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.

Registration Still Open, Group Hotel Deadline is May 12 for Delta Event on May 26-27

Posted on May 07, 2015 at 02:04 PM

Registration is still open for the May 26-27 Delta conference, with 112 RSVPs and growing. The group hotel deadline is next Tuesday, May 12 and that information is below.

The key themes are economic equality for working families, women and children’s issues, and civil rights in the aftermath of Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, and other situations across the country.

We have confirmations from US Sen. John Boozman, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, US Rep. Rick Crawford, US Rep. Bruce Westerman, Arkansas Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam, nationally recognized hunger and nutrition expert Joel Berg, former White House aide and author Janis Kearney, former Associate Director of FEMA and author Kay Goss, and many other distinguished speakers from all eight states of the region.

Missouri speaker regarding the Ferguson, Missouri situation: Civil rights and diversity are crucial for our group, and with the recent tragic shootings of young African Americans and demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, New York and elsewhere, now moreso than ever. We are glad to have an African American woman leader from Missouri, Maida Coleman, who is Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s Director of the Office of Community Engagement, which works on improving race relations and other community intiatives in Ferguson, Missouri and across the state.

We have invited President Clinton, who has spoken seven out of the last eight years either by a live call-in or in person. He confirms very late in the process due to his hectic schedule. The live call-in is the likely format this year, and he has given brilliant presentations every time previously.

We are glad to have Rex Nelson, President, Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities, journalist, and former senior aide to Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, as well as Delta Caucus Vice Chairman, Rep. Mark McElroy.

Registration still open: For those who only recently learned of this event or did not know about the May 1 early registration deadline, we will still ask only for the early registration fee of $125 (or $100 for those who have paid their annual dues for 2015) rather than the higher late fees, which we request to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

For those who have been working on finalizing a group to register, we offer a discount to $75 each.

For those who notified us that they were definitely coming to the event by email at or phone at 202-360-6347 and are in the process of mailing the fees in now, we will also only ask for the early registration fee level of $125. Otherwise, late fees are $150 each.

You register by mailing in the registration fees.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” for $125 or $100 for those who have paid their annual membership dues for 2015 and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601


We have a group discount rate of $99.99 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, which is 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 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 not have cars. The opening session is an important substantive session with key speakers and is NOT a reception. The opening session is an important substantive session with key speakers and is NOT just a reception. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the hotel to the Capitol and then another five minutes to walk 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.


The opening session is on Tuesday, May 26 at the Arkansas State Capitol (old Supreme Court room) from 4 p.m. to approximately 7:45 p.m.

Then on Wednesday, May 27 we meet for most of the day at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We will have distinguished speakers on health care, nutrition, women and children’s issues, economic equality, and civil rights and diversity in the aftermath of the tragedies in Ferguson, Missouri and many other cities across the region and the country.


  4. CURRENTLY PENDING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES—Transportation, broadband access expansion and infrastructure improvements, Delta heritage tourism, opening up farm trade to Cuba


In addressing economic equality and opportunity for working families, health care and nutrition are absolutely essential. We have far too many hard-working people who are struggling just to get enough nutritious, affordable food and to get decent health care.

We are glad to have nationally recognized hunger and nutrition expert Joel Berg, a Presidential appointee at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC and now executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

Joel Berg has a longstanding commitment to the Delta region and has supported many projects in the region over the years and provided invaluable advice and information about SNAP, school meals and other nutrition programs over the years to the Delta Caucus’ executive director.

Nutrition programs as always will be a key issue at this conference and a number of our speakers will address such issues as the disturbing proposals to cut SNAP and other vital nutrition programs in Congress. Unfortunately many areas in our region suffer from among the nation’s highest rates of food insecurity and nutrition-related health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Improving nutrition in our region is one of the most dynamic means of preventive, proactive action in the field of health.

We support efforts in Arkansas and the other seven states to expand health insurance coverage for lower income working families.

We support the continuation of Arkansas’ innovative plan that has provided health insurance to approximately a quarter of a million Arkansans. Although we recognize that changes and improvements in the plan will be made by the Governor and legislature by the end of 2016, but the great majority of our partners believe it would be devastating if the program is abolished.

We supported the action of Gov. Hutchinson and the legislature in continuing the funding for health insurance coverage expansion through 2015 and until December, 2016. A task force is working on revisions and proposed improvements and changes to the program, and we want to continue scrutinizing and weighing in on this vital issue.

We will have Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association, and Rich Huddleston, Director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, to discuss health insurance expansion in Arkansas.

Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives Jeremy Gillam will speak at the opening session.

Shiloh Dietz of Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will discuss similar issues for the state of Illinois for their health insurance expansion program, as well as the health impact on women and children.

We will have a speaker from the Mississippi Common Health Action organization, which does important work on health care issues in Mississippi and is part of a national network working on that set of issues.


Women and children’s issues will be a major issue due to the alarmingly high poverty levels of those two major groups in the population. We will have many distinguished women leaders as well as men who understand the importance of improving economic opportunities for women, children and young people.

We have a distinguished group of professional women on the program, including:

Distinguished women leaders who are key leaders include our Delta Grassroots Caucus senior advisers Kay Goss, FEMA Associate Director for President Clinton and an Ambassador for the Clinton Foundation, and Janis Kearney, distinguished author and White House aide for President Clinton as well as the following leaders:

• Annette Dove, Executive Director of the TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, earlier featured in an NBC news report by Chelsea Clinton, and speaker at the Clinton Library 10th anniversary women’s event;

• Maida Coleman, Missouri Director of the Office of Community Engagement for Gov. Jay Nixon, who works on improving race relations in Ferguson, Missouri and other community initiatives in Missouri;

• Minnie Bommer, the first African American woman elected to the Covington, Tennessee City Council;

• Lynnette Watts, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, who has worked closely with the No Ceilings initiative and spoke at the Clinton Library 10th anniversary on women’ issues;

• President Terri Lynn Freeman, President of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, speaking on racial justice issues in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri and New York City;

• Millie Atkins of CenturyLink, leader of a program for expanding broadband access in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas;

• Ruthanne Hill, Executive Director, Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, helping single parents with educational goals;

• Leaders from Selma, Lowndes County, and the Alabama Black Belt who are deeply concerned about both ethnic and gender equality and economic justice;

• Maisie Wright, Director, KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School;

• Shiloh Dietz, Southern Illinois University, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, working on health care, woman and children’s issues and disaster relief.

We also have several other invitations pending to our many distinguished professional women in the Greater Delta Region.


In the aftermath of the tragedies of Ferguson, Missouri, there is deep concern about racial tensions. Our region includes the Alabama Black Belt, Mississippi, Louisiana, Memphis, Arkansas, Missouri and many areas that played a historic role in the civil rights movement.

Our partners are disturbed by the violence and injustice, and we want to have a dialogue about what can be done to improve race relations and build on the gains of the civil rights movement. We are hearing from many of our colleagues across the region about the need to renew our focus on civil rights and racial justice.

Janis Kearney, the White House aide mentioned above who is the author of a book on the famous civil rights leader Daisy Bates, who led efforts to desegregate schools before, during and after the Little Rock Central High School, and others are especially well qualified to give us perspective on the legacy of the civil rights movement.


Job creation and retention is related to all of the major themes of this conference. We will cover a range of economic development initiatives related to job creation and sustainable development and we want to call attention to three initiatives that are currently pending in Congress and/or at the state and private sector levels:

• Transportation, broadband access expansion and other infrastructure improvements to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure. We are glad to have Wilson Golden, Presidential appointee at the US Dept. of Transportation under Secretary Rodney Slater during the Clinton administration on the program.

• Farm trade to Cuba: We support opening up farm trade to Cuba, which before the failed embargo policy was a major market for rice, poultry and other Delta products. We support Sen. John Boozman’s bipartisan bill to allow private banks and companies to extend credits for agricultural exports to Cuba, which will be crucial because the current embargo requires cash payments for such transactions.

The Delta has major transportation advantages as opposed to Vietnam and other current sources of rice for Cuba. The embargo has failed to do anything the authoritarian regime in Cuba, and has only harmed producers in the USA and restricted access to food for people in Cuba. Exposing Cuba to the benefits of the free enterprise system is in fact one of the best ways to undermine authoritarianism.

• Delta heritage tourism, including the Delta Queen bill: We support the many promising initiatives to generate tourist dollars and educate the public about the great legacy of our region through Delta heritage tourism. A bill to allow the historic steamboat to once again travel the Mississippi, Arkansas, and Ohio rivers has been introduced in the House and Senate. In the last session a similar bill passed the House by a huge margin but the session ended before it could be brought to a vote in the Senate.

The riverboat was recently bought by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, which plans to return the boat to traveling in contrast to its status as a floating hotel docked in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the past five years. The new owners have brought the boat to New Orleans for the refurbishing and renovations needed to get the boat ready to travel again.

The Delta Queen has an excellent safety record, generates tourist dollars in many stops in the Greater Delta Region, educates people about our region’s great legacy of steamboating, strengthens appreciation for preserving the natural beauty of our region when travelers see the landscape and wildlife firsthand, will create about 200 jobs when it resumes traveling, and is endorsed by the Seafarers International Union, the American Maritime Officers and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.