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.

Delta Caucus Conference Set on May 26-27, 2015 in Little Rock--Save the Dates

Posted on December 30, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Please save the dates for the annual spring Delta Grassroots Caucus conference on May 26-27, 2015 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus hopes all our partners are having a good holiday season and we look forward to another constructive year of advocacy for the community and economic progress of our region in 2015.

Over the two day event next spring we will have a dialogue with federal and state “powers that be” as well as grassroots leaders from all eight states on a broad range of initiatives for the region’s community and economic development, including: Women and children’s issues and support for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings initiative, job creation and workforce development, the private option and other health care plans and other Delta states, a dialogue on race relations and civil rights, Delta heritage tourism, expanding trade to Cuba and other new markets, transportation, housing, and other infrastructure improvements.


  1. Basic Schedule

  2. Key Issues

  3. Conference registration fees

  4. Group hotel (Holiday Inn Presidential)

  5. Women and Children’s Issues

  6. A Partial List of Some of the Distinguished Women Leaders for the Delta Grassroots Caucus


Opening session: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 4 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., Arkansas State Capitol (the old Arkansas Supreme Court room)

Clinton Library session: Wednesday, May 27, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library.

We plan to invite President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton to do live presentations by Skype or audio connection, although of course if they are able to speak they will confirm much later in the process. We will be inviting Governor-Elect Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Congressional delegation, and distinguished grassroots leaders from all eight states from southern Illinois and Missouri, through western Kentucky and Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi down to New Orleans and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt.

2. Key issues will include:

Women and children’s issues in the context of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project for full participation of women and girls in the Delta and across the globe;

An in-depth dialogue about the full range of race relations and civil rights issues across our region in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri controversy, including but not limited to police issues;

The private option health care plan in Arkansas and other initiatives to increase access to health insurance in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Illinois (the other three states may consider new health care policies next year as well);

Job creation, education and workforce development, which are always at the forefront in working toward a brighter future for our region;

Expanding trade for the region, such as the opportunity for opening up trade to Cuba in the light of changing relationships with that country, especially for rice, poultry and other agricultural products that our region produces in abundance;

Investments in transportation, housing, broadband expansion and other infrastructure improvements;

Promotion of Delta heritage tourism, including what will be the last chance to save the historic steamboat, the Delta Queen in 2015 by passing legislation to allow the riverboat to resume her historic travels on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The delays in passing this highly meritorious bill have been particularly damaging and 2015 will be the last chance to save the Delta Queen.

3. Registration Fees for May 26-27, 2015 Delta Conference

Early registration fees are $125, which is $100 for conference registration fees and $25 for annual membership dues for 2015. Those who pay the annual membership dues for the year 2015 will receive a $25 discount for registering for our annual fall conference, which is held at different locations either in the Delta or in Washington, DC, depending on feedback we receive over the year as to the best location for that event.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

The early registration fee level ends on April 25, 2015; late registration fees go up to $150 each after April 25 to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

Annual dues are a minimum of $25, paid once each calendar year, although for medium-sized or larger banks, chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, corporations, foundations or those who want to donate more, suggested contributions are $50 or $100.

We are steadily placing more emphasis on collecting annual membership dues and we greatly appreciated all our partners who paid annual membership dues in 2014.

If you would like to pay for 2014 by sending a check by the deadline of Dec. 31, 2014 please do so.

The dues are paid once each calendar year and membership dues for the year 2015 begin on Jan. 1, 2015.

Delta Caucus corporate status: As we regularly note in the spirit of transparency, the Delta Grassroots Caucus, Inc. is incorporated as a regular corporation and not as a 501c3, because we occasionally take positions on public policy positions that in some quarters might be considered controversial, and while the majority of our activities are informational/educational, we also occasionally do some limited lobbying. 501c3 organizations have major restrictions on lobbying or engaging in activities that might be considered “politically controversial,” particularly pertaining to elections. The Delta Caucus places the highest priority on maximum freedom of expression.

All our budget comes from voluntary, private sector donations in the form of registration fees for the two regional conferences each spring and fall; annual membership dues once a year with a minimum requirement of $25, with the option of $50 or $100 for those who choose to give more; and a small number of highly valued sponsorships.


We have a group discount rate of $99.99 dollars for the nights of May 26-27, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Presidential near the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

Please call the Holiday Inn Presidential at 501-375-2100 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the lower group rate of $99.99–a very good rate for a high-quality hotel located near the Clinton Library and the River Market district, which has many fine restaurants and other attractions.

The deadline for getting the group rate is May 12.

Many people will only need to pay for one hotel night, because they check in Tuesday afternoon to make the opening at 4 p.m. at the State Capitol and the conference ends the next day at about 2:45 p.m. You can check out the next morning and store luggage at the hotel if necessary and pick it up in the afternoon after the conference ends.

We will need to go to the State Capitol in groups of taxis for those who are flying in and do not have cars. The opening session is an important substantive session with key speakers and is NOT a reception. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the hotel to the Capitol and then another five minutes to go up to the old Supreme Court room.

For the Clinton Library session, the hotel has a shuttle that regularly runs there.

The Holiday Inn Presidential has a very good restaurant, Camp David, on the first floor, and is close to the many fine restaurants in the Little Rock River Market area.

5. Women and Children’s Issues in the Eight-State, Greater Delta Region of Over 10 Million People

An emphasis on a broad range of women and children’s issues related to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings initiative for full participation of women and girls in the Delta and across the globe. The Greater Delta Region unfortunately has alarmingly high poverty rates for women and children so these issues are especially poignant for our region.

Secretary Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are providing great leadership on women and children’s initiatives in the USA and across the globe. See the information about the No Ceilings initiative on the Clinton Foundation website at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does great work in collaborating with the Clinton Foundation on the No Ceilings program.

While we appreciate the progress our country has made in reducing overall poverty rates in America by the War on Poverty over the last 60 years, we are also deeply concerned that women and children have not joined in this progress equally. While the overall poverty rate decreased from 26% in the mid-1960s to approximately 16% today (according to data from economists surveyed by the New York Times), nationwide single women suffer from a poverty rate of 30%, African American children suffer from a 40% poverty rate, and Hispanic children at 30%.

Single women and minority children poverty levels are much worse in the Delta: Even national rates are too high for these demographic groups, but even worse in the highly diverse Delta. The percentage of single mothers heading households is 34% higher in the Delta than nationally, and overall poverty in the Delta is 55% higher.

Key women and children’s issues from the standpoint of Delta Grassroots Caucus partners: We encourage our partners to send us regional data on women and children’s subjects. Among the issues that are especially important for women and children are:

WIC, school meals, and SNAP are all very important for women and children. WIC is underfunded, SNAP is under attack from critics who do not understand its tremendous importance. An alarmingly high percentage of people on SNAP are children-at least 40% and some estimates are more like 50%. Efforts to improve nutritional quality of school meals are under attack in some quarters.

Health care issues for women and children-clearly the private option in Arkansas is helpful for low-income women and children, and other initiatives in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Illinois are also constructive. The majority of our partners support those initiatives. We would like to hear about other top priorities for women and children’s health.

Early childhood development. In the Delta we have many children who start out way behind when they are five or six years old and they don’t catch up throughout their life times.

Equal pay for equal work for women. We hear some of our leaders say that they are absolutely for equal pay, but want to just leave it up to employers to do the right thing without any legislation backing it up. Women still make about three fourths of what men do, on average. The approach of leaving it strictly to the decision of employers would mean that some employers will never change their policies.

Minimum wage-many women work at minimum wages or jobs such as bartenders and waiters who depend on tips; a raise in the minimum wage is a very important issue in this context.

Encouraging more women in positions of small business ownership-we want to promote a dialogue on how this can be done.

Encouraging more leadership positions for women in corporations, foundations and elected office. At the 2014 conference at the Clinton Library all 10 of the major candidates for governor and Congress were men. We pointed out that disappointing fact from the podium. We need to include more women political leaders.

Women are much more vulnerable to assault. Many of our nonprofit organizations are involved in shelters for victims of domestic abuse, and we will have speakers at the conference with a great deal of expertise in this area.

Giving birth to healthier babies and reducing teen-age pregnancy: a recent front-page article in the Washington Post cite an “extraordinary” improvement in lower income women giving birth to healthier babies; among the reasons for the improvement were SNAP (food stamps), WIC (Women, Infants and Children nutrition program), greater nutrition education, declining rates of smoking, environmental regulations that reduce pollution, and in some areas policies that give authorities less discretion in deciding when to prosecute men accused of domestic violence. (“Among Poor Women, a Big Gain: Babies Are Healthier,” by Zachary Goldfarb, Washington Post, A1, July 21, 2014)

We’re concerned about all women, of course, and there are plenty of struggling white women in the region, but it’s also true that poverty for minority women is even worse. What can we do to address the special issues regarding minority women? This is not just African Americans, because we have a growing number of Hispanics in the region, as well as Asian Americans and Native Americans in some areas.

Education and workforce development are always crucial for all our folks. What are some special educational needs of women and children and what initiatives would we recommend-this of course is a huge subject and we need to come up with some specific and realistic recommendations.

6. A List of Some of the Distinguished Women Leaders for the Delta Grassroots Caucus

(This is a partial list and we are expanding it)

Kay Goss, Associate Director of FEMA for President Clinton, distinguished author, scholar and nationally recognized expert on emergency relief and other key public policy issues;

Janis Kearney, former White House aide for President Clinton, author of many books including a biography of the famous civil rights leader Daisy Bates, and founding publisher of Writing Our World Press;

Director Annette Dove of the TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, AR, which was featured by Chelsea Clinton in an excellent national NBC television report with Brian Williams that highlighted her work for nutrition, education, job training and other initiatives for lower income families in Pine Bluff, AR.

Lynette Watts, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas Executive Director, Little Rock, AR;

Charlie Cole Chaffin, former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate, educator and a keg leader for Gov. Bill Clinton’s educational reforms in Arkansas;

Beatrice Shelby, director of the Boys, Girls and Adults nonprofit organization in Phillips County, an excellent organization that has won national recognition for their work in the Delta;

Martha Ellen Black, director of the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center nonprofit in southeast Missouri, veteran Delta regional advocate, and former director of the Southeast Missouri Enterprise Community that worked closely with the Delta Regional Initiative during the Clinton administration;

Ruby Bright, executive director o f the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, a major philanthropic foundation funding initiatives for women and children in the Mid-South;

Minnie Bommer, first African American woman elected to the Covington, Tennessee City Council and veteran Delta regional advocate;

Charita Johnson, Chief Administrative Officer, Shiloh Distribution Center, based in Lexington, Tennessee;

Betty Dobson, director of a nonprofit in western Kentucky that highlights the famous Hotel Metropolitan, the only hotel in the area where African Americans could stay in the Jim Crow era and that hosted Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Ike and Tina Turner and civil rights leaders;

Mayor Thelma Collins, Itta Bena, Mississippi;

Vanessa Sneed, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois;

Jessica Vermilyea of New Orleans, Louisiana state director for Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, a leader in helping the recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill;

Millie Atkins of CenturyLink, an organization that promotes broadband expansion in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas Delta areas;

Blanche Hunt, Vice President of Community Relations at Arkansas Northeast College in Blytheville, AR, who has a doctorate and has an impressive track record in helping women and children in the Delta;

Anna Strong, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Executive Director for Child Advocacy and Public Health;

Renee Griffen-Moton, Mid-Delta Community Health Services, Helena-West Helena, Marianna and adjacent Arkansas Delta areas;

Mollie Palmer, Director, Together for Hope Cooperative Baptist Fellowship project based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas;

Katie Harrington, Director, Delta Cultural Center, based in Helena-West Helena and covering 27 counties;

Julia Malinowski, Director, Helena-West Helena Advertising & Promotion Commission;

Beverly Robertson, President, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee;

Gina Winchester and Loretta Daniel, Murray State University in western Kentucky.