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.

Newsletter on Oct. 23-24, 2012 Delta Conference in West Memphis

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 02:22 PM

We will have a total of 160 Delta grassroots leaders, Members of Congress, federal, regional, and state officials from the Mid-South region at the Delta Grassroots Caucus conference on Oct. 23-24 at Mid-South Community College in West Memphis.


Key speakers include Sen. John Boozman (AR), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN), Rep. Mike Ross (AR), Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (AR), Mayor A. C. Wharton, Jr. of Memphis (TN), Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, Prosecutor and Congressional candidate Scott Ellington, Rep. Rick Crawford (invited), President Glen Fenter of Mid-South Community College, President Shirley Raines of the University of Memphis, President Beverly Robertson of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Bob Nash (former senior White House aide and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, now senior adviser to Jamie Lee Witt & Associates, Joe Quinn, a senior executive at Wal-Mart and other regional leaders at the Delta conference.

If you have any questions please call Desha County Judge Mark McElroy at (870) 222-8440 or Martha Ellen Black at (573) 683-0783.

JOB CREATION/ECONOMIC RECOVERY: The main focus is on job creation/economic recovery. For the first time ever we are meeting in the heart of the Delta in West Memphis, because we did not want to ask financially strapped partners to make an expensive trip to Washington in the fifth year of a weak economy, and the gridlock is so bad in Washington, DC right now that it was not a productive time for a dialogue in any event.

STAND UP FOR DIVERSITY AND PROGRESSIVE RACE RELATIONS: In addition, we want to speak out about the great progress we have made in Arkansas and the Delta as a whole in civil rights and race relations, even as we realize that we still have a small minority of extremists. We have still come a long way in the right direction since the civil rights movement.

In this newsletter we include:

Quick Summary of the Conference

Basic Schedule

Registration and Late Registration at the front desk during the conference

Group Hotel–West Memphis Holiday Inn

Latest Draft of Agenda (there may be a few last-minute revisions)

Appreciation for Sponsors

MID-SOUTH LEADERS’ VIEWS ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: For one section of the program from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Oct. 24, we will hear from Mid-South leaders about their respective views on why either President Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Romney would be a better choice to improve the economy in the Greater Delta Region from St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illlinois to New Orleans, Louisiana and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt.

Mayor Carl Redus of Pine Bluff, a prominent Delta leader and mayor of the largest east Arkansas Delta city, will express his views in favor of Obama and State Senator Missy Irvin, a rising star among Arkansas Republicans who represents a district including much of northeast Arkansas, will express her views in favor of Romney.

Questioners will be Lee Powell, executive director of the Delta Caucus and a former Clinton administration Presidential appointee, and Rex Nelson, president of Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and a former senior aide to former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee. Time-keeper will be Desha County Judge Mark McElroy. This will be 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Oct. 24.

We will have a dialogue with federal, state and regional leaders in urging them to do more for the economic progress for our region. Political leaders from both parties will be given equal opportunities to express their views about how to create jobs and promote economic development as we participate in the democratic political process in this election season.


MEET JUDGE MARK MCELROY, 3:45 to 4:15 P.M, Tuesday, Oct. 23. Informal gathering at West Memphis Holiday Inn bar and lobby, led by the Hon. Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, (doing his famous Elvis Presley impersonation) before going to Mid-South Community College at 4:15 p.m.

4:15 p.m. Bus will take 30 people at a time to Mid-South Community College’s, but please note–most people will go over in their own cars

OPENING SESSION: Tuesday evening, Oct. 23, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Marion Berry Renewable Energy Center, Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas.

MAIN SESSION: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mid-South Community College, Marion Berry Renewable Energy Center.


You can register today by sending in the $100 registration fees for each individual. We will also receive late registrations at the front desk, which are normally $150 because it causes complications for us to have to receive registrations as the event is taking place.

Please make out the check today to “Delta Caucus” and mail to our office in the Washington, DC area:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, Maryland 20601


The group hotel is the West Memphis Holiday Inn & Convention Center. To get the group rate of $109 for Tuesday evening, Oct. 23, please call the hotel at (870) 735-4055 and make your reservation as part of the Delta Caucus bloc by Oct. 9–we understand there are still rooms available, and even if our bloc of rooms runs out, there are others available and there is not a great deal of difference between our group rate and the regular rate.

There are also some rooms available for Oct. 24 if people want to stay that night as well.


We are sending directions to Mid-South Community College’s Marion Berry Renewable Energy Center. People coming from all directions will need to get on Interstate 40.

The group hotel, West Memphis Holiday Inn & Convention Center, is easily visible along Interstate 40 in West Memphis.

From the West Memphis Holiday Inn:

Left on Ingram Blvd. Cross over I-40. Turn left at stop sign. Merge right onto Service Road. Merge left onto I-40. Exit 275 College Blvd. Turn left at end of ramp. Marion Berry Center is located on your left just after Tildon Rodgers Park.

From Memphis on I-40 going west:

Cross into Arkansas on I-40 Bridge. Travel west bound remaining on I-40. Exit 275 College Blvd. Turn left at end of ramp. Marion Berry Center is located on your left just after Tildon Rodgers Park.

Traveling east on I-40:

Go on I-40 to Exit 275 College Blvd. Right at the end of the ramp. Marion Berry Center is on the left just after Tildon Rodgers Park.

Delta Grassroots Caucus


Annual Fall Delta Conference

Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas,

Oct. 23-24, 2012

Conference Co-Chairmen: Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus; and Clifton Avant of Marion, Arkansas, President, AvanTech Services and Delta Caucus board member

Delta Heritage Tourism Tables

We encourage you to pick up information about these distinguished examples of Delta Heritage Tourism, which brings tourist dollars into the region while educating people about the rich legacy of the Delta:

· Dyess Colony Project and other east Arkansas Delta heritage sites, Ruth Hawkins, Arkansas State University Heritage Sites Director

· New Madrid, Missouri, Don Lloyd, highlighting the New Madrid earthquake, Civil War sites, river walks

· Delta Heritage Tours, Munnie Jordan, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas; highlighting the King Biscuit Blues Festival, American Queen and steamboating on the Mississippi River; the Delta Gospel choir

· Upper Town Heritage Foundation, Paducah, Kentucky, highlighting the Hotel Metropolitan, African American history, jazz and blues in western Kentucky

MEET JUDGE MARK MCELROY, 3:45 to 4:15 P.M, Tuesday, Oct. 23. Informal gathering at West Memphis Holiday Inn bar and lobby, led by the Hon. Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, before going to Mid-South Community College at 4:15 p.m.

4:15 p.m. Bus will take 30 people at a time to Mid-South Community College’s, but please note–most people will go over in their own cars

OPENING SESSION: Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. to 7:50 p.m., Marion Berry Renewable Energy Center, Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas

4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Reception hosted by President Fenter of Mid-South Community College

4:50 p.m.–Welcome from President Fenter, Mid-South Community College

Lee Powell, Introduction, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus, Inc.

5:15 p.m.–Shelley Ritter, Executive Director, Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi

5:25 p.m.–Beverly Robertson, President, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee

5:35 o 5:45-Rex Nelson, President, Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities, formerly Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority

5:45 to 5:55-Joe Quinn, Wal-Mart, Senior Director, Issue Management and Strategic Outreach

5:55 to 6:05 p.m..–Delta Regional Authority Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall of Sikeston, Missouri, introduced by Steve Jones, Deputy Director of Arkansas Dept. of Human Services and DRA Designee and Alternate for Arkansas

6:05 p.m. to 6: 35 p.m. US Representative Mike Ross, Fourth District, Arkansas (Introduced by Speaker Robert Moore of the Arkansas House of Representatives)

6:35 to 6:40 p.m.–Robert McMillan, Regional Manager, Siemens Energy & Environmental Solutions, South Region; Energy Performancing Contracting and other Energy Programs in the Delta

6:40 to 7:50 p.m.–Nutrition, Small Farmers and Small Business Panel

  1. Tamidra Marable, Heifer International, Program Manager, United States Program; works with Senchel Matthews, Arkansas Project Manager, on Heifer’s east Arkansas Delta project

  2. Mildred Barnes Griggs, former Dean of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Education; consultant to Arkansas East Enterprise Community and USDA “Seeds of Change” project in east Arkansas, and a family farmer in Lee County, Arkansas

  3. Melissa Rice McGowan, Feeding America Southeast Missouri Food Bank, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

  4. Loretta Daniel, Murray State University, Director of Regional Business and Innovation Center, western Kentucky

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, 2012, 8:45 A.M. to 3:30 P.M., Marion Berry Renewable Energy Center, Mid-South Community College, West Memphis

8:30 a.m. to to 10 a.m.–Big Picture Panel on Regional Community and Economic Development

  1. Sunny Morris, Speaker and Moderator, Senior Adviser for Special Programs, Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas

  2. Albert Nylander, Ole Miss, Director, McLean Institute for Partnerships and Community Engagement, and Professor of Sociology, the University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

  3. Srikant Gir, University of Memphis, Co-Director for the Center for Biofuels, Energy and Sustainable Technologies

  4. Steve Bares, President and Executive Director, Memphis Bioworks Foundation

  5. Gregory Hall, Senior Vice President, Technical Operations, FedEx Express, Tennessee

  6. Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel, Blytheville, Arkansas

10: a.m. to 11: a.m.–Debate–Mid-South Leaders’ Views on the Presidential Election

Rex Nelson and Lee Powell, Moderators

Mayor Carl Redus of Pine Bluff, Arkansas–stating his views as to why President Obama would be more helpful to our region’s economy if elected

State Sen. Missy Irvin, Mountain View–stating her views as to why Gov. Romney would be more helpful to our region’s economy if elected

SPEAKERS: 11 A.M. a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

US Representative Steve Cohen, Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor A. C. Wharton of Memphis, Tennessee

11:30 a.m. to noon.–Prosecutor Scott Ellington, Jonesboro, Arkansas, First District Congressional candidate

US Rep. Rick Crawford (AR)(Invited)

NOTE: We are trying to arrange a live audio call-in from Governor Mike Beebe at a time to be determined on Oct. 24. Gov. Beebe had to be elsewhere on Oct. 24 and could not be there in person.

Luncheon, Noon to 1:20 p.m.:

  1. President Glen Fenter, Mid-South Community College

  2. Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill

  3. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel of the State of Arkansas

Senator John Boozman, Arkansas, 1:30 to 1:50 p.m. (Introduced by Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama

President Shirley Raines, the University of Memphis, 1:50 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Panel : 1:50 p.m. to 3:10 p.m.–Best Practices in Community Development Issues for the Delta Region

  1. Bob Nash, Speaker and Moderator; senior adviser, Witt & Associates, Little Rock, Arkansas, former Director of Presidential Personnel for President Bill Clinton; former USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development

  2. Charita Johnson Burgess, Shiloh Distribution Center, west Tennessee

  3. Alan Gumbel, Director of Performance and Quality Improvement, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), Memphis, Tennessee

  4. Shannon Maxwell, Save the Children, Deputy Director for the state of Mississippi

  5. Karama Neal, Southern Bancorp, Arkansas

  6. Janice Simmons, Executive Director, Greater Northern Louisiana Community Development Corporation

  7. Emily Carter, Southern Illinois University, Director of Center for Regional and Economic Development, Carbondale, Illinois

Sponsors for Delta Grassroots Caucus, Oct. 23-24, 2012

Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas

Lead Sponsors

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas

Major Co-Sponsors

Siemens Industry, Inc.

Heifer International

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission

Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

McGehee Industrial Foundation


Southeast Missouri Delta Grassroots Partners

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy

Lincoln County Industrial Development Commission

The City of Earle, Arkansas

East Arkansas Enterprise Community

First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri

Grambling State University, Louisiana

Murray State University, western Kentucky

AvanTech Services, Marion, Arkansas

The City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas

BGACDC Agency, Marvell, Arkansas

Crossroads Coalition

Delta Grassroots Caucus Partners

Last but not least, we would like to thank the hundreds of people who made contributions in the range of $100, $50 or $25 in the form of annual membership dues, registration fees, and other contributions. For a grassroots regional coalition, we need to have a diversified, broad base of financial support from large numbers of relatively modest contributions. The large number of these contributions really adds up to a major part of our budget, and we could not do our work without these donations