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.

Summary & Examples of Media Reports on May 26-27 Delta Conference in AR

Posted on June 08, 2015 at 01:35 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus conference in Little Rock featured presentations by President Bill Clinton, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Rick Crawford, Rep. Bruce Westerman;

–former Gov. Mike Beebe speaking for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, Communications Director Alice Stewart for Gov. Mike Huckabee for President;

–nationally recognized hunger and poverty expert Joel Berg from New York, and distinguished leaders from across the Greater Delta Region.

This is an in-depth report, so people will look over the Table of Contents and pick and choose which articles or sections attract their interest and scroll down to read the sections they are most interested in.

Table Of Contents


  2. MEDIA REPORTS: “Bill Clinton: Energy, Broadband, Would Help Delta,” by Steve Brawner, Talk Business

  3. “Delta Caucus Hears from governor, Presidential campaigns,” by Dale Ellis, Arkansas News Bureau

  4. “Boozman Praises Cuba Deal, Hutchinson Touts Rural Services in Speeches,” by Steve Brawner, Talk Business

  5. “Economic Development in the Delta To Be Addressed,” by David Monteith, KUAR Arkansas Public Radio

  6. “Cong. Crawford: Highway Bill Just Needs Funding,” by Steve Brawner, Talk Business

  7. “Cong. Westerman: Rural America Creates Country’s Wealth, by Steve Brawner, Talk Business

  8. Agenda - Speakers and Sponsors

There were a total of 106 people who came to at least parts of the conference.

We would like to thank in particular our many speakers on women and children’s issues, civil rights and race relations and health care, including former Clinton Presidential appointees Kay Goss and Janis Kearney, Maida Coleman, Missouri Director of the Office of Community Engagement that handles civil rights issues like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, and President Terri Freeman of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy for social, racial and economic justice.

Fall conference in Washington, DC of the National Grassroots Economic Equality Coalition, to have a dialogue with Members of Congress, Presidential campaigns and other powers that be about promoting economic justice and equality in the USA.

The largest populations who have historically not participated fully in America’s prosperity will be the focus, including the Greater Delta Region, Appalachia, the Southwest Border from Texas to California, economically distressed areas in Iowa and the Midwest, inner cities such as Washington, DC, Baltimore and New York, and other major economically distressed groups. Gender, racial and ethnic and geographical diversity are essential.

These populations are not only the most economically distressed in America, but collectively they make up a significant part of the national population.

With the gridlock still being a major problem for holding a conference in Washington, DC, we need to broaden the focus to all the major distressed populations rather than just the Greater Delta Region by itself. National officials will pay more attention when the focus is perceived by them as broad and not just solely one region.

The agenda with all of the speakers and sponsors is at the end of this post.

Special session passed promising incentives for south Arkansas job creation: A number of our partners were unable to be there because they had to attend a special session of the Arkansas legislature called by Gov. Asa Hutchinson only days before the conference; but the subject matter included passage of financial incentives for a job creation project that could bring 500 jobs to our region. Delta Caucus Vice Chairman was a sponsor of the bill and it was supported by Gov. Hutchinson and House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, who represents part of the Delta in White County. We were glad to support the bill, which passed.

Summary: For most of the job of summarizing the conference, we would like to rely on several examples of media reports. We think it’s more interesting to hear what journalists had to say as opposed to having Delta Caucus partners describe our own conference.

There were eight television news reports, coverage by Arkansas public radio KUAR in Little Rock and KUAF in Fayetteville, four reports by Talk Business & Politics, and reports by the Arkansas News Bureau and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Six examples of some of the media reports are in this newsletter, sent exactly as they were published.

1.Key initiatives that a clear majority of Delta Grassroots Caucus supports to Congress, the national executive branch, governors and state legislators, and local leaders include:

–Support for expansion of health insurance coverage for lower-income Deltans, noting the major expansions in Arkansas, Illinois and other states;

–Full funding for the Small Business Administration, USDA programs, the Export and Import Bank, the south Arkansas job creation project in Camden, and other initiatives for creating jobs, especially for small businesses as the most dynamic engine for jobs;

–Support for the New Markets Tax Credit, renewable energy and broadband access as stated so eloquently by President Clinton (article from Talk Business summarizes his presentation;

–Full funding for SNAP, WIC, school meals and other nutrition programs, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other major safety net programs addressing hunger, nutrition and poverty, especially for women, children and youths up to age 18 who suffer from poverty rates far above national averages in our region;

–Funding the federal highway bill, expansion of broadband access to permit Deltans to gain access to the information superhighway, and aid for home-ownership to repair our deteriorating infrastructure, promote sustainable economic development and create jobs;

–Opening up farm trade and other exports to Cuba to re-establish a formerly lucrative market for Delta rice, poultry and other products, and end the failed embargo that has done nothing to undermine the Castro regime-after 50 years of failure, it’s time for a change;

–Civil rights/racial and economic justice for all: Opposition to legislation restricting people’s right to vote, ending excessive sentences for non-violent crimes that amount to “mass incarceration,” more training for police to avoid profiling of African Americans and other minorities; and support for restricting police use of military equipment that promotes excessive use of force against demonstrators;

–Support for Delta heritage tourism, such as civil rights, Civil War, natural resources, and blues and jazz legacy, and support for the Delta Queen bill to get her traveling on the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers again.

Civil rights leaders: We were glad to have a presentation on race relations issues in Ferguson, Missouri from Maida Coleman, an African American leader who is the Missouri Director of the Office of Community Engagement who works on situations like those in Ferguson for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

We heard a dynamic presentation from President Terri Freeman of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis about the nonviolent philosophy for social, racial and economic justice and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Janis Kearney: Police profiling, sadly, can happen to anyone: We heard from author, publisher and former senior White House aide Janis Kearney on related subjects regarding civil rights, including a terrible episode of police racial profiling that she and her husband, Bob Nash, endured when they were both senior White House aides in the Clinton administration.

They were held in handcuffs, police brandished shotguns, they were not told why they had been stopped for a lengthy period, and they were stopped only because they are African Americans. There had been an African American suspect in a car-jacking in that area, but Mr. Nash did not resemble the description of the suspect.

They were only released after Bob Nash presented his credentials as White House Director of Presidential Personnel.

Joel Berg, nationally recognized hunger and poverty expert from New York was one of our main speakers on May 27 at the Clinton Library Great Hall: Joel Berg is one of the most astute and effective experts on hunger and poverty in America today. He is executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and a former Presidential appointee at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, and author of the best book on hunger in America: All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?

Joel Berg recently wrote a tremendously insightful article about hunger across the globe for the Huffington Post: “It’s About Power, Not Food: The True Causes of World Hunger,” May 27, 2015. In that article that can be found on the Huffington Post website, he points out that “In the U.S, our leaders also generally prioritize wealth creation for the richest, over-feeding our populace.

While the severity of the hunger in the U.S. is generally far less than in India, U.S. hunger is far worse than in any Western industrialized country, and fully 49 million Americans live in food insecure homes, unable to afford an adequate supply of food. Yet in 2013, the U.S. exported $144 billion worth of food, equaling $2,938 worth of food for every American struggling against hunger.”

Berg wrote that between 2002 and 2013, the combined net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans rose by 30% percent, while food insecurity rose by 34%. He cited the following disturbing data about economic inequality: “The net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans, according to Forbes, now tops two trillion dollars, which is more than four times the amount of the entire U.S. budget deficit. That’s right, 400 people have four times as much money as the entire federal shortfall for a nation of 314 million people.”

Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA, nationally recognized emergency relief services expert, author and educator led a group of distinguished women professionals at the conference in calling attention to the need for state, regional and federal powers that be to do more to reduce the alarmingly high levels of poverty for women and children, the need for equal pay for equal work for women, and other key issues involving full participation for women and girls in our society and economy.

We are always glad to hear from Ms. Maggie Steed/Ms. Betty Dobson from Paducah, Kentucky who portrays the founder of the historic Hotel Metropolitan, which hosted Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, civil rights leaders, and Ike and Tina Turner in the era of Jim Crow in the western Kentucky Delta-one among many examples of the power of Delta heritage tourism to generate tourism dollars in our region while educating the people about the Delta’s great legacy.

This hotel was founded over a century ago by Maggie Steed, and it is a historic site managed by Betty Dobson today, director of the nonprofit Upper Town Heritage Foundation.

The agenda is at the end of this newsletter and includes the speakers and sponsors.

Media reports

2.”Bill Clinton: Energy, Broadband Would Help Delta”


By Steve Brawner

May 27th, 2015


Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that alternative and more efficient energy, New Markets Tax Credit loans, and more broadband access would help areas along the Mississippi Delta enjoy more economic growth.

Clinton addressed by telephone the Delta Grassroots Caucus, a seven-state coalition of advocates and legislators meeting this week in Little Rock.

He said that jobs could be created in Arkansas and the Delta by concentrating on alternative forms of energy along with energy efficiency efforts. He touted the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Home Energy Affordability Loan program, where employers provide loans to employees to reduce their home energy use.

Also, he said the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers together had made a $10 million commitment to a Clinton Global Initiative to retrofit buildings to be more efficient. He said public pension funds as well as private funds could be invested in these kinds of programs.

Clinton also touted the New Markets Tax Credit Program, which provides federal tax credits to investors who invest in low-income communities. However, he said participation in the program has been too scattered and public awareness too limited. The tax credit expired at the end of last year but should be renewed this year, he said.

He said the United States should invest in expanded broadband networks. Instead, it’s happening community by community, where results have been good. He said that South Korea, “dirt poor” 50 years ago, is booming partly because it has the world’s fastest broadband with cheaper access costs than the United States.

Clinton expressed concern about the country’s growing economic inequality, adding that income grew at all levels during his presidency.

“The good news is, we can make better use of technology,” he said. “The ultimate question is whether (technology is) producing more productivity gains than employment opportunities, and we won’t know until we have the right policies in place what else we have to do.”

  • See more at:

Posted May 26, 2015 - 9:16pm

3.”Delta Caucus hears from governor, presidential campaigns”


By Dale Ellis Special to the Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK - On the same day that the special legislative session got underway, the Delta Grassroots Caucus held opening events Tuesday for its annual Delta Conference at the state Capitol.

The current governor, a former governor, and a spokeswoman for another former governor dominated the first-day agenda of the two-day conference.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the group that the main topic of the special session, his proposed $87.1 million bond issue to help Lockheed Martin’s Camden facility compete for a federal defense contract, will be a big boost for the Delta.

Hutchinson noted that if Lockheed Martin wins the contract, it will help the company retain its current workforce of more than 500 and add an additional 600 jobs.

“Plus, it’s a 25-year commitment on the part of Lockheed Martin to the state of Arkansas,” he said.

Former Gov. Mike Beebe spoke on behalf of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently made it official that she is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Beebe said the most critical problem facing the country right now is the widening gap between rich and poor, which he said threatens to undermine the social fabric of the nation, with much of the problem stemming from the 2008 financial collapse cause by the greed of a few big banks but resulted in lending restrictions that changed how community banks do business and resulted in putting capital out of reach of small business.

“Community banks didn’t create the problem,” said Beebe. “They were doing it right, but they got caught up in the fix. What Hillary wants to do is unshackle the community banks that weren’t doing anything wrong so they can once again provide the capital to grow small business.”

He said failure to address the economic gap and pursue policies that have proliferated since the 1980s will only make the problem worse.

“Let’s face it: That trickle-down crap doesn’t work,” he said.

Alice Stewart, spokesperson for former Gov. Mike Huckabee, said she first met Huckabee when she was a reporter in Little Rock, and said she was most impressed with the compassion he showed for others in their worst moments, referencing the relocation of many people from the New Orleans and southern Louisiana areas after Hurricane Katrina, and especially in the aftermath of the school shooting at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro in 1998.

“He took the families into a room, away from the media, and he sat down with them, talked with them, prayed with them, and told them, ‘We’re going to do everything we can,’” Stewart told the group.

Stewart worked with Huckabee during his 2008 presidential campaign, serving as his national press aide and spokesperson. She also worked for Michele Bachmann in the same capacity during the former Minnesota Congresswoman’s 2012 bid for the Republican nomination.

The conference continues Wednesday at the Clinton Presidential Library with panel discussions on gender and racial equality and justice, best practices in economic development, and several schedule speakers, including Bill Clinton in a live call-in.

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4.”Boozman Praises Cuba Deal, Hutchinson Touts Rural Services In Speeches”


By Steve Brawner May 26th, 2015


Improving relationships with Cuba will help that country and Arkansas, Sen. John Boozman said Tuesday, while Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that merging the Arkansas Department of Rural Services into the Arkansas Economic Development Commission will help it better serve rural communities.

The two men were part of a lineup of speakers Tuesday addressing the Delta Grassroots Caucus, a seven-state coalition of advocates and legislators meeting this week in Little Rock. Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to address the group Wednesday.

Boozman said that Tom Osborne, who served with him in the U.S. House of Representatives and earlier coached the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football team, had told him that when he ran the same play repeatedly without success, it was time to try something different.

“I’m a guy that really feels like the way that you change people is through personal relationships,” Boozman said. “What we’ve been doing … hasn’t worked.”

He said better relations with Cuba would open an important market for Arkansas and would improve the lives of Cubans. He said the United States has trade relations with countries with worse human rights records, including Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Vietnam.

Boozman last week along with the rest of the Senate voted to give the president trade promotion authority, a six-year ability to negotiate trade deals that are subject to an up-or-down vote by Congress. If the House approves the authority, the focus will shift to the Trans Pacific Partnership, which would involve the United States and 11 other Pacific ountries. Boozman said he did not know if he supported that deal because it hasn’t been completed.

“We want a deal that’s not free trade but fair trade. We want a deal that’s good for both sides,” he said.

In his speech, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his proposal to merge the Department of Rural Services into the Arkansas Economic Development Commission would end the department’s isolation.

“I think it elevates them and sends a signal that economic development is important not just in urban Arkansas, but it is important in every area of the state, and Rural Services will be a part of that,” he said.

He said the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, for which Arkansas legislators are meeting to approve an incentive package for potential manufacturer Lockheed Martin, will lead to jobs and provide money to Southern Arkansas University Technical College for equipment and job training.

Former Gov. Mike Beebe spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, while Alice Stewart, former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s communications director, spoke on behalf of his candidacy.

5.”Economic Development In The Delta To Be Addressed”


By David Monteith

May 25, 2015

The two-day Delta conference on economic equality for working families begins Tuesday in Little Rock.

The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus, an advocacy group promoting economic development in the impoverished region will host the conference. Topics being discussed will include women and children in poverty and race relations, but the overall focus is economic equality.

Former Governor Mike Beebe will speak as a representative for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee’s communications director Alice Stewart will also speak. Former President Bill Clinton and Governor Asa Hutchinson will also address the group, along with members of the state’s congressional delegation.

Current opportunities in the region will be discussed, including a proposal being considered this week during a special session of the Arkansas Legislature, called by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“We would certainly like to support Governor Hutchinson’s south Arkansas jobs project because it would be great to bring 500 jobs to south Arkansas,” said Lee Powell, Executive Director of MDGC.

Several pieces of pending federal legislation will be addressed, including opening up farm trade to Cuba, federal highway funding, and the Delta Queen Steamboat bill. Healthcare will remain a key issue.

“We want to continue to urge the governor and the legislature to extend the health insurance coverage expansion, which led a quarter of a million Arkansans to gain health insurance for the first time,” said Powell.

The Delta Queen bill is one of several pieces of legislation to be discussed at the Delta conference on economic equality for working families.

6.”Cong. Crawford: Highway Bill Just Needs Funding”


By Steve Brawner May 27th, 2015


A new version of the 2012 federal highway authorization law quickly could be passed with few changes out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., a committee member. The problem is finding a way to pay for it.

Speaking Wednesday before and after a meeting of the Delta Grassroots Caucus, a seven-state coalition of advocates and legislators meeting this week in Little Rock, Crawford said the reforms created by MAP-21 enjoy broad support in the committee. One possible change would be allowing motor carriers to test drivers for drugs using hair samples rather than urine. Hair samples provide evidence of drug use over longer periods of time.

However, the committee can’t pass a new transportation bill until it knows what funding would be available, and that comes out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Members of that committee, led by Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, are considering a number of provisions, including reducing tax rates to encourage corporations to repatriate profits currently overseas. Crawford said that mechanism would lead to uncertain revenues. Another option is increasing royalties on federal land.

“The Ways and Means Committee operates a lot like the Intel Committee. They play it real close to the vest, and they’re not leaking anything,” he said in an interview.

The current highway funding mechanism, the fuel tax, has not been raised since 1993 and is proving inadequate to fund current highway needs. MAP-21 was set to expire May 31 until Congress extended it for two months. It authorizes the Highway Trust Fund, which funds highway projects. The fund will become insolvent in August.

Highway bills typically last at least five years, but MAP-21 originally lasted less than two until it was extended. Crawford said a five- or six-year plan realistically could be passed this time. A long-term bill would help highway constructors better plan for projects.

“We can’t continue to do short-term patches and expect these contractors to not lay people off as they’re waiting for us to come up with a long-term funding model,” he said.

Crawford, also a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, said he supports ending the trade embargo with Cuba as it currently exists, calling it a “vestige of the Cold War.” Increased trade would help both the United States and Cuba. He said Cubans must rely on inferior food because of the embargo - including buying rice from Vietnam that takes 36 days to ship, versus 36 hours from the United States.

He also expressed support for extending trade promotion authority to the president, meaning he or she would be able to negotiate trade agreements subject to an up-or-down vote by Congress, with Congress providing guidelines beforehand. Lacking that authority would make it difficult for the president to negotiate agreements because foreign governments would not know how Congress would amend them, he said.

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7.Cong. Westerman: Rural America Creates Country’s Wealth


By Steve Brawner


Rural areas create much of America’s wealth and could better share in that wealth if they took advantage of their resources and created better environments for job creators, Rep. Bruce Westerman said Wednesday.

Westerman addressed the Delta Grassroots Caucus, a seven-state coalition of advocates and legislators meeting this week in Little Rock. He said his 4th District is 86% forestland and 12% farmland and is the nation’s number one poultry producing district.

Westerman said his 33-county district, which sprawls across southern and western Arkansas, has grown geographically in recent years because people are leaving as jobs aren’t available.

That shouldn’t be the case, Westerman said, because “Wealth comes from the land.”

Westerman, who earned a biological and agricultural engineering degree at the University of Arkansas while playing for the Razorbacks, said he tries to approach problems from an engineering perspective: Define the problem correctly, then make a plan, do the work and present the answer.

Poverty persists in rural America and high unemployment exists in the 4th District because abundant natural resources aren’t being taken advantage of and because the right environment isn’t being created for job creators.

“We’ve got all these resources,” he said. “We’ve got people that understand hard work. We’ve got great transportation systems in the Fourth District. If you think about Pine Bluff, Arkansas, we’ve got the Arkansas River, we’ve got interstate highways, and we’ve got a mainline railroad. From my engineering perspective, if we were looking at a place to locate a facility, Pine Bluff meets all the criteria for logistics. It’s like we have the ingredients there to bake a really great cake. We’ve just got to get the right chef in the kitchen and put things together.”

Westerman said that federal spending must be based on the right priorities - transportation infrastructure being one of the main ones.

Sitting on the House Budget Committee, he said he had listened to hours of hearings and had been “appalled” at how the federal government spends its money. Despite the highest tax revenues ever, the federal government continues to deficit spend. Federal debt interest payments equal $280 billion a year, and are growing, at a time when the Highway Trust Fund has a deficit of $15 billion annually.

“Just think about that. What kind of infrastructure projects could we do if we didn’t have $18 trillion in debt, and we’re making those interest payments?” he said.

To close that $15 billion Highway Trust Fund funding gap, Westerman has introduced the Prioritizing American Roads and Jobs Act. It would bring funding for expanding the Medicaid population - currently paid 100% from federal funds - down to the same level as traditional Medicaid funding, and then use half of what’s produced for highways and the rest for deficit reduction.

Meanwhile, while discretionary programs like the military are being squeezed, mandatory spending for programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid continue to grow at unsustainable rates, he said. He said, at 47, he doesn’t plan his retirement based on Social Security.

“These are good programs that were started with the right intent, but if we don’t fix them, the things that are eating up all of our expenditures are going to default,” he said.

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Delta Grassroots Caucus

“Economic Equality, Women & Children’s Issues, Civil Rights”

May 26-27, 2015 Annual Delta Conference in Little Rock

(Please note: if speakers have to change their schedules at the last minute we will have to make adjustments in the schedule accordingly. These changes are beyond our control and we have to remain flexible due to the highly hectic schedules of President Clinton, the Governor, Members of Congress, and other very busy participants.)

OPENING SESSION-Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda

4 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.-Networking and allowing time for the attendees to arrive in the Rotunda

4:15-Introduction and Stand-Up Comedy Routine by Lee Powell, Chairman and Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus, and Delta Caucus Vice Chairman, Rep. Mark McElroy

4:30 to 4:50 p.m.-Beginning of Speakers on Women and Children’s Issues (additional speakers on these issues will follow in many other parts of the conference)

Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA in the Clinton administration and nationally recognized disaster relief expert, author and educator

Ruthanne Hill, Executive Director, Arkansas Single Parents Scholarship Fund

4:50 to 5 p.m.–Bo Ryall, Arkansas Hospital Association, speaking for Arkansas’ health insurance coverage expansion program

5 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.-Gov. Asa Hutchinson-speaking on the special session for job creation in south Arkansas, Arkansas’ health insurance program and related topics

5:20 to 5:30 p.m.-Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives Jeremy Gillam, speaking on health insurance expansion in Arkansas and the special session on job creation

5:30 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.-US Senator John Boozman

5:50 to 6 p.m.-Annette Dove, executive director, TOPPS nonprofit, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, along with Courteney Grant, 18-year old senior at Watson Chapel High School

6 p.m. to 7 p.m.-Session for the two Presidential candidates with deep ties to Arkansas and the Delta: Former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Secretary Hillary Clinton

Moderators: Lee Powell, Executive Director. Delta Grassroots Caucus, and Rex Nelson, President, Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities

6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.-Former Gov. Mike Beebe, speaking on behalf of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign

6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.-Alice Stewart, Communications Director, Mike Huckabee for President

CLOSING SPEAKERS-7 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

7 P.M.–Maisie Wright, Director, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, Blytheville, Arkansas

7:10 p.m.–Alexandra Rouse, staff attorney, Third Judicial Circuit, graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service, and Programming Director for Women Lead Arkansas

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

8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.-Panel on “Gender and Racial Equality and Justice”

  1. Millie Atkins, Speaker and Moderator, CenturyLink broadband expansion program in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, based in Monroe, Louisiana

  2. Bob Culler, First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri, African American community leader in southeast Missouri, speaking on police profiling and race relations

  3. Mireya Reith, Director, Arkansas United Coalition, working on immigration, voter education and turnout, police profiling of Hispanics, and other issues for Hispanics in Arkansas

  4. Betty Dobson, Executive Director, Upper Town Heritage Foundation, Paducah, Kentucky, commemorating civil rights history in western Kentucky of the Hotel Metropolitan, where civil rights leaders, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Ike and Tina Turner and others stayed in the era of Jim Crow

  5. Janis Kearney, former White House aide in the Clinton administration, author of a book on the famous civil rights leader Daisy Bates, founding publisher of Writing Our World Press in Little Rock, Arkansas

10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.-Congressman Bruce Westerman, Fourth District, Arkansas

10:20 to 10:50 a.m.–Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, former Presidential appointee at the Clinton administration at USDA national headquarters in Washington, DC

10:50 a.m.-Arnell Willis, African American leader from Helena-West Helena, Director, Arkansas Workforce Investment Board

11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.-President William Jefferson Clinton (speaking live over the audio system) brief introduction by Caucus Director Lee Powell

11:30 a.m. to noon-Health Care and Health Insurance Expansion

11:30 a.m.-11:40 a.m.-Marquita Little, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, speaking in support of Arkansas’ program for expanding health insurance

11:40 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.-Shiloh Dietz, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, health care issues for women and children and health insurance expansion in Illinois

11:50 a.m. to noon-Natalie Burke, CEO, Mississippi Common Health Action, Jackson, Mississippi, on the high rate of women dying in childbirth in Mississippi and the issue of health insurance in Mississippi


Noon to 12:10–Lee Powell, Caucus Director, announcements regarding key regional issues in the field of community and economic development

12:10 to 12:25–Congressman Rick Crawford, First District, Arkansas, introduced by Kay Goss, senior adviser to the Delta Grassroots Caucus

12:25 to 12:40–Terri Freeman, President, National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, on the legacy of the civil rights movement in the aftermath of Ferguson, Missouri & Baltimore

12:40–Maida Coleman, African American leader from Missouri, Director of Missouri Office of Community Engagement, Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri’s appointee in charge of dealing with Ferguson, Missouri, civil rights issues and similar issues across the state

1:p.m to 2:15 p.m.-“Big picture” Panel on Best Practices in Regional Community and Economic Development

  1. Karama Neal, speaker and moderator, Southern Bancorp Community Partners, engaged in many beneficial activities across the Delta region

  2. Ben Wihebrink, Heifer International domestic programs in the USA

  3. Carolyn Branton, National Housing Assistance Council (HAC), Regional Director of Southeast Regional Office of HAC

  4. Ben Burkett, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Mississippi

  5. Iris Crosby, Station Manager, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff program for agriculture demonstration and outreach center, based in Marianna, Arkansas

  6. Henry Snorton, Executive Director, Minority Economic Development Initiative, Hopskinsville, Kentucky in the western Kentucky Delta

Closing speaker–Wilson Golden, native of the great state of Mississippi, Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration, Congressional Affairs Director for US Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, one of four managers of the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative, and now senior adviser to the Delta Caucus

Appreciation for Sponsors

Delta Grassroots Caucus Conference

“Economic Equality, Women & Children’s Issues, Civil Rights”

May 26, 2015 Arkansas Capitol and May 27, 2015 Clinton Library Great Hall

Lead Sponsor

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

Major Co-Sponsors

Heifer International

Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

Partners from the City of Greenville and Washington County, Mississippi

Mississippi County AR Economic Opportunity Commission


Foundation for the Mid-South, headquarters in Jackson, MS, Active Across the Region

Judson College, Marion, Alabama

First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri

McGehee Industrial Foundation, McGehee, Arkansas

Kay Goss, Author, Mr. Chairman: The Life and Legacy of Wilbur Mills, and Chairman, University of Arkansas J. William Fulbright College Fundraising Campaign for 2020

The City of Sikeston, Missouri

Rep. Mark McElroy

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

The City of Dumas, Arkansas

That Bookstore in Blytheville, AR, Chris Crawley

Delta Grassroots Partners

Last but not least, we would like to thank literally hundreds of grassroots partners across the Greater Delta Region, the Washington, DC area, and New York for many more modest contributions of registration fees and annual membership dues in amounts of $125, $100, $75, $50 and $25. As a grassroots regional coalition we need to have a diversified financial base with large numbers of modest contributions, and we could not do our work without these very numerous contributions over such a vast region.