state, 240-county Delta region of over nine million people if they are elected President.

The timing of our conference will be excellent as far as getting the attention of the Presidential contenders, because we will be right after the first wave of primaries and caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire and the earliest states, but several days before the major wave of primaries in early February–with no less than six of the Delta states having primaries in early February–Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, and Illinois on Feb. 5, and Louisiana on Feb. 9. Most of the candidates have expressed interest in being able to hit an event reaching six states at one time.

We have invited and plan to include either the candidates or spokespersons of the major campaigns, with one forum for Republican candidates including Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR), Sen. Fred Thompson (TN), Mayor Rudy Giuliani NY), Gov. Mitt Romney, (Mass.), and Sen. John McCain (AZ). We plan to include either the candidates or spokespersons for the Democratic campaigns in a separate forum including Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Sen. Barack Obama (IL), and Sen. John Edwards (NC). All speakers will be asked to state in positive terms what their plans are for the Delta, and no partisan comments will be allowed.

Four candidates have strong ties to the Delta region, including Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR), Sen. Fred Thompson (TN), Sen. Barack Obama (southern Illinois), and former First Lady of Arkansas Hillary Clinton. We have had good communication with these campaigns about the regional event in January in Arkansas, and also with Gov. Bill Richardson’s campaign, which is headed in Arkansas by former Sen. Kevin Smith of Helena-West Helena.

The opening session will be Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the main session will be at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008 from 9 a.m. to about 3:45 p.m.

Please visit our newly renovated website at

This conference will be on a Wednesday and a Thursday, as opposed to the Thursday-Friday timing in previous years. Hopefully this will lead to a larger crowd at the last session on Thursday afternoon.

The main sessions have been quite crowded the last two or three years, and our space is limited. We have to do this on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve a place, please send your registration fee check of $85, made out to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a note “For 2008 conference,” and mail the check to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

We will be fair to all campaigns, and commend those of Huckabee, Thompson, Obama, Clinton and Richardson for their good communication with us. In fairness to them, we also must point out that thus far we have had difficulty communicating with certain campaigns, including those of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. We trust this was just due to their campaigns being very busy and not being familiar with the Delta region. They received criticism for not attending events for African American organizations recently, and we don’t need to remind anybody that the Delta has a very large African American population and also a growing Hispanic population. The Delta is a diverse region, and we hope these candidates will devote due attention to impoverished and diverse populations. Anyone with any significant contacts with these campaigns is encouraged to contact us if they believe they can improve the communication. In fairness to them, Presidential campaigns tend to focus much more on the short term, and this event is still three months away.

We also unfortunately had no choice but to point out that Sen. John Edwards’ “poverty tour” to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas lasted only 16 minutes, and his communication with Mayor James Valley of that city consisted of a handshake and saying hello. We would ask the candidates to give real concern to the dilemma of poverty in the Delta and not use our people as photo ops. Sen. Edwards’ campaign alleges that the Senator does have a sincere concern for poverty in the Delta, and we hope that is true and that he will come back to the Delta and stay long enough to have a meaningful dialogue next time.

Other speakers on several panels during the two-day conference (in addition to Gov. Beebe and the Presidential contenders) will include:

  • The Hon. Rodney Slater, US Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton administration and now a partner at Patton & Boggs in Washington, DC
  • President Randy J. Dunn, Murray State University, western Kentucky
  • Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (from Jonesboro in east Arkansas)
  • President Les Wyatt, Arkansas State University
  • Janis Kearney, White House aide and author of books on the Delta region and President Clinton and African Americans
  • Mayor Michael Marshall, Sikeston, Missouri
  • The Hon. Bill Alexander, formerly Congressman from the east Arkansas Delta, now head of Alexander & Associates in Washington, DC
  • One of the graduate students from the Clinton School of Public Service on their activities in the Delta, as indicated by James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School
  • Joe Belden, Associate Director of the Housing Assistance Council based in Washington, DC, who will talk about housing issues;
  • Minnie Bommer, Chair, Rural West Tennessee African American Affairs Council RWT/AAC); rural west Tennessee partner for the Grassroots Delta Caucus; formerly board member of the Lower Mississippi Delta Center; Covington, Tennessee;
  • Tiffany Hardrick, Principal and Founder, Miller McCoy Academy for Mathematics and Business, New Orleans, Louisiana;
  • Mayor Bobby Hardrick, Madison, Arkansas.
  • Mayor Sheldon Day, Thomasville, Alabama
  • Rex Nelson, Alternate Federal Co-Chair of the Delta Regional Authority;
  • Representative of Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas
  • Donna Raynalds, Southern Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone, executive director, southern Illinois
  • Martha Ellen Black, Executive Director of Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie, Missouri, and the Missouri coordinator for the Delta Grassroots Caucus;
  • Larry Williams, director of the Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi;
  • Clifton Avant of Entergy, Baton Rouge, Louisiana;
  • Mayor Brad Cole of Carbondale, Illinois;
  • President Vivian Presley of Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Mississippi;
  • Patrick Powell, Director, Innovation and Commercialization Center, Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky;
  • Alan McVey, Arkansas State University, Executive Director of the Delta Center for Economic Development

We are just in the earliest stages of planning the agenda and will send more specifics about the various panels as we get closer to the time of the conference.

If the registration fee works a significant financial hardship on any individual or organization, please contact me and we will see what we can do to adjust it. We know there are many people and organizations in the Delta with very limited budgets.

We would like to thank organizations who have already made contributions at the sponsorship level in the last several weeks of more than $200.

We would also like to thank our lead sponsor in recent years, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, our major cosponsors, the Housing Assistance Council, Heifer International, Entergy, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship state organizations in the Delta and their headquarters based in Atlanta, Georgia, and G.A. Wildman of Alabama.

Thus far in the 2007-2008 season, we have received “major co-sponsorship” contributions of $1,000 to $2,000 from:

  • City of Sikeston, Missouri
  • Entergy
  • Inspire Hope Institute, nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty

Thus far in the 2007-2008 season, we have received “sponsorship” contributions of $200 to $350 from the following:

  • First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri
  • Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, East Prairie, Missouri
  • Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., southern Missouri
  • Writing our World Press, Jonesboro, Arkansas (headed by former White House aide and author Janis F. Kearney)
  • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship state organization of Mississippi
  • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship state organization of Arkansas
  • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Delta Citizens Alliance based in Greenville, Mississippi
  • Great River Economic Development Foundation, Blytheville, Arkansas
  • Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas
  • Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, Arkansas City, Arkansas
  • Chicot County Judge Fred Zieman, Lake Village, Arkansas
  • Municipal League of Arkansas
  • Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission

The City of Little Rock and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce have always worked with us very well and we look forward to working with them again in January, 2008.

Thanks very much and we look forward to an excellent conference on Jan. 30-31, 2008. Lee Powell, Executive Director, MDGC (202) 360-6347